A Record Number Of Africans Are Now Connected To The Internet

Internet penetration in Africa has usually been slow on the uptake, until things changed this year. According to the International Telecommunication Union, more than half of the world's population will be connected to the internet by the end of this year – for the first time ever – which translates to 3.9 billion people (~51% of the world).

More importantly, the highest uptake in internet connectivity was seen in Africa – our continent has moved from having just 2.1% internet penetration in 2005 to over 24% in 2018. The number of households in Africa that have access to a computer also increased to 9.2% in 2018 from 3.6% in 2005.

(Photo: Atlas/QZ)

The ITU says attaining the 50/50 milestone is both historic and crucial, given the number of people who will not only be connected, but will also be able to attain crucial services online such as education and healthcare. But the issue of internet affordability still remains to be tackled: Africa has the most expensive mobile data packages in the world, with prices for one gigabyte going for as much as $35 (N12,600) in some countries. This translates to 5.5% of many users' monthly income – way more than the 2% of monthly gross income stipulated by the UN Broadband Commission.

With that being said, it's also important to note that internet speed also remains very slow, ranking well below the average speed of 10mbps which is the baseline speed needed to allow consumers to fully take part in a digital economy.

(Photo: Atlas/QZ)

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