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IP traffic set to soar in Africa

IP traffic set to soar in Africa.

Africa will experience the highest IP growth rate globally at 41%, according to the Cisco Visual Network Index Complete Forecast for 2015 to 2020.

According to the Index the continent's IP traffic is predicted to grow 6-fold and fixed broadband speed 2.4-fold with an average mobile speed connection of 5Mbps.

Traffic growth is immediately attributed to key drivers including the adoption of personal devices and deployment of machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.

In a statement Cisco states that over the next five years, IP networks will support up to 10 billion new devices and connections, increasing from 16.3 billion in 2015 to 26.3 billion by 2020. Within Africa, a renowned mobile centric hub, there will be approx. 1, 5 networked devices per capita in 2020, 77% of which will be mobile-connected.

Advancements in the Internet of Things (IoT) is also identified as a significant influence.

"Applications such as video surveillance, smart meters, digital health monitors and a host of other M2M services are creating new network requirements and incremental traffic increases. Globally, M2M connections are calculated to grow nearly three-fold from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 12.2 billion by 2020, representing nearly half (46 percent) of total connected devices. Within Africa, M2M modules will account for 22% of all networked devices by 2020," Cisco states.

Mark Walker, Associated VP: Sub-Saharan Africa, IDC Middle East, Africa & Turkey, says as far as Africa's IP growth rate is concerned, the percentage predicted is not inconceivable – given, he says, the relatively low current level of IP connectivity in the general African population by developed world standards. "That is assuming policy, infrastructure and affordability issues are swiftly addressed. The lack of a comprehensive terrestrial IP network that would complement the undersea network may impact these predictions."

The resolution of these issues will also influence the growth trajectory expected within IoT, Walker adds. "Many of the IoT applications mentioned are nascent across most of sub-Saharan Africa with the exception of South so while the global rates will be reflected in South Africa the rate in the majority of sub- Saharan African countries will depend on policy alignment, infrastructure availability and affordability issues being resolved."

He also acknowledges Cisco's reference to the impact of video services and content, which he says will account for an increasing chunk of internet traffic – especially as locally produced and local language content begins to take hold.

"The more the young and growing urban African population incorporates Internet services into their daily routines from watching entertainment through to online purchasing and interaction with government agencies, the better business will be able to leverage this reality especially as disposable income increases. Businesses that are online already and have a comprehensive digital strategy that supports scale and excellence in customer experience will be the winners. The benefit for laggards is that barriers to entry are still relatively low and any slack can be made up. Key to success will be close understanding of customer expectations and agility to turn quickly to meet new expectations, important to note is that these issues are not related to technology itself but to customers and the business itself," says Walker.

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