Study: lack of internet access stunting the economic growth of Africa

A new study by Internet Society, a leading non-profit organization, has reportedly found that lack of internet access is severely stunting the economic growth of African countries. The group says that African countries need to improve internet access for their citizens to boost their economies, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to reports, through its study, the advocacy group discovered, that while the locally routed internet traffic across Africa has increased, just one in five individuals across the continent have access to the internet.

Factors like, high taxes and frequent government-backed internet shutdowns have further played a major role in discouraging online trade. The group says that Africa’s IXP’s (internet exchange points) have increased to 46 from 19 this month in under eight years. Adding that six nations have more than one.

For the uninitiated, IXP is a place where several networks as well as service providers exchange the internet traffic. The aforementioned increase is of note as ten years ago, most African nations had to route their internet traffic from outside the continent.

Dawit Bekele, Internet Society’s regional vice president for Africa, stated that for Africa, possessing its own IXP’s greatly enhances internet performance for consumers across the continent.

Bekele further added that by developing IXP’s within Africa, the organization has limited the type of unnecessary travel internet traffic had to do outside of Africa to again come back into Africa. This has considerably helped the continent in enhancing user experience, be it through connectivity, or speed, or even the costs.

The Washington-based non-profit group has claimed that its eventual goal is to have approximately 80% of the continent’s internet traffic exchanged locally. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, currently just 20% of the continent’s population has access to Internet.

Over the past years the Internet Society Group has been urging African governments to work on expanding internet infrastructure across rural areas, where a majority of the population lives, so they can benefit from it.

Source credit: https://www.voanews.com/africa/internet-restrictions-hold-back-africas-economic-growth-study-finds