Fixed and Mobile Broadband in Africa: An Executive Summary.

AuthorLancaster, Henry

Fixed Broadband Market: Statistics and Analyses

More Internet investment needed to sustain Africa's economic growth

The development of the Internet market in Africa has been stymied by the poor quality and relative scarcity of the fixed-line infrastructure. As a consequence more than 90% of all Internet connections are via mobile networks. However, there is continuing progress being made to increase fixed-line connectivity, both at the backhaul and the local level. Growth is expected to be strong in most markets in coming years, albeit from a low base.

Supported by sympathetic regulatory regimes as also by governments which have come to understand the key functions of broadband connectivity for economic growth, a number of countries have focused on their fiber-based national broadband plans. There are also a number of countries with active small-scale fiber operators which have concentrated their efforts in wealthy suburbs and business districts.

Taking their cue from policies adopted in Europe and elsewhere, regulators are formulating policies which encourage network sharing and access to ducts, thus facilitating the roll out of networks and reducing deployment costs. Key markets for these developments include South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia. In Tunisia the regulator in September 2016 launched a public consultation regarding its plans to introduce measures aimed at sharing and accessing operators' fiber-optic infrastructure. The plans are intended to develop economic and technical conditions for sharing networks which will expedite rollouts by minimizing costs. For its part, Tunisie Telecom has partnered with Korea Telecom to develop a 1Gb/s broadband service, while it has also trialed G.fast technology providing data at up to 800Mb/s over short loops.

There is also continuing activity and investment in terrestrial and subsea infrastructure, aimed at providing the necessary backhaul capacity to support fixed-line and, more particularly, mobile data traffic. Increased bandwidth is also helping to reduce broadband pricing for end-users, thus enabling a greater proportion of the population to access services.

International bandwidth supply is substantially higher than demand, and there is considerable capacity remaining even without the potential given by future cable upgrades. As such, effort is being concentrated in improving last-mile access. Although this is principally being made via 3G and LTE networks, there is...

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