Africa Telecoms Summit to Promote Internet Access
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
A U.N.-backed Africa communications summit in Rwanda next month will seek to boost high-speed Internet access to match the continent’s explosive growth in mobile phones, officials said Wednesday. UNITED NATIONS, Sept 19 (Reuters Life!) – A U.N.-backed Africa communications summit in Rwanda next month will seek to boost high-speed Internet access to match the continent’s explosive growth in mobile phones, officials said Wednesday.
The Oct. 29-30 “Connect Africa” gathering of African political leaders and international investors in the Rwandan capital Kigali will be a networking opportunity, not a forum for negotiating new regulations, they said.
But government leaders will come under pressure to do away with inefficient state monopolies in telecommunications, Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, told a news conference.
In Africa, mobile phones overtook fixed lines six years ago and now outnumber them nearly five to one, with 137.2 million subscribers in 2005, the ITU says. In sub-Saharan Africa, nine out of every 10 telephone subscribers are using a mobile.
But the shortage of fixed lines has limited Internet access, enjoyed by fewer than four out of every 100 Africans. According to ITU figures, Africa’s average monthly price for broadband is $762 per month, more than three times the cost in Asia and way out of reach of most Africans.
“We have had some countries with … up to 400 percent growth in mobile telephony,” Toure said.
“How do we replicate that success in broadband that will lead us to Internet access in every country, in every village, every school, every university, every hospital? …That is our goal,” he added.
“The heads of state will have to make key decisions in the regulatory environment in order to approach the market, in order to attract the business leaders, and the business leaders will be able to do some real partnerships in the continent.”
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