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Three key factors hobbling African broadband penetration discussed in Chicago

Global broadband experts have concluded their summit in Chicago, US and came up with roadmap that will neutralize three key challenges frustrating African efforts in broadband penetration and Nigeria in particular.

Panelists who discussed Africa Session of the International Telecoms Week conference in Chicago, identified infrastructure challenges, regulatory and economic constraints as obstructing growing Internet penetration on the continent.

According to them, African governments know what is good for the continent in terms of growth in the digital space, but they lacked the political will and futuristic vision of where massive investments in broadband will skyrocket the continental economy on delivery.

They agreed that the best option for Africa is to introduce policies that will not only make funds available at attractive interest rates for telecoms infrastructure companies (Infracos), but will mandate states or regional governments to exempt provision of broadband infrastructure from any form of taxation within a given number of years to deepen delivery of strategic internet services across the countries of Africa.

They also agreed that at the moment Africa is fully wired, it will impact positively to the aggregate economic development, continental GDP and job creation.

In his presentation on the theme “Enabling Content on the African Continent”, Guy Zibi, Chief of research at Xalam Analytics, observed that whereas the international capacity challenge has been solved, with most coastal countries exhibiting an oversupply of subsea cables, financial capacity and governments approvals to deploy infrastructure upcountry remain the current failure.

However, Globacom had blazed the trail in sealed a contract deal with Huawei Technologies to extend its sub marine cable, Glo 1,  from Lagos to Niger Delta to serve oil installations and the entire region with fast, reliable and real time broadband.  

He also hinted that terrestrial open access infrastructure had remained at abysmal level majority of the African markets especially countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Uganda and Tanzania, stressing that “These limitations have translated into retail connectivity prices as a proportion of income being 2X more expensive in Africa compared to Latin America and the Caribbean and 3X when compared to Asia”.