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telecommunications AND INTERNET REVOLUTION IN AFRICA

Abstract/ Executive Summary:

In common with the rest of the world, Africa has experienced a huge increase in internet use and mobile telecommunications in recent years. On average, 35% of the population as a whole is connected to the internet, against a world average of 54.4%. With a continent comprising of 54 countries, there is, inevitably, significant variation. 84% of Kenya’s population of 51 million people are internet users, while at the other extreme only 1.4% of Eritrea’s 5.1 million people are connected. Many countries still suffer from poor fixed telecommunication networks, but the huge increase in the use of mobile technology has been a vehicle for change in business, politics and society in many African countries. Social media, in particular, has been the enabler that assisted the so called ‘Spring’ movements.

Highlights

•Internet access has been increasing throughout Africa, but is still very limited in some countries, such as Niger, Burundi and South Sudan, where less than 5% have access to mobile internet.

•Wholesale costs of internet connectivity are massively higher in most African countries than in Europe or the USA. 

•In 2016, the smallest mobile-internet package was equal to 14% of the average income per person in Africa, putting it out of most peoples’ reach. 

•Costs will reduce and accessibility increase following the installation of undersea cables, which are increasing capacity. This will benefit those closest to the coast, in both East and West Africa. 

•Use of social media is thought to have had a significant impact on events in the’ Arab Spring’ in 2011. 

•Economic development in Africa is closely linked to the availability of the internet. 

•With a very young (and growing) population, many African countries have significant potential for rapid economic growth, enabled by access to technology.


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