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Cheaper devices could spur Internet boom

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By Mark Davison at Mobile 360 Africa, Cape Town – When the price-point for Internet access devices reaches a certain level in Africa, the continent can expect exponential growth in the market similar to the boom some years ago with cell phones.
Sifiso Dabengwa, CEO of MTN Group, has little doubt that once access devices are considered affordable by Africans, their appetite for them – and the services around them – will mirror the dramatic growth spike last seen when new entrants forced universal price cuts in cell phones.
“I think the average price for a [cell phone] device was around $30, but when they dropped to $15 then we saw exponential growth,” Dabengwa says. “I believe there is a similar price-point with Internet access devices and once the retail price for a basic device falls to that level or below, then we’ll see sales accelerate.”
Dabengwa feels that governments could play a crucial role in setting this affordable price-point.
“Devices being imported without duties would be a great start,” he says. “There is a lot that can be done on the consumer side to give people access to devices.”