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'Africa at a tipping point for internet expansion'

By , Journalist
Africa , 03 Jun 2016

'Africa at a tipping point for internet expansion'

Policymakers in Africa must create a level playing field for internet capacity and growth in investment, said a senior African executive with the Internet Society this week.

"Africa sits at a tipping point for Internet expansion and the continent is poised to help drive growth of the global Internet. But to make the opportunities for social and economic gains a reality, it is paramount that the right policies are in place," added Dawit Bekele, Africa regional bureau director for the Internet Society.

A recent report by shows that mobile is the main means of accessing the internet in Africa, with fixed connections accounting for around 10% of internet connections in most countries.

Issues like cyber crime and the resistance to the regulation of Over the Top (OTT) services continue to influence internet penetration numbers - and this is where policy has to come to the fore, says Bekele.

Telecommunications research company, Budde, said the internet penetration rate in Tanzania was around 34%.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said according to its September 2015 monthly internet subscriber statistics, internet user numbers through telecom networks in the country had risen to 97.21 million from the 95.37 million subscriptions recorded a month earlier.

Rising internet penetration rates characterise most countries, with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics saying in 2015 that the internet penetration rate in the country stood at 54.8%.

The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe said the internet penetration rate in Zimbabwe was about 48% by the end of December 2015, largely propped up by mobile gadgets.

The internet has brought so many opportunities for both businesses and ordinary citizens in Africa said analyst Moses Moyo. "There is still some cause of discomfort emanating from internet usage. For example, there is need to curb child pornography and hate speech on the internet and on social media, hence the slow pace in relaxing policy positions by most governments and maintaining a tight grip on regulatory issues."

Mobile companies in several regions have appealed to regulators to address concerns and help create a more balanced environment which would attract greater investment in the telecommunications sector.

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