AU applauds ICT growth in Africa

January 30, 2010 • Mobile and Telecoms

THE African Union, which is holding its annual summit in Ethiopia, has expressed confidence in the growth of the information and communications technology in the sector.

The Union’s communication and information division said its projections were buoyed by latest data revealed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

“African telephony network is characterized by quickly increasing mobile telephony penetration, making the digital cell phone as the mass ICT technology of choice for Africa.

“African growth rates for mobile phones are highest in the world, leaping from 138 million in 2005 to 370 in 2008.

“The total cost of owning a mobile phone (TCO) is a good indicator revealing how the affordability of mobile telephony has developed components of TCO which are the handset price, service fee, and taxes,”
the division said in a statement in Addis Ababa at the ongoing summit.

“Regarding the rapid proliferation of the mobile telephony, second generation Global System for Mobile (GSM) networks have been at the centre of the investment strategy of operators in Africa. These make up to 96% of all mobile cellular subscriptions in Africa.

“Whereas the fixed line telephony penetration has never actually reached internationally comparative levels, new users and networks are in rule all mobile.

According to the latest International Telecommunications Union (ITU) data, there is 43,5 mobile phones for every fixed line telephone in Africa and the trend is ascendant.

The penetration rate for mobile phones has increased from 15,6 per hundred inhabitants to 39, respectively. Africa ranks behind other major regions in mobile telephone penetration.”

The division said there are extensive backbone network coverage in sub-Saharan Africa, with about 508,000 kilometers of terrestrial backbone infrastructure (microwave and fibrotic cables) serving around three quarters of communications users.

About a third of the terrestrial backbone in sub-Saharan Africa is owned by fixed operators.

The other two-thirds of terrestrial backbone infrastructure and almost all satellite-based backbone infrastructures are owned by mobile operators.

“In terms of contributing to the integration of Africa, mobile telephone networks and operators are critical in providing physical, reliable and affordable communication that connects the continent.

“Pan-African mobile operators are promoting free roaming services across countries, making Africa the first region in the world to offer this innovative service.

Most backbone infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa is low-capacity wireless networks. Only 12% of terrestrial infrastructure in the region is fiber-optic cable; the rest is microwave, some 99% of the length of backbone networks is made up of microwave technology; just 1 percent is fibre,” it added.

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