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


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

  • On Wednesday June 8 2016, I had a pleasure to give a presentation on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to staff members of the Computer Science Department of the University of Botswana in Gaborone. It was a pleasure not only because it is nice to be back in the university environment that I enjoy but also because I like to talk about the IETF and why Africans should participate significantly in the standardisation works at IETF.

    Until now, the participation of Africans in IETF was almost inexistent. This has to change if Africa wants to be at the forefront of the...

    Date published 23 June 2016

  • Location: Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
    Date: 30th August- 1st September 2016

    I'm leaving an incredible week at the African Internet Summit in Bostwana feeling inspired! Africa IS at a tipping point and we need to keep the momentum going.

    To that end I'd like to remind everyone about the African Peering and Interconnection Forum (or AfPIF it's known) happening at the end of August in  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

    AfPIF about building connections.

    Connections across boarders, connections between people, connections between...

    Date published 10 June 2016

  • The Internet changes everything.

    It connects one person to another, one community to another, one nation to another. It allows for innovation and the delivery of healthcare, education, financial and other government services.  It allows us to see places we may never have had the chance to see and for people to become friends with those who would have otherwise been strangers. It is an Internet of Opportunity.

    The Internet is life changing. So much so that all 193 world leaders at the United Nations summit in September 2015 agreed that connectivity was so important they...

    Date published 07 June 2016

  • In conjunction with the Africa Internet Summit (AIS) in Gaborone, Botswana, the Internet Society will be holding a panel discussion on Internet Infrastructure Security in Africa.

    When: Friday June 10 2016, from 12-13:30 PM UTC Where:  Gaborone International Conference Centre, Tsodilo B4 Background

    Internet is becoming a critical infrastructure for Africa. We increasingly depend on Internet to communicate, to socialize and most importantly to do our daily job and activities. A major outage of the Internet Infrastructure has become a major fear of operators,...

    Date published 31 May 2016

  • As Africa’s Internet infrastructure is expanding, it is important to understand its dynamics through network measurements and monitoring. The Atlas project provides a framework to achieve this. The more probes and anchors deployed in Africa, the more accurate the data about the African Internet will be available.

    In this regard, we are pleased to inform you that in collaboration with AFRINIC and RIPE NCC we have published a brochure on RIPE Atlas Probes and Anchors. This is the result of identifying the need of our community to understand the use and benefits of Atlas Probes and...

    Date published 27 May 2016