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Africa

Since the year 2000 Africa has become a major player in today's information age
© iStockPhoto / Internet Society

Highlights


Regional Context:

Average price per GB of traffic in Sub-Saharan Africa for Internet access

Download: The price of
Internet Access in
Sub-Saharan Africa

Since the year 2000 Africa has been laying the groundwork to become a major player in today’s information age. In the past decade, online access has quadrupled and cell-phone usage has increased tenfold – making it one of the fasting growing regions in the online world.

While improved access to the Internet represents huge potential for Africa’s economic, political and cultural future, these numbers still only represent a fraction of Africa’s population.

Why should the world worry about this digital divide? Many economists think, with the right tools, this could be Africa’s century.

It’s becoming less and less of a well-kept secret that Africa is in the midst of a profound transformation. Since 2004 economic growth has grown steadily at 6%. Internationally the continent is also opening itself up to global and local trade, proving that even when most of the world is in a financial crisis, Africa can remain open for business.

Almost 15 years ago, experts at the Internet Society outlined how the Internet has a lot to offer emerging economies - everything from software and education, to boosting handicrafts and human rights. But without a progressive Internet environment, cyberspace will continue to exacerbate the digital divide between North and South, urban and rural, and English-speaking and non-English-speaking parts of the world.

Increased access to the Internet and the web also means political change. Africa rattled the walls of the online world when citizens of Tunisia and Egypt used the Internet as one of the main tools to challenge tradition and change the rules. We also saw a global outcry when a medium that fundamentally supports opportunity, empowerment, knowledge, growth, and freedom was taken away.

While social media is a fact of life for many of us, Africa was one of the first areas in the world where regular citizens, activists, nongovernmental organizations, and business people demonstrated the freedom of speech these online tools can give. It was, and is, history in the making.

By lending their voice to the online world, Africa will not only help bring its economic growth to a world in the midst of change but also its rich voice to a global tool that has been built for users, by  users.

How We Work:

The Regional Bureau in Africa acts as an advisor to other Internet Society departments on issues affecting our work. Its also provides critical insight on local business, technology and policy issues to the Internet Society and its stakeholders.

The Bureau also work with Chapters to grow individual memberships, support their initiatives and help them advance in their support of the Internet Society's mission and values. This includes the focus on building trust and providing transparent guidance for Chapters and helping each Chapter develop strong projects.

We Focus On:

Education - Through a number of programmes we help local communities, neighbourhoods, and villages build their skills to access and develop the Internet and the World Wide Web.

Cybersecurity - While improved access to the Internet is a great economic opportunity for Africa, it also means it is becoming increasingly vulnerable to threats such as viruses, hackers, and malicious spam.

Mobile - While Africa is one of the leading countries in terms of mobile Internet – access to the network that supports it (known as the Global System for Mobile Technology, or “GSM”) remains a challenge.

Cost - Africa has some of the highest prices in the world when it comes to online connection. Why? Many of its countries are simply not connected. This means if you lived in Accra, Ghana and wanted to send an e-mail to a friend in Nairobi, Kenya, your message might have to travel to France before it can make its way Kenya. This means higher costs and service that can be slow and unpredictable.

Policy - We work to help make sure public laws at the local, national, regional, and international level are developed to help support the development of an open and user defined Internet.

Africa Blog

  • Bom Dia

    Your Excellency Eng. David Gomes, Board Chairman, ANAC

    Your Excellency, Commissioner for Telecoms and Information Technologies at the Economic Community of West African States

    Dear Mr. Richard Barnes, member of board of trusties of the Internet Society

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It is a great pleasure for me to speak on behalf of my organization the Internet Society, in Praia at the Intercommunity, a novel meeting that talks about the Internet on the Internet. For those of you who do not know the Internet Society, please allow me to say a few words...

    Date published 21 September 2016

  • The Internet Society is teaming up with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to promote the benefits of the Internet to people throughout West Africa.

    ECOWAS is a group of fifteen West African countries and it promotes economic integration across the region. The Internet Society will work with ECOWAS to encourage greater use of the Internet by people in West African through joint activities. 

    Dawit Bekele, Africa Regional Bureau Director for the Internet Society and Isaias Barreto da Rosa, ECOWAS Commissioner for Telecommunications and Information...

    Date published 21 September 2016

  • By Mwotil Alex, Systems Engineer at Research and Education Network for Uganda

    The online training course, "Introduction to Network Operations: UNIX/Linux, Networking, and DNS" provided by the Internet Society (ISOC), has presented a platform on which Research Education Network for Uganda (RENU) member institutions can understand and diagnose various Network and Systems challenges.

    From a well researched and presented introduction to Unix/Linux and its utilities, an introduction to Networks and DNS coupled with hands-on exercises, the participants of the course have been able...

    Date published 14 September 2016

  • Sub-Saharan Africa has seen great improvements in connectivity infrastructure and affordability in recent years. In particular, in some countries up to 90% or more of citizens have access to mobile Internet signals. In spite of this, Internet adoption is stagnating in many countries. The report "Promoting Content in Africa" poses that in order to spur growth, a greater emphasis on the demand for Internet connectivity is required. The report focusses on a number of issues which need to be addresses in order to facilitation content creation and availability, thereby improving the...

    Date published 31 August 2016

  • While access to the Internet used to be the critical bottleneck in many emerging countries, the mobile Internet has changed all of that. Just as mobile telephony quickly leap-frogged fixed telephony in almost every country, the mobile Internet is now the main form of access for most users. Today, with some countries having 90% availability of mobile Internet, but with adoption far below that level, we see clearly that Internet access is a means to an end, and that end is Internet content. Our new report, "Promoting Content in Africa" shows that...

    Date published 31 August 2016

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