For years, Africa had to rely on expensive satellite connections for (frankly unreliable) Internet access. As a matter of fact, until 2009, East Africa in particular was the last major region on Earth without any form of fibre-optic broadband Internet access. This was until the first submarine fibre optic broadband cables were installed in the area, allowing internet broadband service providers to penetrate the market and try to improve the state of the internet in the continent.
Global connectivity has so far been Africa’s greatest shot at being one with the rest of the world, in terms of the worldwide economy and the country’s own development as a technologically progressing nation. Many were confident that improved Internet access in Africa would soon open the floodgates for businesses and entrepreneurs, both from Africa and other parts of the world, to take part in the African market and help it grow further. Unfortunately, the region still faces Internet connectivity challenges to this day.
A broadband Internet service provider shares some of the reasons Africa remains “internet-challenged:”
- Abysmal network performance. A significant chunk of the problem lies in Africa’s regrettably poor internet performance. As of 2011, the total bandwidth available to shuttle data between African countries and the rest of the world did not even reach 1 terabit per second – a tiny fraction of the international bandwidth capacity of Europe.
- Insanely high costs. The cost of bandwidth in Africa is also prohibitive. The country’s average monthly cost of broadband Internet is 28 USD — over ten times the United Kingdom’s, despite the fact that the UK’s average broadband internet speed clocks in at about five times higher than Africa’s.
- The lack of facilities. Africa only had three fiber-optic links to the global Internet way back in 2008. Two of these were in the north, while the last one was in the west. But, telecommunications companies and government organisations have been cooperating in bringing more submarine cables and terrestrial connections to Africa, starting during the 2011 World Cup.
South Africa is among the few developing countries with a high-cost/low-speed internet ratio. Here’s hoping that future efforts would propel Africa’s connectivity to the stratosphere.