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'Africa can beat the 2020 connectivity deadline'

'Africa can beat the 2020 connectivity deadline'

Despite only 20% of its population being connected, Africa can still meet the Broadband Commission's 2020 deadline to cover at least 50% of the continent with internet connectivity.

This is according to Riaan Graham, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa.

"Internet access on the continent is still limited. The lower penetration rates in comparison to the rest of the world and access to real broadband still remains out of reach for far too many Africans," Graham told ITWeb Africa.

He suggests the most prevalent way to spread connectivity is through public Wi-Fi deployments that are currently led by mobile operators, but cautioned that broadband connectivity needs to be handled in specific ways.

"In order to make it a reality, premium quality outdoor Wi-Fi needs to be deployed in combination with fibre or microwave – dependant on terrain. This is now well proven in locations across the world, including Africa – and available at a price point that is applicable to even the most economically challenged parts of Africa."

Graham believes internet companies can help accelerate the adoption of connectivity through programmes like the 'Internet for All policies' initiated by the World Economic Forum.

According to the organisation, it is estimated a 10% increase in broadband penetration in low- and middle-income countries can result in a 1.38% increase in economic growth.

"The programme aims to deliver widespread broadband access to 90% of the country's population by 2020 and 100% by 2030. The project is aimed at fast tracking the connectivity goal which is quite enormous but achievable - if government and the private sector work together to spread the infrastructure where it is not available," said Graham.

He added that businesses migrating to the cloud will need stable connectivity.

"As businesses become more connected, they require different solutions that will give them the flexibility and adaptability they require and very importantly, at a price point they can afford. As such, many are turning to the cloud and software defined infrastructure to streamline processes, decrease costs and ensure scalability to requirements."

According to Graham the lowering of handset prices and demand for internet connectivity could lead to organic growth for ISPs.

"We are well on our way, but much still needs to be done to deliver on the 2020 promise," he said.

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