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COVID-19 Lockdown: How Nigerians Spend More On Internet Services



By Tobi Adebayo

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease has most countries in the world shutting down activities and their borders to contain the spread of the virus.

With an estimated 900,000 infected patients and 45,719 dead people, the ravaging virus might keep activities crippled for more months, except the pandemic is contained early enough.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday ordered the total lockdown of Lagos state, Ogun state and the Federal Capital Territory as part of efforts to curtail spread of the disease.

Residents are expected to stay indoors, with an exception of those who provide essential services.

With heavy military presence and dire consequences for any resident found flouting the order, people have found solace in the internet to provide them entertainment and distraction from happenings around the world.

Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are pushing out content for their subscribers to enjoy during the lockdown. All these apps are impossible to access without subscription and internet access.

People are also connecting on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, HouseParty and Triller. All of these applications consume megabytes of data depending on each time spent on them.

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Speaking with, a project coordinator, Hassan Adeyoye said he had spent thousands of naira on internet data bundles just to stay online and connected to his family and friends.

“I don’t think many people are aware that WhatsApp video calls consume a lot of data. I have a lot of people I need to check up on constantly via video calls. I’m spending a lot on data.

“The best thing these telcos can do for us during this period is to cut cost of data bundles for their subscribers. They know people will use the internet more than usual during the lockdown. I have friends who have started lamenting about money being spent on data bundles,” he said.

A student of the University of Ilorin, Oluwajedalo Akindele said streaming on Netflix may lead to bankruptcy for her.

“These cable channels offer limited entertainment programme unlike Netflix where you have varieties to choose from. But the main problem is that it consumes a lot of data. Streaming a movie can consume up to 2GB of data. I can’t download because it is someone’s account I am using.

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“I’m getting fed up of having to recharge my phone to buy data bundles but how else does someone stay sane with all these happening around us. One needs a distraction from all that coronavirus news. It is depressing,” she lamented.

Oluwajedalo also said the increase in data usage is expected because people are doing a lot on the internet to cure boredom.

“Instagram and Snapchat are enough to run someone aground. Those two apps consume a lot of data but they are most fun. You get to see what others are up to.

“MTN only gave people free SMS. Who still sends SMS these days when there’s WhatsApp? Let them slash data prices. I am sure they are seriously cashing out from this lockdown. I subscribe at least N5000 weekly. My father has said he will subtract it from my allowance when I resume school. It’s better than dying from boredom,” she said.

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