Karl Toriola, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria highlighted a significant challenge hindering digital inclusion in the country – the high cost of mobile phones. He said this in an exclusive interview with Arise TV, on 27th January 2024.
The “Tech into the Future” interview hosted by Tomiwa Aladekomo and Ngozi Madueke-Dozie, discussed digital inclusion in Nigeria and the role of the telecom ecosystem in bridging the digital divide.
Since the rollout of 5G technology in 2022, Toriola confirmed the coverage has quadrupled in the country. “5G has been instrumental towards servicing digitization; a lot of people are shifting their consumption from traditional voice and circuit switch services to data services and probably the biggest barrier to that is actually the cost of handsets,” he added.
Toriola further stated that while the global demand has led to a reduction in smartphone costs, Nigeria alone might not generate enough demand to bring down prices as quickly. He suggested that local assembling could help reduce production costs and eliminate custom duties, making smartphones more affordable.
Discussing financing solutions, he stressed the importance of aggregate credit scoring history for citizens to finance their mobile devices. “There’s quite a number of companies in Africa that are working on that in partnership with us, and while it may take a bit of time for that momentum to be built, our mobile money PSB – MoMo will enable us predict behavioural patterns and credit worthiness,” he added.
By working on these technologies, MTN aims to make smartphones accessible to a broader population, allowing people to pay for their devices responsibly over an extended period.
Recognizing the challenges, Toriola emphasised the need for collaboration with regulators. “MTN is actively working with the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, and regulatory authorities to address the issue of device affordability and promote digital inclusion in Nigeria.”