Broadband, mobiles to connect Africa

The penetration of mobile phones in many African countries is higher than the world average. Data on the number of mobile subscriptions per 100 people show that penetration rates in Algeria, South Africa, Gabon, Tunisia, Mauritius, Botswana, Morocco and Mauritania are all above the world average of 60%.

So while a large percentage of the African population is still yet to make their first phone call, many others are connected to the world through their cell phones.

These increasing connectivity levels are key to the development of the continent say industry experts. Access to wireless broadband internet via mobile devices gives students the ability to access knowledge and training, gives producers access to the global market and gives companies access to a vital business tool.

But while there are a number of fibre optic cable projects underway to deliver cable to Africa, fixed line connectivity is not going to be able to reach the masses in rural areas across the continent.

At present, fixed line operators are able to provide inter-city service and high corporate services in countries such as Uganda and Kenya, but fibre optic cables will always remain limited with fluctuating reliability.

Mobile ISPs

This reality opens the door for mobile internet service providers on the continent. Many GSM operators such as Orange and MTN have joined the data market, providing 3G services to the masses through dongles, while WiMAX operators service the residential and corporate market.

Some African governments are acknowledging the importance of increasing broadband access in the undeveloped world and the opportunities that wireless broadband internet access poses in Africa. The Ministry of Telecommunication in Burkina Faso has set up a wireless local loop in the seven major cities in the country. The service is working across over 500 schools, government offices and public offices generating huge government savings. Mali is now implementing a similar project.

Post published in: Tech

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