West Africa increases broadband connections

Technology, equipment, tariffs contribute to increased broadband penetration (Image: file photo)

Over the past three years the West African broadband market has witnessed a dramatic increase in broadband connections. This increase is mainly due to the deployment of advanced technologies, affordable customer premises equipment as well as reduced tariffs.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan West African Broadband Market Tracker, covering Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, finds that the market earned revenues of $929.9 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $1.932 billion in 2016.

“Internet service providers (ISPs) still remain the dominant players in the region, except for Nigeria where mobile broadband connections have outpaced fixed broadband connections,” notes Frost & Sullivan ICT Research Analyst Mervin Miemoukanda.

“In comparison to other countries, high investments are made in infrastructure development and broadband services present the highest areas for growth opportunities due to the decline in voice revenues.”

The West African region is characterised by poor telecoms infrastructure. Mobile broadband connections have outpaced fixed broadband connections in many countries in the region. This trend is likely to be observed in key markets like Cameroon and Ivory Coast in the next 5 years.

“The low fixed penetration shows the majority of population can only access broadband services via their handsets,” explains Miemoukanda. “The low levels of broadband penetration in the region indicate that there is room for growth opportunities across the region.”

The key challenge faced by market participants is the high cost of customer premises equipment. Limited availability of bandwidth, paralleled by high costs and the low disposable income of the majority of the population across the region, also pose challenges.

“A number of factors currently hamper the growth of this region including low disposable income,” adds Miemoukanda. “Poor telecoms infrastructure and shortage of bandwidth in most countries in the region also threaten to dampen market prospects.”

Facing challenges and restraints in the broadband market, ISPs and mobile operators are expected to improve the quality of services through continuous infrastructure investment like network capacity upgrade and deployments of new technologies.

“Developing innovative solutions such as cyber cafés that target the mass market and partnering with content providers to offer localised content are some approaches that ISPs and mobile operators can deploy,” concludes Miemoukanda. “These strategies will help drive up the demand for broadband services.”

By Angela Meadon

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