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History of the Internet in Africa: Impact

Internet has directly impacted on socio-economic and political environment in Africa. Improvement of access within countries enable more people to access to the Internet from individual machines, Internet cafes or Community Centre.


Short for "electronic government" - also known as e-gov, digital government, online government, or connected government - e-government is defined by digital interactions between a government and citizens (G2C), government and businesses/Commerce (G2B), government and employees (G2E), and also between government and governments /agencies (G2G) ( The development of Internet is having a serious impact on the adoption of E-Goverment by many countries in Africa.

The key challenge for the e-government development of Africa remains the widespread lack of infrastructure and functional literacy. Despite recent expansion in mobile telephony, most countries in Africa remain at the tail end of the digital divide. These challenges have translated into a lower than world average e-government development for all sub-regions. Southern Africa (0.3934) consistently outpaces all other sub-regions. Th ough there has been some improvement in all sub-regions, except for Northern Africa and Middle Africa, it has been minimal, with the least e-ready sub-region being Western Africa (0.2171)













Source E-Goverment United Nations Survey 2012

 Africa has seen improvement in e-government with countries in the region looking to increase their online presence through developing websites for government ministries and agencies.
















Source E-Goverment United Nations Survey 2012

The previous table shows that Seychelles (0.5192) climbed several points to number one in the region in 2012 followed by Mauritius (0.5066) and South Africa (0.4869). It is notable that all of the African leaders increased their e-government development index value in 2012 but lost in comparative performance around the world, except for Kenya and Morocco, which gained in the world rankings from 124 to 119 and from 126 to 120 respectively. Tunisia (0.4833) and Egypt (0.4611) declined in rank substantially as did Cape Verde (0.4297) because their improvements did not keep pace with those of other countries around the world.


Projects in the education sector have been implemented with  the availability of Internet connectivity in many countries. This is valid for from primary education to University and Research Centers.
Projects have been trying to connect academic institutions even before full IP connectivity in Africa.  National  and Regional Research and Education Network are taking advantage of full IP connectivities and fiber networks around the continent and within countries

Research and Education Networks

The EUMEDCONNECT project is a pioneering initiative to establish and operate an IP-based network in the Mediterranean region.  The EUMEDCONNECT project began in December 2001. Countries in the Mediterranean region able to benefit from the EUMEDCONNECT project are Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
The EUMEDCONNECT network serves the research and education communities of the Mediterranean region, and is linked to the pan-European GÉANT2 network.

UbuntuNet Alliance is the Regional Research and Education Network for Eastern and Southern Africa. It capitalises on the emergence of optical fibre and other terrestrial infrastructure opportunities to establish a high speed research and education backbone, which interconnects all National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in the region. Tertiary education and research institutions throughout the rest of the world are connected to the Internet and to each other using fast low-cost fibre connections. This gives them a huge research and learning bonus as they are able to share resources across locations easily

WACREN is the West and Central African Research and Education Network.  Incubation of the regional network started at AfNOG 2006 and at the Regional Workshop on Research and Education Networks organised by the Association of African Universities (AAU) in Accra in November 2006. The need to build organizational and technical capacity within constituent NREN countries was identified as a requirement for a viable network. WACREN has 8 members in 2012.

Distance  Learning

Internet development in Africa has also permitted distance learning initiative and programs on the continent. The World Bank began work on the African Virtual University (AVU), a satellite-based distance education program, in 1995. The program intends to provide Sub-Saharan African countries with university education in science and engineering, credit/continuing education programs, and remedial instruction.

To implement the operational phase, AVU has been transformed from being a project of the World Bank to an independent reputable inter-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya with over 34 learning centers in 17 African countries. The success of the AVU "proof-of-concept” stage and “transition” phase (July 1997–December 2001) offers evidence that AVU is well positioned to add tremendous value to its students and university partner institutions in Africa.


Players in the agricultural sectors are using market information system (MIS) to develop their activities. Many projects on MIS have been implemented in Africa.  Farmers can communicate with traders using online platforms. Combining mobile technologies farmers can have access the to market price or communicate with traders from their farm through MIS platform. This  enable more transparency in agricultural transaction.


Across Africa, the Internet is being used in Telemedicine, monitoring disease outbreaks, reporting and publications. Telemedicine is the process that uses ICTs to transmit medical images, records, and diagnoses to remote locations in order to overcome shortages in regional health-care providers. Telemedicine technologies include Internet related applications such E-mail, satellite transmissions, audio-visual conferencing, and radiotelephony