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Internet Access Cuts Extreme Poverty by 7% in Nigeria and Tanzania

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The World Bank estimates that there has been a seven percent reduction in extreme poverty in Nigeria and Tanzania due to improved access to internet coverage over the past three years.

In its new brief titled, “Digital transformation drives development in Africa’, the World Bank noted that the exposure has also led to an increase of eight percent in labour force participation and wage employment.

“In 2023, a World Bank flagship report found that in Nigeria and Tanzania, extreme poverty declined by about seven percent after three or more years of exposure to internet coverage, while labour force participation and wage employment increased by up to eight per cent,” the World Bank revealed.

Andrew Dabalen, World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, said, “The minimal usage of mobile internet is a lost opportunity for inclusive growth in Africa. Closing the uptake gap would increase the continent’s potential to create jobs for its growing population and boost economic recovery in a highly digitalised world.”

Additionally, the brief highlights that over the past five years (2016-2021), sub-Saharan Africa experienced an extraordinary 115 per cent increase in internet users, a change that has been instrumental in spurring economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating job opportunities.

The brief showed that, “The region’s digital infrastructure coverage, access, and quality still lag behind other regions. At the end of 2021, while 84 percent of people in SSA lived in areas where 3G service was available, and 63 percent had access to 4G mobile coverage, only 22 percent were using mobile internet services.

“The gap between coverage and usage is similarly large for broadband, with 61 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa living within the broadband range but not using it.”

Meanwhile, the World Poverty Clock estimates that at least 71 million Nigerians are extremely poor.

With the seven percent decline in the extreme poverty index, there are now approximately 66 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty.

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Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Stalls at 42.53% Amid Connectivity Challenges

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Nigeria’s broadband penetration has stalled at 42.53% as of January, according to the latest report.

Subscriptions currently stand at 92.19 million, indicating a significant gap in connectivity, particularly in rural areas.

The Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 aims to increase broadband penetration to 70% by 2025, with the ultimate goal of achieving 96% mobile broadband coverage by 2030.

However, this ambitious target requires substantial investment—approximately $461 million, according to a recent report by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).

While the country’s major telecommunications companies, such as MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa, have invested heavily in expanding their network infrastructure, much of this development has been concentrated in urban areas. Rural and underserved regions face a significant coverage gap, exacerbating the digital divide.

Despite these challenges, Nigeria has made progress in improving its broadband infrastructure. Since 2012, the mobile broadband coverage gap across Africa has decreased from 56% to 13% in 2022, due to significant investments in network capacity and new technologies.

Nonetheless, millions of Nigerians, particularly those in rural regions, remain without access to essential telecom services.

To address this issue, Nigeria’s government established the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) in 2006, aimed at bridging the connectivity gap and expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas.

The fund provides resources for deploying telecommunications infrastructure in economically unviable regions.

The success of these initiatives, along with increased investments in broadband infrastructure and policies to incentivize internet expansion in remote areas, will be crucial in closing the connectivity gap and improving digital access for all Nigerians.

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iPhone Shipments Drop Amid Resurgence of Android Rivals

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Apple Inc. reported a significant drop in iPhone shipments during the March quarter, reflecting a downturn in sales across China amid the resurgence of competition from Android-powered rivals.

According to market tracker IDC, the tech giant shipped 50.1 million iPhones in the first three months of the year, a 9.6% year-on-year decline that fell short of the average analyst estimate of 51.7 million.

The steep decrease in iPhone sales marks Apple’s most significant quarterly dip since 2022, when Covid-19 lockdowns disrupted supply chains.

This time, the Cupertino-based company faces challenges from resurgent competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp.

These firms have rebounded strongly in recent quarters, and their innovative product lines have begun to reclaim market share from Apple in China.

Samsung Electronics Co. regained its position as the top smartphone supplier globally, while Apple ranked second. Xiaomi closed the gap on Apple, shipping 40.8 million units, an impressive 33.8% increase year-on-year.

Transsion Holdings, another key player in the budget smartphone segment, nearly doubled its shipments, showcasing the competitive environment Apple faces.

Nabila Popal, research director at IDC, highlighted the broader shift in the smartphone market, which has recovered from the supply chain disruptions and challenges of recent years.

“While Apple has demonstrated resilience and growth in recent years, maintaining its pace and share in the market may prove challenging as Android manufacturers make strides,” Popal commented.

Apple has a strong brand and loyal customer base, yet its market position may be tested further by the aggressive pricing and innovative products offered by Chinese rivals.

The company’s efforts to sustain its premium pricing strategy may also be challenged as more customers consider switching to Android alternatives.

As the tech industry looks ahead to the rest of the year, Apple’s upcoming earnings report and strategic moves to address this competitive pressure will be closely watched by investors and industry observers alike.

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Meta Platforms Inc.’s Astonishing Rally Adds $1 Trillion in Value

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Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, has witnessed an extraordinary rally that has propelled its market value by $1 trillion.

The tech giant’s record-breaking surge, fueled by strategic investments in artificial intelligence (AI), underscores its resilience and adaptability in navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Since its darkest days in 2022, Meta’s shares have undergone a remarkable transformation, soaring to new heights and shattering records along the way.

Despite its monumental growth, some perspectives suggest that Meta is still trading at a discount with its shares valued at 24 times estimated earnings early Wednesday, closely aligned with its 10-year average and just below the Nasdaq 100’s multiple of 25 times.

Among its peers in the Magnificent Seven group of big tech companies, only Alphabet Inc. boasts a lower multiple, standing at approximately 21 times.

AI emerges as the primary catalyst behind Meta’s astonishing rally, driving gains and serving as a harbinger of future growth prospects.

Meta’s substantial investments in AI have revolutionized ad targeting and content recommendation algorithms, enhancing user engagement and advertiser relevance.

The strategic bet on AI has paid off handsomely, with profits tripling in Meta’s most recent quarterly report, accompanied by a surge in revenue growth. Such robust earnings prompted Meta to announce a $50 billion buyback program and implement a dividend, further solidifying investor confidence in the company’s trajectory.

Conrad van Tienhoven, a portfolio manager at Riverpark Capital, lauds Meta’s strategic focus on AI, stating, “Outside of chip or hardware companies like Nvidia or Dell, no company has benefited more from AI than Meta, just in terms of the impact on growth.”

Meta’s unparalleled surge, exceeding 450% from its nadir almost 18 months ago, positions it as a standout performer among its peers. This year alone, Meta’s shares have surged by approximately 46%, trailing only chipmaker Nvidia Corp. within the Magnificent Seven cohort.

The recent selloff that preceded Meta’s current rebound underscored investor concerns over its spending on the metaverse initiative. However, Meta’s proactive measures, including a concerted focus on cost efficiency and innovation, have restored market confidence.

Rick Bensignor, chief executive officer of Bensignor Investment Strategies, affirms Meta’s trajectory, stating, “Meta has figured out how to get rid of unnecessary spending, which has been a real balance sheet plus, and it continues to innovate.”

As Meta prepares to unveil its first-quarter earnings results on April 24, investors eagerly anticipate updates on key metrics such as ad revenue growth and the efficacy of AI solutions.

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