In 2017, the world will mark a significant milestone: 50% global internet penetration. Though internet access has become a daily expectation for many, its hardly available.
Today, over four billion people — some 56% of the world — are still not using the Internet. The majority of this offline population are women. Most live in LDCs and other developing countries. One of the key obstacles countries face in the race to expand access is affordability — the vast majority of those without Internet access today are offline simply because they cannot afford a basic connection.
The arrival of SEACOM marine fibre optic cable on the Kenyan coast in 2009 excited Internet users – who were promised reliable and faster service. The optimism was that country’s connection to the outside world via fibre – a more versatile connection with better quality was to be cost effective. Consumers were assured of the immense benefits that would accrue from the service.
Eight years later, consumers still find themselves disgruntled. They still pay high charges to be connected. This is despite the broadening of the data market that has seen growth of the sector and entry of international Internet service providers
Only five countries in Africa qualify to be termed as having affordable access. They are Sudan, Mauritius, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. In Kenya, 1GB of mobile broadband is said to cost an average of 9.72 per cent of the average monthly incomes – making Kenya’s Internet more expensive than other comparative countries such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Ghana. Countries that were leading in this year’s index including Cambodia, Mexico, Peru and Benin have implemented several reforms that the A4AI recommends to be emulated by other regions.