The month of October marked 25 years of Internet in Africa, a major milestone and an opportune time to reflect on the development and the spread of the internet in the continent and its socio-economic impact.
October marked the silver jubilee of the arrival of internet in the continent as internet penetration in Africa stood at 39.3 percent as of Q1 2020, significantly lower than the global average of 58.8 percent and trailing the actual average of 62.9 percent posted by the rest of the world, by some distance, according to Internet World Stats. . The internet connected Africa to the rest of the world with notable significant economic growth in the digital economy. However, 25 years after the arrival of the internet, 800M of the over 1.3 Billion occupants of the continent are still not connected to the internet, with mobile users accounting to only 44% of the population.
The Internet World Stats states that Kenya was among the first countries in Africa to be connected to the Internet in 1993 and full Internet access was established in 1995. With over 70% of population connected to the internet, Kenya is one of the African countries that has embraced digital transformation and greatly invested in infrastructure to improve and expand connectivity. Data by the Communication Authority of Kenya for the fourth quarter for the 2019/2020 financial year reveals that total internet subscriptions hit 41 million compared to 39 million that was recorded in the previous quarter. This has been attributed the growth to increased demand for access to information online.
The COVID pandemic has hastened the growth of opportunities for the digital economy as more people continue to work from home and to access services online.
Speaking during a webinar facilitated by the KDA to celebrate 25 years of internet in Africa, Dr. Shem Ochuodho noted that many Africans are yet to be connected to the internet.
One of the outcomes of the Future of Work & The 4th Industrial Revolution Webinar held in the month of October 2020 by the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, exposes the fact that most of Africa and Africans lack access to reliable, affordable, available, high quality Internet, he said, urging African governments to prioritize digital health especially as the world grapples with COVID-19.
Speaking during the same webinar, Esther Koimett Permanent Secretary, Broadcast and Telecommunication said that the investments made by the public and private sector in the telecommunication infrastructure in the last decade is now paying back , especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kenya has become an Internet access success story. Currently, the number of cables that have landed at the Kenyan coast stand at five. The statistics underline Kenyas reputation as one of Africas most wired nations. As at 30th June 2020, total broadband subscriptions in Kenya stood at 22.6 Million, Mrs Koimett said, in a speech read on her behalf by Eng. Daniel Obam, CEO National Communications Secretariat (NCS).
The increased demand in broadband services both mobile and fixed can be attributed to high demand for broadband since most consumers are now working from home and learners continue to attend on-line lessons as occasioned by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.