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Turning up the dial: Embracing high-bandwidth connectivity in Kenya

By , SEACOM Business Sales Lead for SEACOM East Africa.
22 Jun 2023
Patrick Ndegwa, SEACOM Business Sales Lead, SEACOM East Africa.
Patrick Ndegwa, SEACOM Business Sales Lead, SEACOM East Africa.

In the 1990s, stories of 45 megabyte-per-second Internet connections were something to be in awe of. It’s safe to say that network bandwidth has come a long way since then. Today, the ability to transfer large amounts of data is a critical part of Africa’s digital transformation.

According to consulting firm TeleGeography, Africa’s Internet bandwidth experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44% between 2018 and 2022. This puts the continent in first place when it comes to international growth estimates, with total bandwidth worldwide now standing at 997 terabytes per second. Ground-level efforts to expand connectivity also demonstrate a continental commitment to providing Internet access among African citizens and enterprises. In Kenya, the government aims to lay 100 00 kilometres of fibre optic cables across the country with the help of the private sector, all in the name of a national agenda and expanding access to all.

With connectivity on everyone’s mind, it’s worth considering the question of capacity. Why should Kenyan enterprises care about high-bandwidth Internet? The answer lies in understanding its potential, and exploring how your business should best approach it.

A finite resource

Importantly, network bandwidth is, by implementation, a finite resource. Physical limitations of deployed infrastructure and hardware mean enterprises can only go so far in terms of traffic and the resources they have at their disposal. Like how consumers use more data than ever daily, be it streaming movies or uploading data to cloud storage platforms, so are businesses.

On the whole, Africa is responding to growing bandwidth with multiple undersea cable projects and providers such as Peace Cable and Africa-1. Just this year, Google successfully launched its $1 billion Equiano cable, with telecommunications companies already offering services via this new connection between Africa and Europe.

Ready to lift off

As important as transfer speeds are when it comes to quality Internet access, bigger network bandwidth allows users to download and upload data in shorter periods. More bandwidth also ensures smooth performance when users are running multiple applications and workflows at the same time, as well as multiple users as part of a workforce. Enterprises cannot afford to lose productivity because their workforce is unable to connect and enjoy equitable connectivity.

Higher network bandwidth also enables cloud computing, one of the leading IT trends in Kenya today. Flexibility and speed are critical when it comes to an enterprise’s cloud strategy. Thanks to high network bandwidth combined with low latency, they can enjoy access to cloud storage and workflows without experiencing delays or capacity restraints. As public, private, and hybrid cloud platforms become a normal part of every modern business, the need for and benefits of high bandwidth will become more and more apparent.

Given the rate of digital transformation and the emergence of a local digital economy, Kenyan organisations are incentivised to invest in high-bandwidth cloud and IT solutions, especially when there is an oversupply of capacity. According to a report by the Communications Authority of Kenya, between 1 January and 31 March 2022, two-thirds of the country’s Internet bandwidth capacity went unused. However, with the right solutions and infrastructure, organisations can capitalise on this supply in a big way.

Dialling up and doubling down

As service providers are constantly working to increase their capacity and make upgrades to their IP networks, adding more customers and reconfiguring traffic flows without disruption, customers must always remain cognisant of the capacity they need and what they want to achieve with their Internet connection.

Scalability is something to consider. Having a flexible network empowers enterprises to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their operations and data volumes. Flexibility allows you to minimise service disruptions due to overload, as well as downsize and cut network and infrastructure costs when required. To achieve this, enterprises should consider uncapped and unshaped Internet access, made possible by wired fibre connectivity.

Enterprises can turn to their Internet and managed services providers (MSPs) to help them make the best decisions when it comes to bandwidth and overall connectivity. They do not have to travel this road alone as part of an ecosystem of connected and empowered businesses. And, with greater data transfer capabilities, they can travel the road longer and faster than ever before.

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