Recently, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the communications arm of the United Nations (UN), concluded its World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) in Kigali, Rwanda. At the conference, more than $18.5 billion was pledged to support global internet access, widely recognized as a key aspect of sustainable development.

Life is moving at a frenetic pace these days and every minute different events are happening in the world. To keep up with the speed at which things are changing, it is necessary to have information that is easily and easily accessible.

In these days of globalization, when the world is interconnected and a lot of information is usually only a click away thanks to the Internet, it is not rocket science to conclude that access to the Internet is essential for many many Nigerians partaking in affairs within their own country as well as to keep tabs on what is happening in other countries in a world where what affects one strongly affects others as seen in the heinous invasion of the Ukraine by Russia.

Do enough Nigerians have adequate internet access? What is the service provided by the telecommunications companies in the country? How affordable is data for Nigerians?

Around the world, about 2.9 billion people out of the seven billion inhabitants of the planet do not have access to the Internet. This has invariably reduced the quality of their lives, depriving them of essential opportunities to change their lives.

Data shows that in Nigeria, despite there being around 148 million internet users, some 25 million Nigerians still lack access to basic phone services.

Experts have long held the view that improving Internet access in developing countries can help achieve sustainable economies, as the Internet offers a lot of potential and opportunities for sustainable development.

In the summer of 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a non-binding resolution condemning the intentional shutdown of internet access by governments. The resolution reaffirmed that “the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online.”

The right to Internet access, also known as the right to broadband or freedom of connection, is the idea that everyone must be able to access the Internet in order to exercise and enjoy their rights to freedom of expression and opinion and other basic human rights. , that states have a responsibility to ensure that access to the Internet is widely available and that states cannot unreasonably restrict an individual’s access to the Internet.

Since the right to internet access is intertwined with the right to freedom of expression, which also encompasses freedom of speech, what is the implication of being without internet access for millions of Nigerians who do not currently benefit from it? That is, they are drift cut. They are denied access to information, which goes a long way to encouraging meaningful participation in the affairs of the country.

Without access to the internet at all, or where that access is severely affected by poor connectivity or the exorbitant cost of data, many Nigerians are denied their right to information. And since knowledge is power, they are rendered powerless.

If providing Nigerians with adequate and affordable internet access is given the priority it deserves, many Nigerians will be sustainably empowered.

Kene Obiezu,

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