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What are the strategic considerations for those delivering internet services to Africa (and how might these change going forward)?

August 24, 2014  »  BroadbandNo Comment

The latest issue of WIOCC‘s thought-leadership e-bulletin Connected asks a panel of industry figures to give their expert responses to a current question on African broadband.



August 2014’s question is: What are the strategic considerations for those delivering internet services to Africa, and how might these change going forward?

Some of the areas considered by the panelists are the challenges bringing the internet closer to African customers, with some international ISPs offering local IP Transit services in Africa and others not. Could this be because of the expansion of internet exchanges in Africa and the growth of carrier-grade data centre facilities? Also, how important are the demands for improved pan-African, intra-company communications via VPN services? And what about the debate around local versus international content?

Snippets of the responses are below:

International submarine and terrestrial network connectivity in Africa has expanded greatly in the past few years, but the industry still faces challenges providing high- quality affordable IP transit in African countries.” – Paul Brodsky, Senior Analyst, TeleGeography

The rate of internet adoption in emerging countries is continuously increasing, as barriers to entry are getting lower and the benefits in terms of efficiency increasingly justify investment in internet infrastructure, both for end user access (in particular wireless broadband technology) and in the backbone, as fiber optic networks, over submarine cables or terrestrial links replace bandwidth-constrained satellite links.” – Francois Lemaigre, VP European Sales, Cogent Communications

With the rapidly changing landscape in social, mobile and cloud; strong, robust and resilient access to internet is a critical part of a future landscape. It always starts in the same way and follows a distinct path. Firstly building sufficient access to the international markets to gain connectivity, then creating a environment to house local content, then the development of peering and finally rolling out neutral platforms to optimise the experience and reduce cost. I see that Africa is still in the first stage of development with several concurrent initiatives in place to connect bandwidth to the international markets, alongside the adoption of local content storage and peering yet to surface on the continent itself.” – Clint Collins, Regional Director, Carrier Business MEA, Epsilon

Those seeking to profit from delivering internet services in Africa must first grasp the distinctive characteristics of the African market. The most obvious of these is the poor penetration of internet services relative to most of the rest of the world. There are nearly a billion Africans between Cairo and Cape Town, and yet between them all they account for only 7% of the world’s internet users, according to Internet World Stats.” – Guy Mathews, Writing, Capacity and European Communications

There certainly have been phenomenal advances in technology and access is certainly improving across the continent. However, and there is a big caveat to this, the advancement for the most part is still firmly focused on urban Africa. For the most part Africa is still looking for an affordable and cost-effective rural solution that will give mass coverage and access to those that are most isolated.” – Bradley Shaw, IT/Telecoms Consultant

Ryan Sher, COO of WIOCC, calls out the challenge for ISPs to ensure they have sufficient bandwidth capacity and flexibility within their own networks to meet customers’ burgeoning growth in demand for high-capacity international connectivity. Caching international content is becoming a trend, and accordingly, an emphasis on creating data centres is imperative. Finally, Mr. Sher writes that the amount of operational fibre in Africa rose by 24% in the twelve months ending March 2014. There are now at least 440,000km of such fibre with nearly 100,000km under construction, another 100,000km planned, and 50,000km proposed.

View the entire publication: Connected August 2014

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