A number of African countries have made progress in the digital space by expanding Internet connectivity. However, various reports have indicated that more still needs to be done. This is in view of a continental comparative analysis that shows Africa lagging behind other continents.
This is the case especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where a multiplicity of constraints related to economic, culture and politics, barricade progress of digital access.
Reports show that, Africa has the least Google activity and news tap with disparity between those with a high-tech connection and those without connection speed, lack of Internet access as well as devices – which are essential to getting online. The problems stem from slow economic growth and poor education that are prevalent in most African countries.
The expensive data and devices in low Gross Domestic Product countries make it difficult for consumers to purchase these essentials. The consumer behaviour among the small population that own smartphones and personal computers is quite revealing.
A person with digital gadgets may not see the value of subscribing to high-speed Internet bandwidth which is essential for maintaining a reliable connectivity. The reasons for such a decision may be lack of awareness or the high prices that accompany the service.
Among the rural dwellers that are more affected than their urban counterparts, the reason is poor grid infrastructure that limits their access to electricity.
A report by the World Bank claims that only 19 per cent of the Sub-Saharan African population has Internet connectivity compared to 88 per cent in North Africa.
The divide is also alarming among the sub-Saharan countries where 47 per cent of the population of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have access to the Internet compared to eight per cent of the population in Ethiopia and Tanzania.
None of the sub-Saharan countries has passed the 50 per cent mark of Internet access. This emphasises the need for drastic intervention by all stakeholders, particularly private and public partnerships, aimed at achieving widespread Internet connectivity throughout the length and breadth of Africa.
Francophone countries are the most affected negatively, in terms of digital connectivity, when compared to Anglophone countries. This is due to their slow economic growth. They also happen to be the countries with low ownership of smartphones.
In countries such as Congo and Mali, less than 22 per cent of the population own smartphones. A report by the Global ICT development indicates that mobile subscription and Internet use have increased in Africa but broadband subscription needs to — Finish Reading on the Punch