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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

  • The Internet Society has strengthened its commitment to Africa’s technology development by selecting 23 fellows from 20 countries to participate at the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF).

    Through the fellowship program, participants from countries that exchange a lot of content locally will get a chance to share experiences with countries that are at the preliminary stages of setting up local infrastructure. The meeting is taking place in Tanzania from August 30th to September 1st 2016.

    Instituted in 2010, the fellowship is part of AfPIF’s efforts to...

    Date published 19 August 2016

  • The Sudan Network Operator’s Group (SDNOG) is holding its third annual training event in Khartoum, Sudan from the 14th to the 18th of August 2016. The event consists of a mixture of instructor lead technical training workshops and plenary presentations focusing on Networking and System Administration topics. Michuki Mwangi from the Internet Society Africa Regional Bureau is at the event as a facilitator in the Network Security sessions where he will also be making presentations on Internet Society’s campaign to build participation from Africa in the IETF. The Internet society is happy to...

    Date published 17 August 2016

  • The Internet Engineering Task Force held its 96th meeting in Berlin from July 17- 22 2016. More than 1350 volunteers from around the world gathered to discuss the status of their works in 42 active working groups. There were also 8 BOF (Birds of a Feather) meetings to discuss the need to start new working groups.

    I had the chance to follow some of the fascinating discussions on future standards that will determine the Internet we will have a few years from now.  I was in particular interested on the works that concerns Internet of Things (IoT) that I will try...

    Date published 25 July 2016

  • 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