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Broadband connections in urban areas of developing countries

Broadband connectivity in Africa

While there are many mobile providers in developing worlds, there is virtually no broadband infrastructure existent within and outside of cities. Looking at Africa, over 99% of people do not have broadband internet connection or even proper TV signal. Comparing this to the world average where broadband market penetration is about 15.7%, or the 40% in developed countries, we can clearly see that those cities are severely underserved.

The reason for lack of infrastructure is the fact, that it is almost impossible to build it. The population density in cities is too high and options of closing roads for digging trenches for cables are practically nonexistent. And even if it would be possible to put the cables underground, keeping them there is another story.

It is almost impossible to build traditional broadband infrastructure in Africa!

Combined with extremely high capital requirements for building such infrastructure, there have not been and will not be any major steps done going forward in this direction.

One could also argue that with mobile networks, broadband might be obsolete, but imagine your home or business without a cable broadband connection to the world. Now add weak coverage, reduced speed, instability, and low-end mobile hardware to it. Broadband internet is not going away any time soon. It is therefore important that we do not succumb to the challenges and strive in building out quality broadband infrastructure where it is needed.

Broadband subscriptions per 100 people, 1998 to 2019

Broadband connectivity in Africa Figure 1 Broadband subscriptions per 100 people, 1998 to 2019

Broadband subscriptions refer to fixed subscriptions to high-speed access to the public Internet (a TCP/IP connection), at downstream speeds equal to, or greater than 256 kbit/s.