Lewes, DE -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/20/2014 -- A number of new international submarine cable links connecting nations on Africa's east and west coast have considerably improved internet access to the continent. Terrestrial links have enabled land-locked countries to benefit from this connectivity by dramatically reducing the cost of services for telcos and customers alike. The new WASACE cable, linking Brazil and other South American landing points, connects directly with Angola, with branch lines to Nigeria and South Africa.
In addition to these developments, there continue to be improvements to the Central African Backbone (CAB), a $215 million program funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank to build fibre-optic infrastructure serving 11 countries in the Central African region.
Additional international bandwidth has prompted telcos to invest in local backbone infrastructure upgrades to extend networks to population centres. Countries which had previously relied on satellite connectivity have seen wholesale access prices tumble by as much as 90% in recent years.
There have also been significant investments in building local Internet Exchange Points to reduce dependence on international connectivity for local internet services, so lowering the cost of developing local hosting and application development. A number of new IXPs, including that in Namibia (opened in May 2014) have been supported by the African Internet Exchange System, an African Union project implemented by the Internet Society. This wide-ranging program aims to have 80% of African users' internet traffic exchanged within Africa by 2020.
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Despite these encouraging developments, most investment at the local level is handicapped by the poor condition of fixed-line infrastructure in many parts of various countries, particularly in rural areas which also suffer from no or intermittent electricity supply. As a result, many of the local improvements in internet access seen in recent years have been confined to the principal cities. Nevertheless, in adapting to these restrictions telcos serving rural areas have elected to invest in mobile infrastructure to provide voice and 3G-based data services.
There is limited Fibre-to-the-Premise (FttP) infrastructure, mainly serving select areas of some cities, though the sector continues to develop.
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