Africa’s Internet 2012 user base way below African Union target

Posted on December 16, 2012 10:20 pm

There were 167,335,676million Internet subscribers in Africa at the end of June 2012 way below the target that was set few years ago by the African Union. A researcher whom I spoke to informed that multiple factors have prevented the uptake of Internet. The African Union had set the target of achieving 300 million Internet users for the years ending 2012. An Internet connection with a speed of 256 kbps and higher is categorized as broadband as per most African countries policies but Internationally 3mbps is what is considered as broadband.Situation is not that bad because 3G network development accross many countries has led to Internet usage to the researcher who is based in Pretoria, South Africa, there are several issues hindering the growth of Internet and broadband in Africa like the lack of interest in private sector in most countries and apart from Kenya and South Africa broadband expansion in rural areas is not remunerative.

Also, difficulties experienced by most African countries in funding laying optical fibre cable network beyond urban settings due to the issues related with prohibitive costs involved in laying the cable in long distant towns.African countries also have a problem with high back haul cost as has been the case with East African countries, high cost of customer premises equipment, illiteracy, lack of local content and inadequate power supply which is prominent in the entire continent. However, not all is gloom. In Kenya, the government’s plans to provide Internet facility at cheaper rates through the yet to be established digital villages across the rural areas and it is fully owned by central government, with equity participation from various departments. Africa has also become a continent of mobile Internet users, with almost more mobile broadband connections in the continent although its below authorities expectations. High Speed mobile broadband was also becoming entrenched in African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Given the small increase in fixed usage across the continent, the total volume of data downloaded indicate a growing appetite for bandwidth applications such as Facebook, Twitter and video.

Contador Harrison