Kathy Gibson reports – Although broadband adoption in Africa is increasing quickly, the continent is still some way off from achieving many of its connectivity goals.

Martin Creaner, director-general of the World Broadband Association, says there is general consensus that broadband adoption brings benefits in terms of wealth and opportunities, driving green economy and social equality.

He was speaking at the Broadband Africa Forum 2023, explaining that this is why broadband is now front and centre of many countries’ economic strategies.

“And we can see these strategies reaping rewards,” he says.

Worldwide, the unconnected population has grown from 40% to 26%. However, 31% of connected population still connect via mobile, so broadband largely remains in the domain of the developed market.

This is borne out by the fact that most of the broadband population is in Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe.

“The market in Africa has the lowest rate of broadband penetration out of the major world regions,” Creaner says.

Among the biggest challenges preventing the adoption of broadband is the cost and complexity of rolling out the networks, and roadblocks in the form of onerous regulations.

“Despite the cost and complexity, however, fibre deployment is on the rise, with 13,6% growth in 2022.”

There has also been growth in subscriptions, fibre connectivity and revenues, an increased demand for digital services and a move to connect rural populations.

“What we need is innovative thinking and collaborative models,” Creaner adds. “We believe that next-generation broadband technologies are more efficient, which will improve affordability.”

The WBBA is also calling on governments to reduce or remove taxes on services and new equipment to further drive down prices and increase connectivity penetration.