Report: Rural Connectivity in Africa

Report: Rural Connectivity in Africa: Providing ICT access to rural areas

There is still a significant divide between the adoption of ICT services in urban and rural areas. With ICT able to act as a vehicle for change, the fact this divide still exists threatens to hold back an economic boom that the continent needs.

In major cities across Africa, mobile penetration may be high, but this is not the case in rural areas, where on average two thirds of the continent’s population lives. Expanding into new rural territories, therefore, represents a significant growth opportunity for operators at a time when the urban market is becoming more saturated.

Our exclusive industry survey tells the story of the key challenges facing the industry in reaching to the underserved population in rural Africa. The cost of expanding networks is holding back growth, but so too is of a shortage of power, a lack of awareness for how transforming ICT services can be and in many cases ineffective policy and regulatory management. Universal access policies may have been put in place in many countries, but it is often hard to assess any difference these have made in meeting their aims.

In parts of East Africa, there has been progress. The public and private sectors have often worked together on projects clearly aimed at increasing the adoption of ICT services and raising awareness. Meanwhile, in Kenya, M-Pesa has been a huge boost to enhancing usage of mobile telephony in rural areas. This represents a clear lesson that if a service is directly relevant to a rural customer base, barriers such as total cost of ownership and lack of electricity can be overcome.

The report also monitors applications such as m-agriculture, infrastructure vendor strategies, technology solutions for meeting the needs of remote areas and the ultra low-cost handset market. In addition, our research includes the results of our industry survey and five-year forecasts (total subscriptions and by operator/technology and penetration rates) for the region and countries covered by this research.

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