Internet Usage in Africa

There are many people who believe that one of the biggest chances that Africa has to develop and vastly improve the standard of living there is the internet.  There is no doubt that throughout the world there is a huge correlation between successful developed countries and internet usage in those countries.  Of course you could argue that it is merely representative of previous success which enables the infrastructure to be developed and implemented.  However I believe that is far too simplistic.

The internet is more than a way to keep up with your friends or waste a few hours browsing around.  The internet is the most powerful, market place for skills, goods and services that there has ever been.  There is simply no sort of physical business that can’t benefit from some sort of internet presence and literally millions of businesses that simply exist online with no physical location. For Africa this is important, one of the biggest obstacles faced by the African entrepreneur is the lack of seed or investment funding to start a business.  African banks have simply not provided this service in the past although thankfully it is changing.   However an internet business can be started for virtually nothing, time and effort goes a long way online and it’s a great way for an entrepreneur to start and make a worthwhile living.

It can be used to promote or develop a localised business or with a little investment in things like proxies or VPNs as illustrated here, you can reach markets globally.  However if you look at some of the statistics representing internet usage in Africa you can see a worrying trend developing.  Have a look at some of the stats on this site – Africa Internet Usage, you can see that internet penetration is dominated by the traditional economic successes in Africa.  Countries like Egypt and South Africa have a very high proportion of internet users, also Kenya has invested heavily in an usable infrastructure.  However the largest by far is that of Nigeria where at least a proportion of the massive oil revenues has been utilised to improve internet availability.   These countries alone have well over 50% of the internet users in Africa, but places like the Congo or Ethiopia have a depressingly small amount of internet users.

Of course the internet is going to solve all these countries problems but falling behind in yet another economic advantage isn’t going to help them either.

Further Reading