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Mozambique must address low internet access, affordability says A4AI

Mozambique must address low internet access, affordability says A4AI

Mozambique should do more to boost internet usage in the country and lower the cost of access say experts at the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI). They say this can be achieved through reforms to boost infrastructure sharing and incentivise telecom investment projects.

The Southern African country's internet access rate is below 20% and it is positioned in 45th place out of 58 on A4AI's 2017 Internet Affordability Enablers Index.

According to www.internetworldstats.com Mozambique, with a population of about 30.5 million, has a mobile penetration rate of about 17.3% with approximately 5.2 million people able to access the internet.

The country recently officially introduced several reforms in a bid to boost its telecoms industry, including a new telecommunications law to encourage an increase in competition.

However this is still considered insufficient to boost internet access, a situation exacerbated by accessibility costs generally considered too high compared to regional counterparts.

"Internet access in Mozambique is increasing and prices are coming down, though it still remains unaffordable for the majority of Mozambicans," said Sonia Jorge, Executive Director at A4AI.

The organisation claims that for the average citizen in Mozambique, 1GB of mobile broadband data costs nearly 7% of average monthly income and owing to the country's income disparities and inequality, the "true cost to connect is much higher for those living in poverty or earning less" than the national average income.

"Women are disproportionately affected by the high cost to connect - just 33% of women in poor areas of Maputo, the capital, are using the internet, compared with 59% of men," said Jorge.

A report by Budde.com says mobile internet is dominant in the country as a result of poor fixed-line infrastructure which is holding back the market for fixed-line internet services.

"The high cost of international bandwidth had long hampered internet use, though the landing of two international submarine cables (SEACOM and EASSy) has reduced the cost of bandwidth and so led to drastic reductions in broadband retail prices," reads an excerpt from the report.

Campaigners for affordable internet access say have lauded reforms, including advancing competition in the market, approving a new telecommunications law, developing proposed infrastructure sharing regulations, and the implementation of USAF-funded projects to expand internet access.

However, the new telecommunications law needs to be backed "with the right regulatory instruments, incentives and resources", according to the A4AI which added, "Regulations to encourage and incentivise infrastructure sharing and open access, as well as a 'dig once' approach to infrastructure investment would encourage much-needed development in rural communities and other underserved areas."

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