Freedom House just released the Freedom On The Net 2011 Report. The report shows that Nigeria has internet penetration of 28%. There was no evidence of major censorship like blocking Web 2.0 applications. Also, evidence on arresting bloggers or users was nil. However, press freedom in the nation is not completely free.
The U.S. based institution report shows that while we are free on the web, we may not be in print. Perhaps, the technology and capacity to police the web is still alluding our leaders. Nigeria is free on the web, but not on print media. This report covered the period 2009 to 2011 when the online penetration of Nigeria has soared exponentially with the mobile internet access now available to the greater number of users.
This is the key summary
INTERNET PENETRATION: 28 percent
WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS BLOCKED: No
SUBSTANTIAL POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: No
BLOGGERS/ONLINE USERS ARRESTED: No
PRESS FREEDOM STATUS: Partly Free
This report attempts to provide some histories on the evolution of Internet in the nation.
The internet was first introduced in the early 1990s, and usage grew more popular following an internet workshop organized by the Yaba College of Technology in 1995. Press freedom and the space for free expression have since increased. Nevertheless, the legal and political environment for traditional media remains harsh, and a number of journalists have been killed in recent years. Online media have been comparatively free from such restrictions to date, though two bloggers were detained for questioning in late 2008. The Nigerian authorities do not carry out any filtering of content, and while access to information technology is still limited for many Nigerians, the number of internet users nearly quadrupled between 2008 and 2010. Several recent legislative initiatives have raised concerns that the relative freedom and privacy enjoyed by online journalists and writers may come under threat in the near future.
Internet access expanded as cybercafes sprang up in major cities across Nigeria in 1999, though it was still expensive and connections were very slow. The introduction of internet access via mobile-phone service in 2004 spurred further increases in internet use.
The number of mobile-phone subscribers has increased dramatically over the past decade, from almost no users in 2000 to over 83 million in 2010.10 Mobile internet penetration has also increased, reportedly reaching 7.3 million users by 2008.11 While users with any smart phone can access the internet on their mobile devices, specific handsets such as Nokia’s C3 and Research in Motion’s Blackberry provide bundled data services to mobile subscribers. The number of BlackBerry users appears to be growing, particularly among young Nigerians, though the cost of the service, whose efficiency is limited, remains $20 per month. According to credible sources in the industry, there were approximately 86,500 BlackBerry subscribers with the service providers MTN, Zain, and Etisalat as of July 2010.12
The full report is available here.