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Connection projects bringing Africa up to speed

Connection projects bringing Africa up to speed

Despite growth, African connectivity still lags other regions. However, several projects aim to ensure the continent doesn’t fall further behind.

In recent years, Africa has experienced exponential growth in internet access, largely driven by mobile uptake. However, eight of the world’s 10 countries with the lowest internet adoption, are in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Affordable) access remains a significant challenge to most Africans, especially the rural poor, women, and persons with disabilities.
Presence of infrastructure is a key hurdle to ubiquitous mobile broadband adoption. Furthermore, affordable, reliable off-grid electricity and literacy and digital skills, are critical to roll-out across the region. There are marked differences across the continent. In 2021, Algeria experienced the world’s fastest growth in internet speeds. Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire also recorded significant broadband speed growth.
A Statista analysis of World Bank data shows that 2020 (the most recent available year) saw significant positive changes in penetration rates across a large number of African countries. Ethiopia, for example, went from 0.8 percent to 25.0 - an increase of over 3,200 percent. Similar progress was also made in Sierra Leone, Guinea, DR Congo and several other countries. More undersea cables, with ever-increasing capacity are reaching African countries.


Kenya to unlock digital economy with submarine cable


Thirteen years after Kenya welcomed its first fibre cable, the country has now unveiled a sixth submarine internet cable. This $399.9 m link connects Africa to France and Pakistan through the Europe-Asia route. Direct connectivity to Asia which is expected to reduce communication delays between Africa and Asia.




Botswana connects 500 villages to the internet


Recently, Botswana’s government announced its plans to connect of 500 villages to the Internet. The US$12.7 million ‘SmartBots’ project will be implemented in phases. The project is in line with the government’s  National Broadband Strategy (NBS), launched in 2018 as part of its digital transformation process. Ultimately, the SmartBots project should bring broadband internet and digital services access to some 1.2 million Botswanans. 




Internet access for all of South Africa


The South African government aims to realise nationwide broadband by the end of 2023. Department of Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille said infrastructure development is critical to attaining South Africa’s long-term economic and social goals. In November 2021, South Africa’s Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni announced the fact that the government was considering a programme to bring internet access to all South Africans within 24 months. the National Infrastructure Plan 2050 (NIP 2050) recommends that ‘high speed broadband be universally accessible’ by end of 2023.




Tanzania bridging the digital divide


Government plans to expand national broadband connectivity aim to bridge Tanzania’s  digital divide. The plan will provide 66 districts with access to the national fibre optic cable. The goal is to construct 15,000 kilometres of pipeline by 2025. A cooperation between the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) has helped reduce costs and accelerate implementation of the project.




Broadband a ‘top priority’ in Burkina Faso


Last year, Burkina Faso’s Prime Minister announced investments to increase optical fibre broadband penetration in the country - one of the government’s top priorities. The government is working on development of Internet connectivity in urban areas and aims to connect all administrative buildings, businesses, and universities to fibre by 2030.