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AfriCAN insight

Africa takes centre stage at ITW 2017

The African telecoms market took centre stage at this year’s International Telecoms Week (ITW) during a well-attended key note panel session on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Liquid Telecom’s Group CEO Nic Rudnick was part of a key note panel focused on connecting Africa.

Moderated by MainOne CEO Funke Opeke, the panel also included senior representatives from Facebook, Google, WIOCC and Angola Cables.

The panel session opened with a series of insights into the current growth rates across Africa, questioning whether data was showing signs of slowing down. The panel argued that demand for bandwidth is continuing to grow and there remains a need for more infrastructure across the region.

The panel then focussed on the investment required to deliver greater internet access and higher broadband speeds to more of Africa. The panellists explored the ways African countries could work together to encourage investment in critical but costly telecoms infrastructure, such as data centres.

They also looked at the business case for delivering connectivity to underserved areas, discussing how a range of different technologies – such as FTTH, Fixed LTE and VSAT – can help overcome some of these challenges. “Africa is going to be an innovator in using different access technologies,” summarised Nic.

Regulatory issues were also touched upon - in particular, the potential implications of new data protection laws emerging across the region.

Kenya was highlighted as a success story for the region, where there has been significant fibre roll-out and greater demand for high-speed broadband services from a growing middle class.

Despite the considerable challenges ahead, the panel concluded by looking at the considerable progress that has already been made to improve internet access across Africa.

“Twenty years ago, most Africans did not have access to telephones. Today, countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe have faster internet speeds than you can find in the US or Europe. It is worth reflecting on where the continent will be in the next 20 years,” said Nic.