Africa poised to take advantage of Internet Connectivity Innovations
Greater innovation from telecoms and technology companies is vital to drive the expansion of internet connectivity in Africa, according to new research for blockchain-based mobile network operator World Mobile.
The study with African business leaders found 65% worry that a lack of infrastructure is stopping traditional telecom companies from delivering the internet connectivity the continent needs.
But they are optimistic that innovation from new entrants will achieve dramatic improvements. Nearly 71% say new approaches are expanding internet connectivity to hard-to-reach areas more affordably.
The study with African business leaders from companies with combined annual revenues of more than $6.75 billion found that executives believe the expansion of the African middle class coupled with Government support is driving demand for innovation.
66% believe connectivity will improve over the next five years with a 24% expecting dramatic improvements, the research among senior executives at companies based in Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa shows.
African business leaders believe the biggest benefits of expanding connectivity will be growing internal trade on the continent which was highlighted by 78%. Around 75% pointed to growth in international trade, while 55% however say better education and healthcare.
Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile said: “There is growing confidence that Africa is on the verge of a revolution in internet connectivity with innovators such as World Mobile responding to the huge growth opportunities across the continent and Government support.
“However, the research with business leaders detects some scepticism with more than a quarter of senior executives saying they expect no change in connectivity over the next five years and pointing to potential roadblocks such as bureaucracy and a lack of innovation.”
“Improving internet connectivity is vital to delivering the potential of Africa, which is not just good for global economic growth but also for improving living standards across the continent and we are focused on playing our part in supporting innovation.”
World Mobile is helping to revolutionise internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa and is already working with the government in Zanzibar where it is launching a unique hybrid mobile network delivering connectivity supported by low altitude platform balloons.
The blockchain-based network vastly reduces capital expenditure and cuts prices compared to traditional telecom operators and World Mobile is in discussions to expand in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserviced by traditional mobile operators.
Its balloons will be the first to officially launch in Africa for commercial use, offering a more cost-effective way to provide digital connection to people and is the first step in its mission to help bring nearly four billion people online before 2030 in line with the UN and World Bank’s SDGs.
The World Mobile approach is more sustainable, in environmental, social and governance terms. Environmental impacts are mitigated using solar-powered nodes, second-life batteries, and energy-efficient technology. World Mobile creates a positive societal impact through the application of its circular economy model – a “sharing economy” where locals share in the ownership and rewards of the network.