Internet is almost a luxury in Africa. According to CNN, it is estimated that only about 40% of Africa’s population has access to the internet. Additionally, for the population that is able to attain internet access, the internet rates in Africa have been categorized among the highest rates in the world. The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) found that the average affordability for 1 gigabyte (GB) of mobile broadband data is over 5% higher than the average for the rest of the world. While Africa is a continent where internet access is available to only a minority of people, 49% of the whole global population is offline as well.
Low Competition, High Demand
The availability of multiple competitors allows companies to offer competitive prices to their customers. However, the internet market in Africa is very consolidated. Few providers exist in the African internet market due to current regulations and a lack of incentives. Namibia and Kenya are two countries that have recently experienced improved internet access for their citizens as a result of recent regulation modifications.
A4AI advocates that internet providers from the public sector provide services that private companies are unable to supply. Providing public access is a major way that public sector internet providers can help remedy the situation.
Cameroon and Egypt recently made headlines for restricting the internet use of their civilians. Internet shutdowns have become increasingly more common since 2016, and to-date over 370 internet shutdowns have been documented. The internet shutdowns over the last three years have occurred in Africa, Europe, South America, and Asia, with Asia having over 80% of the 371 documented internet shutdowns.
The internet access issue in Africa is slowly being remedied, but the problem is still very prevalent for the majority of the African population. There are many benefits that continent-wide internet access will have for Africa, but officials are currently doing their best to make these benefits known. While a few countries, like Cameroon and Egypt, have done the opposite by restricting internet access to their citizens, various companies, such as the Web Foundation, are doing their best to present their points to these governments.