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African highlights from ‘State of Broadband 2012’ report

September 26, 2012  »  Statistics & VideoNo Comment

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development has released its first-ever country-by-country snapshot of the state of broadband deployment worldwide.

The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All evaluates the roll-out of broadband around the world and tracks progress towards achieving four advocacy targets set by the Commission in 2011 for boosting broadband affordability and uptake. It also provides country rankings for 177 economies on economic impact, penetration, and national broadband policy.

Advocacy Targets:

  1. All countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy by 2015
  2. Entry-level broadband services should be made affordable in developing countries (cost less than 5% of average monthly income) by 2015.
  3. By 2015, 40% of households in developing countries should have Internet access. Currently: 20% with 23.3% growth between 2010 and 2011.
  4. By 2015, Internet user penetration should reach 60% worldwide, 50% in developing countries, and 15% in least developed countries. 207 out of 252 million new Internet users last year came from developing countries. In addition, Internet penetration in developing countries has grown from 2.1% in 2000 to 24.4% at the start of 2012. Least developed countries: 3.6% penetration in 2010 to 6% in just two years.

African Findings:

  • Global fixed broadband subscriptions, 2011: 1 million (0.2% of world total)
  • Global mobile broadband subscriptions, 2011: 31 million (2.7% of world total)
  • ICTs directly contribute 7% to Africa’s GDP – well above the global average. Basically, the value of a mobile phone is higher than Africa (partly due to the importance of mobile money services). {World Bank and AfDB}
  • In 2015, wireless broadband could contribute nearly 2% to GDP in South Africa and over 1% in Nigeria. {GSMA and Analysys Mason}
  • 19 African nations have less than 0.1 active mobile broadband subscription per 100 inhabitants. 34 have less than 2 per 100. Ghana leads with 23 per 100, ranked 40th in the world. (as of 2011)

There is predicted to be a 15-fold increase in web traffic by 2017. In order to handle the surge in demand, countries should:

  • explore spectrum management
  • use universal service funds to develop broadband for all
  • update and review ICT regulations
  • reduce taxes on telecom equipment and services
  • stimulate local content creation
  • enhance demand through e-governance initiatives
  • monitor development statistics
  • promote ICT skills training

Additionally, the report pointed out how women represent nearly 2/3 of the untapped mobile market. Forward-thinking operators would be wise to encourage participation within this influential group over the next five years.

ITU analysts believe that mobile broadband could prove the platform for achieving the boost needed to get progress back on track. The signs are promising. At end 2011, there were already almost twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband connections. Some 119 countries now have a national broadband plan or policy in place. Expect an even greater emphasis on ICT and mobile regulation in African nations as both public and private sectors cope with skyrocketing Internet usage.