Availability, affordability of internet access major challenges in Africa
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has identified low availability and the high cost of internet access as major challenges in Africa, according to executive director Sonia Jorge, who said these challenges must be addressed to achieve the initiative’s goal of increasing penetration rates in all African countries and other parts of the world.
“I believe a lot of internet revolution needs to take place in Africa. In Nigeria, the government has set some targets, targets are important and ambitiously set by the government of Nigeria through the National Broadband Plan. A4AI focused on tackling the challenges of affordable internet,” Jorge told HumanIPO.
For Nigeria, she said the next step is to transform the nation’s broadband plan into practice and action. She said provision of infrastructure does not eliminate the challenge of accessibility, which will be crucial to online businesses.
“The potential for African businesses is great but a framework needs to be in place to make any kind of innovation possible,” she said.
She said while each individual African country is unique, there are certain similarities in challenges and strategies.
“Competition has increased tremendously but competition is not enough; it is not enough to open up the market. Other things must be in place to make sure competition is effective and users will benefit from the competition. A lot of operators without affordable prices mean competition is not enough,” Jorge said.
“Public-private partnerships are proving to be successful. When stakeholders work together, they are much more successful and have a higher impact; they are engaging on the developmental side.”
In Nigeria, she said A4AI is identifying a few key challenges it could work on in partnership with the coalition of stakeholders.
“The goal of A4AI in Nigeria is to identify some priority areas that we can focus our efforts on because there are many challenges. If we can identify 2–3 key challenges that the coalition can make impacts, we can channel resources on these and work to address them. A4AI is a platform for dialogue focused on action,” she told HumanIPO.