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In the current world even though it is hard to imagine a world without the internet, there actually exists a world with little or no connectivity to the internet Africa with only 22 percent of the people having the access to internet connectivity, has the lowest number of internet connections. The less number of connections in the continent also creates more potential for progress in the country too. The network connectivity is expanding in Sub-Saharan Africa and basic digital services like mobile banking and WhatsApp chatting will become a reality for the African people with reliable internet connectivity.
How Far Behind Is Africa?
Currently, more than 1.2 million kilometres of internet cables run across various ocean floors. Even though the improved connectivity of the internet was gradual for the world, it was completely absent for Africa, 20 years ago. The few people of the African population that had access to internet connectivity either were using satellite-provided internet or were paying a sum of money which was ten times more compared to the other regions of the world. At the top of it, the internet service present in Africa was extremely slow and unreliable. However, internet connectivity started improving in the continent when IFC and the World Bank joined hands in 2007 to build undersea internet cables for Africa.
The Requirements To Improve Internet Connectivity
Even at a personal level, the internet connectivity can be improved highly with the help of good routers like D-Link and TP-Link, the overall internet connectivity improvement in the region much more. Firstly, the continent needed a huge sum of money to lay the submarine cables and many private sector partners came forward to contribute and the money was mostly mobilized by IFC. On the other hand, the World Bank negotiated with the government to resolve regulator issues that were required for cross-border connectivity. The East African Cable System finally became operational in 2010 that expanded the internet accessibility to coast and landlocked countries of the African continent. The success also ended up reducing the cost of broadband connection by a humongous amount of 90 per cent.
Internet Accessibility Is Improving In Africa
The project improved internet connectivity for the African people drastically by giving internet access to more than 250 million. Also, the internet that is now cheaper and faster was used for creating new industries and new job opportunities. The impact of such improvement was seen in the form of increased employment by more than 10 per cent in some regions. Also, this success contributed to the improvement in the Gross Domestic Product.
Broadband Expansion From Sea To Land
With the success of the East African Cable System, the next challenge that lies ahead of Africa was to expand the broadband connection by bridging the gap between underwater submarine cables and inland internet connection with the help of fibre-optic networks. In 2017, four big firms Google, IFC, Convergence Partners and Mitsui & Co. invested in a firm named CSquared that provides open-access fibre-optic networks in the African continent to the underdeveloped countries. The firm judiciously works with the shared infrastructure to make the service more affordable. According to the latest data, fibre optic cables of 3000 kilometres have already been laid by CSquared in three countries, namely, Liberia, Ghana and Uganda making it possible for more than 40 internet service providers and mobile operators to offer broadband services to the general public. The broadband connection expansion offered by CSquared will greatly benefit Uganda. In Uganda, the improvements are considered significant as previously, only one of the 50 households had a reliable connection. With the progress made by CSquared, the data cost decreased by 40 per cent.
Internet Will Soon Become Basic In Africa
Internet connectivity and accessibility are already improving in Africa. With the increase in affordability, internet speed is also improving, boosting internet-related business and increasing job opportunities. Even though the number is still grave, the condition is improving tremendously in Africa. Improved internet connectivity means better education, accessibility to healthcare and bigger business, all the factors which are required for socioeconomic advancement. Many developing and developed countries are using digital technology to win the COVID-19 pandemic and Africa has joined the race for it by using the internet to register for the vaccine and burst the myths surrounding it.