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Notes from ITU’s ‘Measuring the Information Society 2011’

September 29, 2011  »  Mobile & StatisticsOne Comment

A couple of weeks ago, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), regarded as the source for Internet statistics, released a report on Internet usage habits in 152 countries around the world. The title: “Measuring the Information Society 2011.” Of interest to many is the ICT Development Index which ranks nations by number of subscriptions, type of subscription, broadband availability, cost of access, and level of education. This ranking only goes so far, however, and the value of comparing African ICT benchmarks with global stats is marginal.

In addition to the tables of global rankings, however, are pages of analysis and notes. Recent data hails mostly from 2010 with 2008 used as a reference. Below are some of the nuggets we found useful for painting a picture of how African nations are progressing in terms of Internet adoption:

    • The ITU revised the definition of wireless-broadband subscriptions in 2010 and group it into three indicators: satellite broadband, terrestrial fixed wireless-broadband, and terrestrial mobile wireless. Terrestrial mobile wireless subscriptions include (a) standard mobile subscriptions with use of data communications at broadband speeds (i.e. mobile-cellular subscriptions with advertised data speeds of 256 kbit/s or greater and which have been used to set up an Internet data connection) and (b) dedicated mobile data subscriptions at broadband speeds. (9)
    • Approximately 63% of the ICT Development Index is based on 6 factors: International Internet bandwidth per Internet user, Percentage of households with a computer, percentage of households with Internet access, Percentage of individuals using the Internet, fixed-broadband Internet subscriptions per inhabitant, and active mobile-broadband subscriptions per inhabitant. (10)
    • Kenya has seen a 28% change in IDI value since 2008, making it one of the fastest growing Internet markets. The reason: large cellular subscription growth and an increase in Internet bandwidth capacity (especially from 2009-2010). As of December 2010, Kenya had 10.2 million Internet users, or 26% of the population. (17)
    • Morocco has witnessed nearly a 300% increase in international bandwidth since 2008. Internet penetration rates are up nearly 50% in thanks to the adoption of mobile broadband, which has gone from 2.3% to 10% penetration over the past two years. Fixed broadband growth is flat, however, in part due to Maroc Telecom’s monopoly. (18)
    • Comoros saw bandwidth increase 1000% after connecting to a submarine cable in 2010. Madagascar now has over 10x the International capacity it did in 2008. (30)
    • Mobile broadband subscriptions have doubled globally between 2008-2010. At least 150 nations have 3G mobile broadband networks as of 2010. Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Togo, and Zimbabwe did not have 3G as of 2010. (35,42)
    • The number of fixed broadband subscriptions decreased in Kenya from 2009 to 2010. Kenya’s Internet penetration rate, as reported by CCK, was 9% in 2008. (37)
    • All African nations apart from Angola, Gabon, Mauritius, Nigeria, Seychelles, and South Africa have less than 5% of households connected to the Internet. Only Cape Verde, Mauritius, Seychelles, and South Africa have a broadband penetration rate greater than 1%. (41)
    • Djibouti and Mauritania saw little progress in terms of international connectivity. Djibouti is one of the few nations with under 20% mobile penetration. (43)
    • Broadband Internet costs 112% of gross national income in developing countries as opposed to 1.5% in developed countries. The monthly cost for Internet in Guinea, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia is >10x the average monthly income. (71)
    • Broadband prices dropped by 96% in Burkina Faso, 51% in Malawi, 61% in Ethiopia, 92% in Nigeria, 47% in Swaziland, 90% in Uganda, 81% in Mozambique, 77% in Kenya, but only 8% in Guinea. The African (non-Arab state) average is 55%. (74,76)
    • Kenya’s international bandwidth has grown from 829 Mbit/s in 2008 to 202,000 Mbit/s in 2010. (76)
    • Broadband definition now is 4 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload. (86)
    • 36% of Ghana’s population is covered by 3G. (87)
    • Terrestrial backbone networks’ length grew from 466,000km to 646,000km from July 2009 to Q1 2011. 4.4% of the population lived within 25km of a submarine cable landing point. 31% lived within the same distance of a backbone access point. Senegal has a high percentage, and Gabon soon will too. (100)
    • 7% of African nations collect household data on Internet usage habits. (108)
    • Internet usage is strongly correlated with income. In Botswana (2008), 2% of people in the bottom 75% of income levels accessed the Internet. 19% of people in the upper 25% income bracket accessed the Internet. (113)
    • In Namibia, 81% of Internet users use a social network. 17% of mobile owners access social networks via mobile application. 23% of mobile owners used their phones to access the Internet. However, only 13% of the population actually uses the Internet. Most using it for the first time still do so on a computer or laptop. (125)
    • No broadband (fixed or mobile) as of 2010 in: Chad, Comoros, DRC, Guinea, Niger. 1-in-1000 broadband users in Burkina Faso, Swaziland, Togo, Zambia. (154-5)

      Also, be sure to read TechZim’s summary of the ITU report’s findings on Zimbabwe. Ghana Business Review wrote an insightful article on how Ghana’s global ICT ranking has changed (actually dropped) since 2008.

      Note: Unfortunately, much of the African household survey data is from 2007/2008 when Research ICT Africa conducted extensive research. So, although most of the trends are probably still true, the exact numbers used in the later sections of the report have undoubtedly changed greatly.