Africa as a whole in the past few quarters has transformed itself from merely a tourism resort into a hub of internet savvy subscribers due to an increase in mobile operators, investment in fibre optic networks, and ICT projects, reports say.
According to Mushroom Networks, the continent by the year 2012 had more than 167 million Internet subscribers making about 15 per cent of the population. That marked an increase by four percent since 2011. Today, the countries leading in internet penetration growth in Africa include Nigeria with 48.4 million users, followed by Egypt with 29.8 million, then Morocco with 16.5 million users, Kenya with over 12 million and South Africa with 8.5 million users.
Despite reports indicating that only seven per cent of local households in Africa have internet access, a boost in ICT growth and the mobile telephone population is likely to change the scene, overtaking fixed phone-lines making the 650 million mobile phone subscribers outnumber those in Europe and the US. The continent.
While the internet scene is largely dominated by youth and startups, one report indicated that Africa is fond of Social media such as Twitter and Facebook. There are currently 51.5 million Facebook subscribers. And last year alone, a report entitled “How Africa Tweets” stated that more than 11.5 million tweets originated from Africa. it discovered that South Africa had the most Active Twitter population in the continent, with Kenya ranking second.
Internet subscriptions have been on the increase too, in countries like Kenya. According to a CCK Quarterly Sector Statistics Report for the fourth quarter of the 2012/13 financial year of April to June 2013 released this week, the number of internet subscribers in Kenya alone showed an increase from 9.6 million to 12.4 million over the past three months – a 28.4 per cent increase. Moreover, the number of broadband subscriptions grew by 36.9 per cent from the previous quarter to 1.39 million. Compared to the same period last year, the sector showed a 92.5 per cent growth from 726,802 subscriptions.
During the same period, the mobile phone industry in the country the number of subscribers increased by 2.3 per cent from 29.8 million to 30.5 million, attributed to a combination of new subscribers and possible re-subscription by those whose phones had been deactivated during the subscriber registration campaign. Due to ease of access, the pre-paid services have continued to dominate mobile subscription, accounting for 99 per cent of the total mobile subscriptions, said the report
Mobile money transfer subscribers increased from 23.2 million the previous quarter to 24.8 million the quarter under review, recording a 6.8 per cent growth, consistent with the positive subscriber growth patterns. According to the report, while the number of mobile money transfer agents has risen to more than 88,000 from about 74,000 during the previous quarter, a growth of 19.2 per cent.
Like other countries, a report on Kenya internet penetration states that the coming quarter is expected to record similar positive trends as internet uptake increases thanks to the on-going ICT for schools project and increased investment in fibre optic networks across the country.
But Africa still has a long way to go as the number of internet subscribers is still considered low despite a high growth rate.In South Africa for instance, Eleven percent of the population uses the Internet which is still a low figure. Of the eleven per cent Internet users, about 19 per cent access it at work while less than 10 per cent use it at home. Although postal and courier sector has continued to decline in the number of letters sent and received locally and internationally, a small population is able to purchase goods online from overseas using services like PayPal.
Nevertheless, despite slow internet speed rate in Africa the average download speed of 1.6 Mbps in which the slowest speeds in the world are the be found in Zambia, at an average 0.26 Mbps, the growth in broadband subscriptions are expected to continue increasing indicating that customers are not only demanding for internet connections but higher capacity connections.