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The World Bank this week released their report on the
infrastructure and policy needs to have internet coverage for all. The report
quoted a massive USD 100 Bn investment in the next ten years if Africa is to be
at par with developed regions. It makes it to our #ChartOfTheWeek.
For the digital economy,
high-speed broadband connectivity to access the internet is a critical
foundation. Fixed broadband, that is, dedicated, physical links of high-speed
internet, connected to homes, offices, and governments, has had very limited reach
Although fixed broadband
penetration has continuously increased in recent years in urban areas largely
because of a sharp drop in subscription charges, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa,
Africa still has the lowest penetration of fixed broadband worldwide.
Subscription charges in Africa
are still higher than that in middle-income countries. Monthly subscriptions in
Sub-Saharan Africa are more than twice as costly as those in North Africa.
Today, mobile broadband, that is, the use of high-speed internet via mobile or smart device is the principal way by which people across Africa access the internet. Nevertheless, despite the major advances in mobile connectivity and internet access, Africa’s mobile broadband penetration rate (about 25 per cent) is still the lowest worldwide.
While coverage and quality
of mobile networks used for the internet varies extensively amongst countries, substantial
gaps also remain between urban and rural access within countries. In terms of
affordability, the African region has the highest price relative to income for
mobile broadband services.
Nearly 1.1 billion new unique users must be connected to achieve universal, affordable, and good quality broadband internet access by 2030, and an estimated additional USD 100 Bn would be needed to reach this goal over the next decade. This is unquestionably a significant infrastructure undertaking, requiring the deployment of nearly 250,000 new 4G base stations and at least 250,000 kilometres of fibre across the region.
It also requires rolling
out satellites, Wi-Fi based solutions, and other innovations to reach an
estimated population of nearly 100 million that live in remote rural areas that
are currently out of reach of traditional cellular mobile networks.
investment is building the user skills and local content foundations to ensure
that the deployed infrastructure is used adequately, in a manner that would
support its longterm viability.
Investment in developing and implementing adequate policy and regulatory frameworks will also be required to create market conditions that foster technology deployment, the development of a broader technology ecosystem, and overall broadband service affordability.
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