At the event, South Africa’s deputy minister of communication and digital tech, Philly Mapulane, called improved connectivity a major priority: “As a country rising from the painful past of exclusion, we remain careful in ensuring that the digital divide is narrowed.” Less than 5% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa access the web via fixed lines (Investment Monitor, 2022). Companies like Kenya’s Liquid Intelligence Technologies are combatting this issue in the private sector by offering businesses stable connections via cable-based internet and cloud services.
Meanwhile, for the average African user, faster 4G networks are replacing 3G connectivity. By 2025, the former will account for a third (33%) of mobile connections in sub-Saharan Africa (GSMA, 2021). This has put network affordability in the spotlight: in half of the region’s countries, 1.5% of the average income will only provide up to 100MB of mobile data, leading to rationed use (World Economic Forum, 2021).
Closing the digital gap extends to education as well. Giga, an international initiative by Unicef, is on track to meet its goal of providing internet access to every school in the world by 2030. With Swedish telecom giant Ericsson’s help, Giga’s Project Connect has mapped 2.1 million institutions globally, including many in Africa.
And while small and medium enterprises provide 80% of jobs across the continent, tech start-ups are faced with tough entry barriers due to a lack of digital resources – particularly those relating to finance. In response, Ugandan company Beyonic offers hyperlocal app-based banking services for small businesses, setting a precedent for similar ventures.
See Five Start-Ups Driving Africa’s Insurance Industry for more on the region’s financial sector.