300 Million Internet Connectivity Gap In Africa

300 Million Internet Connectivity Gap In Africa Slows Technological Growth

Internet Connectivity Gap In Africa

Numerous initiatives to advance technology development in the continent have been hampered by the 300 million+ unconnected people in Africa. Therefore, leaders and decision-makers have been urged to identify ways to close the gap as soon as possible.

One of the main topics of discussion yesterday at the GITEX Africa Digital Summit 2023, which is now taking place in Marrakesh, Morocco, was closing the gap.

It was stated that having affordable high-speed Internet connection is a vital factor in driving innovation and economic growth. Thus, it was revealed that more than 300 million Africans reside more than 50 kilometres from a fibre or cable broadband connection.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country’s telecoms regulator, disclosed initiatives to eliminate access gaps, including, among other things, improvements in broadband connectivity and InfraCo projects.

NCC pointed out that over 25 million people, who live in 114 towns across the nation, still lack access to basic telephony service.

Approximately 320 million telephone lines in Nigeria are currently connected, of which more than 220 million are active. According to NCC figures, 92 million people utilize broadband, compared to 157 million people who use narrow band to access the Internet.

Ousman Bah, the minister of communications and digital economy for The Gambia, stated that cooperation between the public and private sectors is necessary to close access gaps in Africa.

Low acceptance of digitalization is one of the difficulties Bah listed as well as an opportunity to close access gaps in the region, adding: “This is where collaboration between the government and private sector becomes very critical. Governments cannot do it alone.”

He did emphasize that there is an issue with some governments’ unwillingness to perceive technology as a tool rather than as a way to raise revenue through the imposition of various levies.

“Government must have the political will to invest in technology, not just to collect taxes from them. Also, we must create the enabling environment for investors to come in like the coming of Elon Musk’s Starlink in Nigeria, the Gambia and others,” he said.

The minister for the Gambia emphasized the value of investment, policy development, and infrastructure expansion. According to Freddy Mpinda, senior advisor to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) minister of digital transformation, there is a strong link between connectivity and any nation’s economic development.

Mpinda emphasized that other African nations may learn from these nations, citing Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Kenya as examples of the economic prosperity that connectivity has given to these nations.

However, he was adamant that as long as Africans had access to food and education, technological advancement would not present a significant obstacle.

Mpinda emphasized the importance of gender inequality, infrastructure expansion, cyber security (data protection), and policy advancement.

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