Africa And LTE #2: Leapfrogging Fixed Broadband

Diarmuid Mallon | ZDNet | June 14, 2013

Summary: While the West goes about the expensive process of replacing old systems with new ones, Africa is skipping straight to the latest technology.

Africa is catching up with the technology advances of the West, and they’re doing it by leapfrogging over technology that’s become irrelevant, pioneering next-generation solutions. Solar PV lights (like those from Sunny Money) are rendering it unnecessary to build expensive electrical grids. Mobile payments (from M-PESA and others) have replaced old systems of remittance in many areas. Mobile bank accounts (like AccessAccount from Standard Bank in South Africa) are replacing branch-based accounts. LTE networks are making landline telephony obsolete.

Africa is never going to have widespread, fast fixed-line broadband. Angola, Tanzania and Uganda have all launched LTE. Note that fixed broadband penetration in these countries is just 0.12%, 0.007% and 0.25% respectively, because there’s no high capacity backbone infrastructure.