Much of Africa’s growth is attributed, in part, to the rise of mobility within key regions throughout the continent, as well as focus by governments on securing adequate infrastructure and investment for reliable connectivity.A great deal of progress has been made in the laying of undersea cable infrastructure to drive connectivity forward and link up regions to the rest of the world. Established systems such as WACS (West African Cable System), the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the SAT-3 or South Atlantic Submarine Cable System, have contributed to the overall levels of connectivity in Africa.
An increase in the number of mobile devices and greater access to these devices has also contributed. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) mobile-cellular subscriptions in Africa in 2013 stood at 545 million or 63.5 per 100 inhabitants. Additionally, the number of active mobile-broadband subscriptions in Africa is said to be estimated at 93 million or 10,9 per 100 inhabitants.
The ITU also states that 2.7 billion people (approximately 40% of the world’s population) are online. However, Africa accounts for just 16% of this usage. The ITU’s The World in 2013 ICT Facts and Figures states that in developing countries, fixed broadband services continue to be expensive and account for 30.1% of average monthly incomes. The ITU World Telecommunications /ICT Indicators database estimates that in Africa in 2013, there are 63.5 million mobile cellular subscriptions and 10.9 million active mobile-broadband subscriptions.
With mobility on the rise and the demand for stable high-speed broadband increasing, it is an interesting time to consider which are the most connected countries on the continent?
We have drafted a list of the top ten countries, based on broadband connectivity in relation to population, the rollout of technologies (3G, 4G, LTE, mobile and fixed lines), advanced telecommunications policy and regulation.
The rankings are also influenced by research, including the Economist/IMF, which listed the world’s ten fastest-growing economies (forecast for the period 2011 to 2015) according to the Annual average percentage GDP growth.
1. Morocco – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 55.00%
Average download speed: 4.15 Mbps
Morocco’s telecommunications regulator, ANRT, recently announced that it has authorized the country’s three mobile phone operators to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots for “the purpose of spreading broadband Internet use across the Kingdom.” Morocco’s mobile penetration stands at over 100 percent and demand for bandwidth continues to grow. New ANRT director Azdine El Mountassir Billah has announced that LTE will not be launched commercially before end-2014 or start-2015.
2. Seychelles – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 47.08%
Average download speed: 3.01Mbps
In October it was reported that the Seychelles government has agreed that Airtel Mobile Commerce (Seychelles) could engage in a pilot programme to test the practical and technical aspects of mobile payment services. In addition to the mobile money market, there is growing interest in solutions that add value to consumers, via mobile and telecommunication service providers – particularly solutions geared to assist mobile users. Trading Economics states that there are 109.2 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 people. According to Africa Review Seychelles was ranked first in the ITU’s ICT Development Index.
3. Egypt – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 44.07%
Average download speed: 1.82 Mbps
Despite ongoing socio-political turmoil in the country, technology remains a cornerstone of Egyptian society. The country’s telecommunications sector comprises several global service providers, including Etisalat Misr, Mobinil, Orascom Telecom and Vodafone, which focus on emerging business in Cairo. These established firms have reportedly witnessed a 23.1 percent growth rate since 2008. At the end of 2011, the country had 83.8 million mobile subscribers, nearly 100 percent penetration. Global research company Frost & Sullivan has reported that broadband Internet is considered to be a high-growth area and the sector generates revenue in the region of $6,35 billion. This figure is expected to exceed $11 billion by 2018. According to statistics published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2012, the percentage of individuals using the Internet stood at 44.07. There are reportedly 967,98801 mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions in the same year. In June this year Ericsson was reported to have joined an organisation, Refugees United, in support of a Hack For Good event in the City.
4. Tunisia – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 41.44%
Average download speed: 2.63 Mbps
As is the case with many countries throughout Africa, the Tunisian government considers ICT to be a strategic tool in helping it to enhance and optimise key sectors of the economy. A partnership brokered between Tunisie Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent in April focused on the use of VDSL2 Vectoring technology to contribute towards the establishment of high speed broadband throughout the country. According to media testing of the technology by Tunisie Telecom resulted in data speeds of 100Mbps downstream over a distance of 600 meters and 40Mpbs upstream.
5. Mauritius – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 41.39%
Average download speed: 8.87Mbps
Global mobile service providers continue to take an interest in emerging markets in Africa. Mauritius has been identified as one of several countries to receive the MTN Global Multiprotocol Label Switching Virtual Private Network (Global MPLS VPN) service by 2014. French telecommunications services provider’s Orange Horizons and South African mobile operator Nashua Mobile also confirmed interest in Mauritius.
6. South Africa – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 41.00%
Average download speed: 4.47 Mbps
South Africa’s Provincial Capital has, for some years, followed a Smart City Strategy, which means it adheres to the principles and dynamics of applying technology to optimise service delivery across all areas of metropolitan city life. The City forms part of a large fibre network, developed by Liquid Telecom, which runs from Uganda to SA’s ‘MotherCity’. In May 2012 Cape Town played host to investors, mobile network operators and ICT service providers at the launch of the West African Cable System (WACS) linking Southern Africa and Europe. It is considered a milestone in the technological development of the region and the continent.
7. Cape Verde – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 34.74%
Average download speed: 5.09 Mbps
The group of islands, Cape Verde, located to the West of Senegal, is growing in telecommunications capability. This year Alcatel-Lucent and the West Africa Cable System (WACS) Consortium signed a maintenance contract to maintain more than 9,000km of the System – with Cape Verde serving as a location for a key depot addressing maintenance requirements for West Africa. Earlier this year The African Development Bank (AfDB) launched Open Data Platforms for twenty African countries, including Cape Verde. The Open Data Platform program is part of the AfDB’s recently launched ‘Africa Information Highway’ initiative aimed at significantly improving data management and dissemination in Africa.
8. Nigeria- Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 32.88%
Average download speed: 17.48 Mbps
Indicative of its increased prominence as Nigeria’s technology hub, last month Lagos was the site of a launch of a 4G LTE network, involving over 500 volunteers, by Nigerian broadband internet and data services provider, Swift Networks. According to the Company the demand for true broadband internet has increased significantly in the Country. ICT leaders and decision makers recently met up in Lagos at ITNewsAfrica’s Innovation Dinner Series to discuss how technology is accelerating infrastructure development to help achieve the country’s Vision 2020 campaign. In September undersea cable operator Main One announced that it had won a grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency for the extension of the fibre network that runs from Lagos to Port Harcourt.
9. Kenya – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 32.10%
Average download speed: 4.99 Mbps
Inhabited by over 43-million residents, Kenya is one of Africa’s fastest growing countries in terms of telecommunications infrastructure. Together with South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, Kenya plays a critical role in driving innovation across the continent. Safaricom is Kenya’s largest mobile network provider. According to the company’s website it has a subscriber base of over 17 million. Most of their subscribers are resident in major metropolitan areas such as Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru. The company has a net income of about £171-million. The average age of the 10.4-million users connected to the Internet ranges between 15-34 years old, while 21% fall into the 18-24 age bracket. Over 56% of the Internet users are college or university educated, and spend 70 minutes on the Internet per visit.
10. Sudan – Percentage of individuals using the Internet: 21.00%
Average download speed: 1.54 Mbps
According to the ITU, there are over 27 million mobile subscriptions in 2012. The country has several international ISP gateways including Sudatel and Zain, and there is continued interest in moving ahead with efforts to migrate from analogue to digital television broadcasting, according to the National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC).
* Images via Shutterstock.com