Today’s indicator figure is 9.135
9.135 of what?
This is the average fixed broadband speed for internet services in the EAC, derived from data available from 2017. Mbps is a measurement of internet speed, spelled out to be Megabits Per Second and is the industry standard to measure internet download speeds. Fixed broadband, in contrast to mobile networks, is a way of accessing the internet with greater reliability, speed, capacity and generally less data limits or caps.
Which EAC countries have high fixed broadband capabilities?
Kenya and Tanzania have average fixed broadband speeds of 15.53 Mbps and 11.19 Mbps respectively as of June 2018. These speeds are higher than Nigeria’s and Ethiopia’s measured speeds of 9.87 and 9.03. The EAC and especially Kenya has been enacting policies that allow for greater internet access and the timely construction of the needed infrastructure to expand access.
How does EAC broadband services compare with other regions?
Broadband in other regions outside the EAC tends to be stronger. Internet use in the EAC was heavily incorporated into mobile use from the very beginning. As a result, the mobile internet networks in the EAC are far more well-developed than the fixed broadband networks. This path of growth was common for other African regions and other developing nations.
Why should EAC countries expand their broadband capabilities?
In this digital global world, strong broadband networks are essential for the growth of many critical industries, including the technology and related services industries. Nigeria in particular is experiencing this constraint on growth dramatically. The booming tech scene (valued at $2 billion) in Lagos cites slow broadband speed as one of the major obstacles to industry growth.
Strategic economic development and growth planning would implement a plan to expand the capabilities of broadband service, so when critical industries grow, infrastructure needs like these will not damper any growth. Mobile networks have gained the first mover advantage for individual customers, but large organizations and industries have needs that only broadband networks can address.
Are EAC countries planning expand broadband services?
Yes, Kenya already has a large policy platform that supports the growth of both mobile and fixed broadband networks. Tanzania has seen dramatic growth since 2009 when internet capabilities grew beyond satellite-only options with the SEACOM and Eastern African Submarine Cable System. Broadband has a small fraction of users compared to mobile users in Tanzania. Rwanda, in pursuit of its goals for making the internet more accessible is strengthening broadband, mobile and satellite networks.
What is the projected impacts growth in broadband capabilities?
As broadband networks grow in the EAC, we expect to see higher growth with tech companies, and various other sectors that can benefit from increased and more reliable access. The vast majority of these companies are in the services sector and offer stable high-paying employment opportunities.
What investment opportunities are growing with this phenomenon?
Faster and more reliable internet means greater integration with the remainder of the world. This has the potential to open up investment opportunities in media, entertainment, content, advertising, as well as other communications and tech-enabled fields. Faster internet broadband allows for greater investment in local data centres, greater use of technology resources across banking and government services, and this demand for electricity increases the need for energy production. Like other forms of infrastructure, faster internet speeds stimulate demand which in turn stimulates growth in several downstream and adjacent business sectors.
How can I learn more?
To learn more about the topics in this article you can visit:
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa – Towards improved access to broadband in Africa – https://www.uneca.org/sites/default/files/PublicationFiles/towards_improved_access_to_broadband_inafrica.pdf
Speedtest Global Internet Speed Ranking – http://www.speedtest.net/global-index
David L. Ross is Managing Director of Statera Capital and serves as a Distinguished Professor of Practice at Carnegie Mellon University-Africa as well as the US Ambassador to the Open University of Tanzania. David is active in growing companies in Eastern and Southern Africa through angel investment, investment advisory, strategic partnerships, and executive education. Connect on LinkedIn at http://tz.linkedin.com/in/davidlross1 or at [email protected]