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AFRO-NETS> The State of the Internet in Africa

  • Subject: AFRO-NETS> The State of the Internet in Africa
  • From: Dieter Neuvians MD <neuvians@harare.iafrica.com>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2000 05:18:33 -0500 (EST)

The State of the Internet in Africa

US Internet Council

It may sound like stating the obvious, but poverty is still the
greatest barrier to Internet growth in Africa, according to the US
Internet Council in its State of the Internet Report 2000.

"The monthly connection cost for the Internet in Africa exceeds the
monthly income of a significant portion of the population. Until
costs decrease, most of Africa will remain unconnected," the report

"Other problems stifling the Internet in Africa are low computer
penetration, illiteracy, lack of trained personnel, disinterest and a
failure to understand the benefits of Internet access," the report

Africa's online population is estimated at between 1.15 million and
2.58 million, depending on whether you opt for the pessimistic or op-
timistic survey results. Either way, the growth trend lags far behind
that of other regions. South Africa is the only country on the conti-
nent with a significant number of Internet users -- 1.05 million. The
State of the Internet Report 2000 lists the next country on the con-
nected list as Egypt, with 50 000 users, followed by Morocco with 20
000 and Kenya with 15 000 users.

Congo, according to the report, is the only country that is not di-
rectly connected to the Internet, following the recent linkup of Eri-
trea (March 2000) and Somalia (September 1999). But doesn't mean
there is widespread connectivity -- only eight countries have nation-
wide dial-up access while 42 countries have public access in the
capital cities, the report states.

"Only a handful of African businesses are online, for purchasing or
selling. The vast majority of African commercial sites are for infor-
mational purposes only. The exception, boasting a competitive e-
commerce industry that is nearly as advanced as the West, but, much
smaller in scale."

The report goes on to say that last year there were 10 703 African
host Web-sites and that most of these are very basic. Again, South
Africa is the exception, its Web-sites being "the most diverse, tech-
nologically advanced and up-to-date".

The State of the Internet Report 2000 attributes the slow Internet
penetration in Africa to poor telecommunications infrastructure and
low income. "The telecommunications infrastructure is sadly inade-
quate due to under-investment and strong government control, so that
development of dial-up access has been slow. Deregulation and in-
creased telecom investment will boost phone penetration and, as a re-
sult, Internet penetration."

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