Smart Africa’s Initiatives Towards Making Broadband Affordable in Africa

Mr. Lacina Koné, Director General of Smart Africa, has been a member of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development since 2019. Smart Africa is a bold and innovative commitment from African Heads of States and Government to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development on the continent, ushering Africa into a knowledge economy through affordable access to Broadband and usage of Information and Communications Technologies.

As of May 2022, The Smart Africa Alliance membership included 32 Member States, International partner organizations including the Africa Union Commission (AUC) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) among others, as well as International Private Sector Members. The Smart Africa Secretariat (SAS) is based in Kigali, Rwanda.

The below are Smart Africa initiatives towards making broadband affordable in Africa:

1

SMART Broadband 2025 Strategy Document:

The first edition of the SMART Broadband 2025 Strategy Blueprint document serves as a common reference blueprint for Smart Africa member states for the revision and development of their respective countries’ Broadband strategies. It also has some carefully selected strategic indicated broadband projects that shall be implemented at the both the national and continental level to make broadband accessible and affordable in Africa.

2

Smart Africa Continental Backbone Project:

The objective of this initiative is interconnecting all African countries within the continent. A connected Africa will make voice, SMS, internet and broadband accessible and affordable. Therefore, traffic generated and destined for Africa will stay within the boundaries of the continent. This will reduce the cost of connectivity among African countries and thereby reduce the scenarios whereby digital traffic that is generated in Africa and destine for Africa finds its way outside Africa hence increasing the cost of connectivity which leads to high cost of broadband in Africa.

3

Bulk Capacity Market:

The objective is to make broadband affordable for the Smart Africa member states. This is by working to secure an agreement with international broadband providers for long-term bulk purchase of submarine and Satellite bandwidth capacity.  It is estimated that a Combined savings of up to 50% for subsea cables access countries to over 100% for landlocked countries. With this, the cost broadband at both the wholesale and retail level shall be reduced considerably.

4

Upgrade and Deployment of Green Multi-Tenant Carrier-Neutral Data Centres across Africa for the hosting of digital content as well as the provision of Cloud Computing services:

The provision of connectivity without the corresponding data centres within Africa will means that a greater percentage of Africa traffic will continue to be directed towards Europe and other parts of the world. Hence, high payment for long-haul connectivity to access digital content. This initiative is therefore to increase the deployment and use of Green Multi-Tenant Carrier-Neutral Data Centres across Africa for the hosting of digital content.  Thereby reducing the cost of connecting to and accessing digital content in Africa. Hence contribute towards the reduction of broadband services in Africa.

5

Inclusive Adoption of Smart Devices in Africa:

Smart devices are becoming a necessary and indeed a central part of individual quality of life, of business activity and of the socio-economic development of a society. This initiative is aimed at influencing policy to improve access and affordability of Smart Devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops & portable PCs) in Africa, thereby support in reducing the broadband adoption gap in Africa.

For more information, go to www.smartafrica.org.

Contributed by

Mr. Lacina Koné

Director General of Smart Africa
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