"Internet Connectivity In Africa, And The Use Of Vsat Technology"

2112 words - 8 pages

Introduction: The role of telecommunications has long been recognized as a critical component of the basic infrastructure needed to promote and sustain social and economic development. In the last few years, considerable progress has been made by many of the developing nations of Africa in modernizing their telecommunication infrastructures as they have come to realize that their ability to attract and hold industrial investments of developed nations cannot be accomplished with antiquated telecommunication infrastructures. This paper will discuss the status of connectivity in Africa, the role of the ITU and it's policies regarding development in Africa and will look at the possible use of VSAT satellites by developing nations for improving telecommunication infrastructures and providing Internet access.Telephony Services Infrastructure in Africa: On a worldwide basis, Africa still has the least developed telecommunications infrastructure with only 2% of the world's telephones-- and an average teledensity of just over 2 phones per 100 inhabitants. (See Appendix 1 attached). Despite this statistic, in the last few years, the African telecom sector has shown progress towards creating more liberal policies to attract foreign investment and improve its infrastructure and services. For instance, by 1998, a total of 20 countries had established independent regulatory agencies (compared to two in 1990)"¦ and more and more countries continue to follow suit. By 1998, 17 African telecom operators had allowed some degree of privatization and/or foreign ownership. Despite the growing telecommunications market in Africa, disparity in terms of telephone penetration between various sub-regions of the continent remains a concern. Three sub-regions: Central Africa, East Africa and West Africa still have the lowest teledensity in the world.Data Services Infrastructure in Africa: Access to the Internet in Africa has also grown rapidly. It is interesting to note that only five years ago 11 countries had Internet access, however as of November 2000, all 54 countries had achieved some level of connectivity to the Internet. Despite this growth, this access is largely confined to capital cities or urban areas-- although a number of countries have also begun to provide access points in some of the secondary towns and villages.It is difficult to measure the actual number of Internet users in Africa, although the number of ISP subscribers is available. It is estimated that there are now over 1,000,000 Internet subscribers in Africa of which 650,000 are found in South Africa, 200,000 in North Africa and the remaining 150,000 are spread through the remaining 50 African nations. However, this number may be underestimated. According to a study conducted by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the number may actually be much higher. The ECA estimates that each computer with Internet access in Africa supports an average of three users. With that said, that would...

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