Internet Penetration in Africa Reached 4% in 2006, up from 2.6% on the Previous Year
This annual report offers a wealth of information on the African Broadband and Internet markets. Subjects include:
-- The broadbanding of Africa - policies, initiatives, projects
-- Internet statistics and market analyses
-- Barriers to Internet development
-- Internet and broadband infrastructure
-- International bandwidth and local connectivity
-- Community telecentres
-- The emergence of xDSL in Africa
-- Internet via satellite
-- Wireless Broadband
-- Local, national and regional ISPs
-- The role of the mobile networks and 3G
-- VoIP telephony liberalisation and grey markets
Internet and broadband markets: still virtually untapped
While Internet uptake is growing strongly, market penetration is still very low due to the lack of reliable phone lines. By early 2006, overall Internet penetration in Africa was around 4% (up from 2.6% a year earlier), with the highest penetration recorded in Reunion and the Seychelles (over 20%), followed by Mauritius (15%) and Morocco (12%). This compares with over 50% penetration in developed countries. Nevertheless, several African countries have experienced triple-digit growth rates in Internet usage in recent years, including Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania, and this trend is expected to continue in 2006.
Various broadband initiatives have been launched and the number of countries offering commercial ADSL services reached 21 at the end of 2005 after tripling to 15 during 2004. By early 2006, around 95% of all Internet subscribers in Morocco were already using ADSL services - an unusually high percentage for Africa.
Egypt surpassed South Africa during 2004 in terms of the number of Internet users, thanks to a much more liberalised market. Around 5 million are estimated to have accessed the Internet in Egypt in 2005, up from 2.7 million at the end of 2003, while in South Africa growth had been stagnant for years just above the three million mark, with growth returning to the market in 2005 following price reductions for ADSL services. The next biggest African Internet markets are Morocco, and way behind Nigeria and Kenya.
While the total number of Internet users is difficult to measure, ISP subscriber accounts across the continent in early 2006 are estimated at between 5.5 and 6 million (up significantly from around 2 million a year earlier), most of which are based in Northern Africa and South Africa. However, each computer with an Internet or e-mail connection in Africa on average supports 3 to 4 users. Given the very low PC penetration rates, most users access Internet services through Internet cybercafes or kiosks, community telecentres, community phone-shops, schools and other types of public Internet access. However, the ratio of users per Internet subscription has about halved during 2005, indicating improved affordability of personal Internet access.
Although substantial numbers of cybercafes have been established in most countries over the last few years, the Internet has so far had the greatest impact at the top end of business and in well-educated, wealthy families, primarily in the major urban areas.
Still, the high cost of accessing the Internet in Africa is a serious constraint on economic growth. In more than half the countries in Africa, one year of Internet access costs more than the average annual income. Only in Egypt, Libya and Mauritius is the annual cost less than 10% of the average income. Lower prices result from deregulation, competition and foreign investments in the ICT sector, and in some cases government subsidies.
The only African nations given the medium ICT ratings in the ITU's Digital Access Index (DAI) report were South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Cape Verde, Algeria, Gabon and Morocco. All other African countries fall within the low access category.
There are at least 300 PoPs for Internet access across the continent, around a third of which are in South African cities and towns. In addition, a growing number of countries now have local call charges for all calls to the Internet regardless of distance.
Wireless access technologies and also the mobile networks in Africa are increasingly being used as a substitute for poor or non-existing fixed-line infrastructures. Both GSM and CDMA digital systems are used for dial-up Internet access, but the achievable data rates are relatively low. However, this has brought at least some level of connectivity to many areas that are unlikely to be serviced by the fixed networks, especially in rural areas along major arteries. The growing number of GPRS- and EDGE-capable GSM networks, 1x-enabled CDMA networks and eventually the proliferation of Third Generation (3G) and WiMAX systems will enhance wireless-based Internet connectivity.
1. OVERVIEW OF THE BROADBAND AND INTERNET MARKETS
6. BURKINA FASO
9. COTE D'IVOIRE
10. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
26. SOUTH AFRICA
34. GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS
List of Exhibits and Tables
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