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Why Africa's digital transformation hinges on connectivity

Why Africa's digital transformation hinges on connectivity

Improving the quality of internet in Africa is key to the continent's successful digital transformation and the ripple effect of this is catalytic across education, enterprise, and entrepreneurial sectors, not to mention health and infrastructure - all critical factors in economic development and growth.

This is according to Benjamin Deveaux, head of business development at Workonline Communications.

The wholesale network service provider recently expanded its East African presence by making its IP transit services available in Nairobi, Kenya.

Deveaux says the company has partnered with the largest of Tier 1 networks to distribute internet in Africa, and connect African ISPs to the rest of the world. "Having wholesale IP transit services available closer to the end users improves the user experience by, amongst other things, decreasing latency, and creating a platform for ISPs to grow from in that region."

He added that this year the company expects increased uptake of internet services, digitisation, and content creation to propel the internet economy.

Growing connectivity

The Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016 - 2021 states that global IP traffic will increase nearly three-fold over the next five years, and will have increased 127-fold from 2005 to 2021. Overall, IP traffic will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 24% from 2016 to 2021.

Annual global IP traffic will reach 3.3 ZB (ZB; 1000 Exabytes [EB]) by 2021.

In 2016, Cisco says global IP traffic was 1.2 ZB per year or 96 EB (one billion GB) per month. By 2021, global IP traffic will reach 3.3 ZB per year or 278 EB per month.

According to Internet World Stats, as of 30 June 2017, Africa had a total of 388,376,491 internet users, compared to 4,514,400 in the year 2000, with 31.2% of the overall population penetrated, growing by 8,503.1%.

In 2017 Nigeria recorded the highest number of subscribers at (91,598,757), followed by Kenya (43,329,434), Egypt (37,333,841), and South Africa (29,935,634).

More investment needed

Research featured by Budde.com, the 2016 Africa Fixed Broadband Market, Statistics, and Analyses Report, notes "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."

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