To think 10 years ago it was a feat to have all 54 countries online…
By the end of the year 2000, every African nation could boast an active Internet connection. However, this statistic sounds more meaningful that it actually was. Most connections were unstable, slow, and limited to capital cities and the elite classes. Ten years later, Africa is much more connected, but the continent still lacks the broadband capabilities that much of the world enjoys. If the past decade was a a period of merely getting connected, the next decade should be the decade of African broadband, be it mobile or fixed. Major gains have even been seen in the past few months. In the meantime, Africa can hope to raise its overall ICT standards and not settle for minimal connectivity. Local content will follow.
WhiteAfrican hints at what we hope to see in the next decade, and that is broadband, both mobile and fixed-line:
To put it in real numbers. By the end of 2008 there were only 635,000 fixed-line broadband subscribers in all of Africa, representing 0.1% of the population, whereas the world average is 6%. Mobile broadband sees 7 million subscribers with a penetration representing 0.9% of the population, again 6% being the global average.
- 3 million Internet users (1 million subscribers x 3 users/computer)
- 1 million Internet users outside South Africa
- 1 in every 250 people uses the Internet
- Most users are male, college-educated, or nationals
- Average cost of dialup: $50/month for 5 hours
- 24 countries have >512kbps international links, 15 have >1Mbps international links
- Total outgoing International bandwidth (exluding South Africa): 60Mbps
- Average International bandwidth per user: 0.17Kbps (= 170bps!)
- Only backbones are Mauritius/Madagascar and South Africa/Lesotho/Swaziland
- In 1999, only 20 countries had universities with full connectivity
- AfriNIC does not yet exist
- Essentially no mobile phone usage
- South Africa still leads the country in terms of overall connectivity technology, speed, and options
- Approximately 1 in 10 Africans uses the Internet
- There are nearly 250 million mobile subscribers
- Mobile penetration rate is over 30%
- Multiple cables connect Africa to the rest of the world at capacities from 360 gigabits to 1300 gigabits – a vast improvement from 10 years ago
- Regular online news stories generally come from only 18 African nations. The rest are underrepresented, hinting at a lack of ICT development
Perhaps the years from 2020-2029 will be the decade where even fewer Internet connections are shared, but that is years away.