This year is expected to usher in a heightened level of adoption and deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) across the continent.
Already, projections from experts suggest that the public cloud in emerging African states will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 84 percent over the next five years. This is expected to be a key driver of the expected ICT proliferation across the region.
Forecasts from the International Data Corporation (IDC) predict a particularly intense effect on economic development and social progress on the continent owing to the widespread adoption and use of ICT over the next 12 months.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is finally realizing its potential for economic growth, and now boasts six of the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world and ICT is playing a key role in not only supporting this economic boom, but also shaping its future direction,” says Mark Walker, IDC’s regional director for Africa.
He noted, however, that the latest ICT trends are set to drive strong GDP growth across the continent, modernizing and optimizing every sector of the economy and facilitating closer intra-Africa trade. Governments with relevant, effective national ICT policies will therefore build on this and begin to dominate the economic landscape, Walker notes.
Governments have not been left out in the increasing adoption of ICT as an enabler of service delivery. Because of this, e-government and m-government initiatives now rank high on the strategies for addressing emerging challenges caused by rapid urbanization.
When it occurs in a haphazard fashion, urban expansion can be an obstacle to economic growth. This presents a case for the deployment of ICT in ensuring good urban governance through the use of smart grids in utilities, water supply monitoring, safety and security, and video surveillance. IDC expects a closer synergy between nations in 2015 because of the advantages from the smart ICT initiatives.
“Effective regional integration will help breach the barriers that undermine the daily operations of ordinary producers and traders of both goods and services,” Walker adds. “This includes payment systems, financial inclusion, and cross-border payments, and the increased implementation of such ICT-enabled financial transactions in 2015 will create a platform for the next stage of domestic and regional socio-economic development across Africa.”
based on these premises, the economic landscape in 2015 should see the emergence of new markets, products, and clients. This is expected to be maintained as large multinationals continue to tap into the African growth story, while others expand into new geographies via enhanced intra-Africa trade. Definitely, the cloud will be a significant driver and enabler of this transformation.
“Cloud, enterprise mobility, big data, and social technologies are new product sets that can offer significant advantages to African organizations looking to leapfrog to advanced technologies in order to address pertinent issues in their markets,” the IDC regional director explained.
He noted that with the blurring of industry boundaries in Africa’s more mature markets, this year “will offer significant opportunities for providers and end-user organizations to address the evolving requirements of markets adjacent to those they are servicing now.”
Nigeria Leads Internet Usage Penetration In Africa
Internet penetration in Africa has been gathering pace over the last half-decade is gathering pace as the continent seeks to close ICT gap with the western world. To further confirm this trend, three African countries have made the world’s top 25 countries by internet users (2013 – 2018), as new data from market research firmeMarketer show that would have 2.89 billion internet users by the end of 2014. This growth is expected to continue over the next five years.
The United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU), also projects that the number of internet users in the world will increase to 3 billion by the end of 2014.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is ranked 10th on the list of world’s top internet users, according to eMarketer; with 57.7 million users at the end of 2014, which is predicted to rise to 84.3 million by 2018. The second African country on the list is Egypt at 17th, whose year is predicted to end with 36 million internet users. South Africa had 20.1 million internet users at the end of 2013, which is predicted to grow to 22.7 million at the end of 2014 and 30.9 million by 2018. This impressive growth has been driven by increasing mobile penetration which has afforded more people access to the internet.
Mobile penetration in Africa has grown more than 80 percent, according to a report by TA Telecoms. Researchers have also predicted that internet use on mobile phones in Africa will increase 20-fold in the next five years.
“Inexpensive mobile phones and mobile broadband connections are driving Internet access and usage in countries where fixed internet has been out of reach for consumers, whether that’s due to lack of infrastructure or affordability,” said Monica Peart, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.
According to her, while growth in developed markets is saturated, there is still room for growth in Africa and other emerging markets.
“The rise of cheap smartphones will allow vast portions of the population – from middle classes in cities to small businesses in rural areas – access to mobile broadband,” said Fredrik Jejdling, sub-Saharan Africa head of Swedish tech company Ericsson in a recent report by the company.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is currently undergoing a mobile digital revolution with consumers, networks and even media companies wakening up the possibilities of 3G and 4G technology,” Jejdling added. Mobile subscriptions are growing fast in sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana leading the subregion. The report predicts this will rise to about 930 million by late 2019, with three in four mobile subscriptions at the time to be internet inclusive.
Head of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, a technology research and strategy organisation in Johannesburg noted that demand for devices have increased in recent times. He added that lower specification feature phones that can access the internet are available for less than $20. He said smartphones will drop below $40 in the next few years.
Alcatel Deploys Africa’s First 400G Ultra-Broadband Network
Alcatel-Lucent and Ooredoo Algeria, a subsidiary of Ooredoo group, have built a high-capacity optical transport network to connect Algeria’s main cities of Algiers, Constantine and Oran. The high-speed ultra-broadband will also cut across smaller cities.
This capacity switch is to address the booming demand for high-bandwidth mobile data services such as high-definition video streaming, next-generation mobile broadband applications and cloud services. It will provide improved services to residential and business customers on their smartphones, tablets and other connected devices.
“Thanks to 400G and the efficiency of OTN sub-wavelength grooming, Ooredoo Algeria’s new network will support the booming explosion of data traffic generated by the proliferation of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets and do so in the most economical way,” said Pierre Chaume, Vice-President, Alcatel-Lucent Middle East & North Africa.
The Agile Optical Network which is Africa’s first Alcatel-Lucent 400G, will be fully operational before the end of 2014. Network capacity and performance will take advantage of unique Bell Labs silicon innovations to support data speeds of 400 gigabits-per-second on each of the 88 wavelengths.
Chaume expressed Alcatel’s pride at the partnership with Ooredoo. He assured that Alcatel will work towards enabling Ooredoo Algeria to be the first service provider to deploy high quality service solution in Africa.
Fibre for Home Brings 'Unrivalled' Net Speeds to South Africa
TELKOM, the communications services provider, has announced the commercial availability of its 20Mbps, 40Mbps and 100Mbps Fibre to the Home (FTTH) offers in selected areas in three provinces.
These are Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape where homes in Groenkloof, Houghton, Eldoraigne, Parktown and Westcliff (Gauteng), Chelmsfordville, Dawncrest, Winston Park (Kwa-Zulu Natal), Clairmont, Bishops Court and Plattekloof ( Western Cape) can now have access to superfast broadband over Telkom's fibre network.
"We are excited to deliver the next evolution of super fast broadband connectivity to our customers. Fibre has the potential to transmit information at virtually unlimited speed and capacity allowing for a continuous improvement of our broadband offers," says Telkom Chief Operations Officer, Dr Brian Armstrong.
"The reliability and quality of the fibre connection is unrivalled.
Telkom's Fibre to the Home connectivity uses a pure Ethernet connection, eliminating the requirement for intermediate equipment such as modems. This results in a much more stable and reliable service."
Customers in these areas can opt for Telkom's promotional fibre 24 month offers including a 20Mbps line with 50GB data package for R999 per month; 40Mbps line with 100GB package at R1299 per month and 100MBps line with 200 GB of data for R1 799 per month.
All three packages include a free WiFi router, a 3GB mailbox, email accounts with five aliases and Unlimited Night Surfer data.
"Our value proposition has been designed to meet our customer's growing appetite for media rich online content, allowing them to seamlessly engage with the most bandwidth hungry applications for a truly connected home experience," added rmstrong.
Earlier this year Telkom announced the start of its fibre rollout to over 20 suburbs across South Africa.
The rollout will continue until March 2015.