Broadband Spreading Across Africa

Santosh Anchan | IDN-InDepthNews | February 26, 2012

Africa has been the world's fastest growing region over the last decade in terms of mobile penetration. While fixed line penetration has stagnated at 4% in the continent, mobile has grown at an astonishing rate to 45% with North Africa leading at 73%. However broadband is lagging behind considerably when compared to other continents.

The reason: lack of an adequate infrastructure and high costs of service provisioning. Currently the average broadband penetration in Africa is only 1.5% with South Africa leading at approximately about 3%. Owing to coverage restrictions and lack of bandwidth, large parts of the region continue to witness connectivity delivered via satellites or mobile technology. Lack of bandwidth availability and limited connectivity with rest of the world has arrested the development of Africa and has constrained the continent from achieving its full potential.

However all this is changing and there are high improvements expected in this area over the next three to four years. This is mainly because we can now see myriad of submarine cables that form a thick ring around Africa. Thanks to Africa's leading telecommunications service providers, World Bank funding as well as numerous government organizations and their international partners, who have invested in various undersea fibre optic projects to bring much-needed broadband capacity to the continent and enhanced connectivity with rest of the world...