Bridging digital divide to enhance consumers’ experience in 2024
By Seen Johnson
Since the start of year 2024, the business landscape has been bustling and bubbling with promising trends expected to shape the economic space and rejuvenate industries believed to have struggled to survive the 2023 global economic headwinds.
Recently, the International monetary Fund, IMF forecast global growth of 3.1% in the New Year, which denotes about 20 percent increase over its October forecast.
From the synopsis of economic diagnosis and synthesis of trends analysis by experts across the globe, year 2024 has been projected to be loaded with promises of a new dawn in the corporate world, signaling a huge relief from the hyper-inflation that dealt a terrible blow to business survivals in the outgone year.
While a strategic business approach has been identified as an indispensable factor for any brand willing to cut out of the bigger pie that lies ahead, embracing digital revolution that has reshaped the business landscape has continued to drive the conversation across industries.
With the unprecedented surge in digital marketing that has created a huge impact on consumer behavior, the press and push for bridging digital divide while promoting digital inclusion has become regular discourse among leaders of thought in the integrated marketing communications sector.
According to experts, digital inclusion plays a crucial role in today’s competitive business landscape. By bridging the digital divide and ensuring equal access to digital technologies and skills, businesses can expand their customer base, enhance customer experience, and improve productivity.
For many years, several Nigerian businesses have groaned under the heavyweight of digital divide which is said to have been largely due to illiteracy, poor power supply, income, urban drift, and a variety of other social and political factors.
In January 2023, a Statista study revealed that only about 40 percent of Nigeria’s population has access to the internet compared to the United Kingdom, where 93 percent of the population has internet access. The figure is, however, predicted to increase by 2 percent every year till 2030.
The projection however does not align with expectations of business leaders who believe one of the prominent ways to build brands, create awareness and enhance consumer awareness for profitability and economic growth is by bridging digital divide.
Aside the gradual rate of internet penetration, the hike in data prices by two of the leading telecom giants, MTN and Airtel late last year was said to have further created a huge digital divide that prevented several low income earners from accessing the global network
The two outfits announced a hike in data prices in Nigeria, citing declined earnings as reason for their decision.
It was reported that MTN’s profit after tax fell 78.6% to N18.7 billion between July and September from the same period last year, while Airtel recorded $13 million loss during the period.
Speaking while featuring on Arise TV programme, the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola identified the high cost of mobile phone in Nigeria as a major reason for digital divide and suggested that local assembly of the product could help reduce its production cost, eliminate custom duties and make it more affordable to the people.
“We are 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,” he said.
Also addressing the issue of financing as a solution, the MTN Nigeria Boss stressed the importance of aggregate credit scoring history for citizens to finance their mobile devices.
“There are quite several 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 to predict behavioral patterns and credit worthiness.
“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,” he said.