China’s surge online made news recently when China overtook the USA in terms of internet users. Africa’s surge online has not made so much news, but has been fast nevertheless.
Africa has been left behind in the internet race because of poor infrastructure. To see why just look at the picture below – Africa looks dark because large parts of the continent do not have a reliable electricity supply. This makes internet use difficult and expensive. And that’s before you even start talking about broadband internet infrastructure.
Image from NightSkyNation
Keeping this in mind it is very good news that Africa’s internet penetration grew over 1000% between 2000 and 2008, according to the latest figures.
Page F30 points out that it’s not very helpful to lump Africa together as this report does. Africa has more than 50 different countries and internet usage differs considerably between them. Most of West Africa has fast internet connections but East African countries still rely on dial up and satellites for internet access.
Things should keep improving for the less developed areas though – planned work on undersea cables and national networks in several countries will make internet connections a lot cheaper in future.
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About the authorLucy