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Africa

Since the year 2000 Africa has become a major player in today's information age
© iStockPhoto / Internet Society

Highlights


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

  • Today our Internet Society chapter in Togo issued a statement (in French) calling on the government of Togo to restore Internet access. Reports in the media and from our own members there indicate that that the government has shut down Internet access in the wake of protests after their recent election. The president of our ISOC Togo Chapter alerted us today that the shutdown has now even extended to SMS text messages.

    As Dawit Bekele, our Africa Regional Bureau Director, recently wrote, we do not believe Internet shutdowns are the solution for governments in Africa or anywhere in...

    Date published 07 September 2017

  • Abidjan became the third West African city to hold the annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), attracting top African and global players in the Internet ecosystem.

    This year’s forum attracted 227 participants working in IXPs, ISPs, governments, content carriers, network providers, hardware providers, and software service providers among others. The meeting tool, which allows participants to discuss ways to exchange content, had 276 registered users who scheduled 170 meetings. Twenty networks introduced themselves during “Peering Introductions” session, held every...

    Date published 25 August 2017

  • The second day at the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) is dedicated to plenary presentations and discussions between the technical community, private sector, and government representatives.

    The discussions aim to foster understanding of the landscape the various players operate in, the challenges faced, opportunities and ways to create synergies that guarantee increased connectivity, and exchange of content within the region.

    The first session of the day was the formal opening ceremony, with Yves Miezan Ezo, representative of the Conseiller Technique du...

    Date published 24 August 2017

  • The annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) kicked off at the Azalai Hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    The first day is known as “Peering Coordinators Day” where peering managers from various networks, operators, and policy makers meet and deliberate on the various ways to exchange content locally, lower the cost of connectivity, and increase the number of internet users in the region.

    In the course of the three days, participants get a chance to discuss, exchange ideas, and agree to exchange content, known as peering. Most peering agreements are through the...

    Date published 23 August 2017

  • The Internet Society will support thirteen fellows to attend the 8th African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF), scheduled for 22 – 24 August, 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

    The AfPIF fellowship program is designed to offer opportunities for qualified applicants to attend the event. The fellows come from: Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana, Gambia, Mauritius, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Lesotho, and Sudan. The annual event brings together governments, policy makers, technical experts and business...

    Date published 15 August 2017

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