Africa is typically the last to catch up on most technological innovations and the internet is no different. Internet penetration in Africa has been very slow across the continent but that seems to be changing this year. For the first time ever, According to the International Telecommunication Union more than half of the world’s population will be connected to the internet by the end of this year, which translates to 3.9 billion people (~51% of the world). Much of that progress was seen in Africa, which recorded the highest growth globally in just over a decade. From just 2.1% in 2005, those with internet connections grew to over 24% in 2018. The number of households in Africa that have access to a computer also increased to 9.2% in 2018 from 3.6% in 2005.
One of the many issues affecting the rapid growth of internet users in Africa is the affordability of the service. Africa has the most expensive mobile data packages in the world, with prices for one gigabyte going for as much as $35 (N12,600) in some countries. This translates to 5.5% of many users’ monthly income – way more than the 2% of monthly gross income stipulated by the UN Broadband Commission.
Internet speeds remain very slow too, ranking well below the average speeds of above 10 megabits per second which is the minimum needed to allow consumers to fully take part in a digital economy.
The governments are also part of the problem, they are not properly promoting connectivity in rural, remote, and poor urban areas even when they have the finances to do so.