Africa’s mobile broadband access below 20% says ITU report

broadbandDespite increasing access to cheaper smartphones, Africa’s mobile broadband penetration still remains below 20%, report indicates

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) released its ICT Facts & Figures report, which revealed that the continent is the only region where mobile broadband access is less than 20%.

The ITU’s report examines the global development of ICT over the past 15 years from the year 2000 to 2015.And acco rding to the report Africa’s mobile broadband subscriptions currently stands at 17.4%.  The report notes that mobile-broadband penetration levels are highest in Europe and the Americas, at around 78 active subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.

A report by the Pew Research Center released earlier this year revealed that smartphones (those that can access the internet and applications) are less widely used in Africa. Significant minorities own these devices in several nations, including 34% of South Africans, the report stated.

According to GSMA predictions smartphones will constitute 20% of the African market by 2017. Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, explained that globally 3.2 billion people are using the internet of which 2 billion are from developing countries.

“ICTs will play an even more significant role in the post 2015 development agenda and in achieving future sustainable development goals as the world moves faster and faster towards a digital society,” he stated.

The ITU’s report does not reveal the reasons for low mobile broadband access in Africa.

However, last year the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) said in Zambia, for example, citizens who live on less than $2 a day have to fork out 35% of their monthly incomes if they want mobile broadband.

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