Africa Internet market doubles

Posted On Tuesday, 24 July 2001 10:34 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Johannesburg - The Internet market in Africa doubled from 2.5m users to 5m last year, while the South African market grew by close on 80%.


Dobek PaterThe market for fixed telephone lines in Africa grew by 26%, while cellular services increased by about 50%, allowing the continent to reach the level of the developed world with the use of modern technology.

These are a few of the findings in the BMI-TechKnowledge Communication Technologies Handbook 2001, a thorough research document into the state of the telecommunications industry in Africa, which was published recently.

BMI-TechKnowledge analyst and researcher Dobek Pater says the South African Internet market grew by 80% from 1.6m to 2.8m last year.

"This growth will now fall back by a few percentage points every year as the market becomes saturated." But the rest of Africa will grow faster. Excluding South Africa, that market grew by 126% last year, and it will grow increasingly faster as it is from a very low base.

About 66% of the Internet-users on the continent are in South Africa.

The rest of the handbook shows that South Africa and the northern Arab countries are in fact the only light points on the continent.

Pater says Telkom with its 5.9m lines and MTN and Vodacom with a combined client tally of about 9m have more fixed-line and cellular customers than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa combined.

All 56 countries in Africa are now at least linked to the Internet. In 1996, the figure was only 11.

It is very surprising that fixed-line networks continue to show real growth. The study shows that the number of fixed-line telephones grew from 18.6m in 1999 to 23m last year. Most of this growth occurred in Arab countries in North Africa, such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

Fixed-line networks in Western Europe only grow by about 2%, while networks in Eastern Europe, which are more comparable with Africa, grow by 10% to 15% a year.

The use of cellular technology is still spreading like wildfire. The number of cellphone-users grew by 50% from 10.8m to 16.2m last year, of which the greater majority make use of prepaid services.

Pater says there is a definite shift in the political and regulatory environment in Africa, making future growth very promising. "Several countries are selling between 20% and 40% of State-controlled telecommunications monopolies through privatisation, while more and more independent telecommunications regulatory authorities are being appointed.

"Increased competition will stimulate growth and service provision, while it will also lower the cost of communications."

Pater also referred to the two submarine optical fibre projects, Africa One and SAT3, as infrastructure which can drastically cut communications costs on the continent. According to him, the continent will be able to save as much as $300m a year from next year, because calls between neighbouring states no longer have to be routed via Europe or America and interconnection costs will therefore fall significantly.

24/07/2001 08:34  - (SA)

Last modified on Thursday, 17 April 2014 09:39

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