Without a doubt, the Internet has been the best thing to happen in Nigeria and to Nigerians since the discovery of crude oil and jollof rice. The arrival of the internet-enabled Nigerians to connect with the outside world in more accessible ways. It allowed us to share our culture, art, entrepreneurship spirit and Entertainment with people from other countries. But, is Nigeria ready for the metaverse?
Though the arrival of the internet, like everything in the world, has its negative effects. Nigerians have moved beyond the negative aspects and instead use this technology to build a great online community. The internet has been a lucrative tool for promoting entertainment and local businesses. The Nigerian Tech Industry has also witnessed tremendous growth over the years due to the availability of the internet.
Weeks Ago, Facebook founder and President Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in brand name from Facebook to Meta. With the change in the brand name, Zuckerberg also announced the company’s intention to create a new internet called the metaverse. If you are not familiar with the concept of metaverse, you can find detailed explanation of the concept here.
While the metaverse will not be ready for a few years, one would ask if a developing country and economy like Nigeria is ready for the metaverse and all the opportunities that come with it.
I strongly believe Nigeria is far from ready for the metaverse, for the following reasons:
Poor internet services
The metaverse is a social space and virtual world powered by cloud servers that would require stable and strong internet connections to access. Even with 4g, Nigerians still battle with unstable internet service. Most Nigerians have multiple internet service providers all in the bid to have strong internet services.
Most of the world has either pivoted towards 5g or trans-atlantic fibre optic cable systems and fibre broadband internet. Nigerians still depend on 3g wireless and 4g internet service which might not be strong enough to access the metaverse without glitches.
Outdated networking infrastructure
Nigeria’s Internet providers still use Masts that were originally created for 2G and 3G networks. While internet connection has been upgraded to 4G by many internet service providers, the infrastructure available is yet to be upgraded to accommodate the 4G network.
To catch up with the rest of the World, Nigerian telecom companies need to invest in Fibre Optic Cables and build more internet service towers. Upgrading to the 5G network will be impossible if more 5G towers are not installed.
Cost of data
With the current cost of internet data in Nigeria, it would be almost impossible for the average Nigerian internet user to access the metaverse. With data prices going for as much as 1000 Naira (2.5$) for 1.5-gigabyte data. With slow internet, an average user could use this data for three days, but with fast connection, it would lapse in less than two days.
Nigerians would have to pay more for slow data to access the metaverse. Broadband services like Spectranet and Swift offer unlimited monthly 4G data, but are still not immune to snail-paced networks, making opting for the services unadvisable.
In addition to the issues of snail-paced internet services, lack of infrastructure and high cost of data services is the general lack of technical know-how on how the metaverse works. However, Nigeria is not the only Nation affected by this. While it would take years for the metaverse world to come to reality, Facebook announced that parts of it are already available.
Creating a virtual reality world for video games is one thing; optimizing it for worldwide usage is a whole different ball game. I believe that while Nigeria and Africa is far from ready for the metaverse, the rest of the world is also playing catch up with the incoming technology.