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Internet revolution is hereBy Johan Keyter 15 September 2010 | Categories: news
In recent months the African continent has seen a huge increase in internet access, both in terms of speed and availability. This is thanks to the slew of new undersea cables that are connecting the continent to the rest of the world piece by piece.
According to the Telecoms Trends in Africa 2010 report, released by World Wide Worx and Database 360, more than 90% of businesses are expecting prices to drop and competition to increase dramatically as fast connections start becoming commonplace.
The survey was conducted among 1100 Internet-using small,medium and large businesses from 20 African countries. It revealed that most African businesses and countries still rely heavily on slow and expensive forms of internet access such as dial-up or satellite connections.
While the continent is still not near first world levels of internet connectivity, the process is accelerating at a tremendous pace. According to Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, ADSL is fast becoming the standard form of business internet access across Africa, with more than 40% of businesses in these 20 countries making use of it.
The limitations of existing infrastructure are one of the key factors holding up progress, as can be seen in expensive satellite connectivity remaining a key components of connectivity in Africa. According to the survey, more than 1 in 5 respondents stated that they were still using satellite connectivity.
Satellite is by far the most expensive means of accessing the internet, but is often the only solution left when the required infrastructure isn't present on the ground.
Countries such as Mauritius, Ivory Coast and Namibia are already showing signs of strong ADSL growth, while Angolan businesses indicated the highest anticipated growth for this form of broadband.
According to Louise Robinson, managing director of Database 360, the level of internet usage shoots up wherever the new undersea cables have landed and fibre optic networks have linked the cables to urban centres. "The East African countries, especially, are taking to social networking as a business tool to a greater extent than almost anywhere else in Africa,' she continued.
The survey highlighted Kenya and Uganda as the biggest African users of social networking in business but landlocked countries such as Botswana and Zambia have also recently started rapidly embracing social networking for business.
The study also focused on the use of internet applications, email and internet usage on cellphones as well as the emergence of cloud computing in Africa.
World Wide Worx and Database 360 will release separate national reports for each country surveyed in the near future.
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