Additional investment of more than Ksh 10 trillion (USD 100 billion) in internet infrastructure, policies, and ecosystems is necessary to increase digital access in Kenya and Africa. This is the critical consensus reached during the Africa Fibre Forum 2023 hosted by Huawei Technologies in partnership with the Digital Council Africa (DCA) and the World Broadband Association (WBBA).
Set against the backdrop of Africa Com, the continent’s most prominent technology conference in Cape Town today, Samuel Chen, President of Southern Africa Carrier Network Business Group of Huawei, emphasized the immense potential of fibre technology for better digital inclusion.
Addressing about 100 industry leaders and experts from over 50 organizations, Chen explained that public and private sector digitalization and globalization have made the fibre infrastructure industry more important and relevant than ever. He pointed out that Kenya has shown the way for other countries with commitments to invest more than Ksh 45 billion (USD 300 million) in the progressive rollout of fibre optic cable across the country. This, he added, is commendable as available data shows local Internet speeds remain dismal at 195% slower than Europe’s average for mobile and 418% slower for fixed internet.
“Higher investment in fibre is our best bet at turning the situation around since inclusive, high quality, affordable connectivity depends on extensive deployment and use of fibre networks. Furthermore, the right policies and ecosystems are key to facilitating a fibre broadband explosion,”
Chen added that,
“digital infrastructure, particularly the fibre networks, is essential to support the digital economy and harness opportunities offered by emerging technologies and innovations.”
John Omo, the General Secretary of the Africa Telecommunications Union, anchored his remarks by noting,
“To accelerate fibre industry development, we must actively advocate for legislative changes that acknowledge the unique nature of fibre deployment.”
This, he noted, calls for collaborative dialogue to formulate policies that streamline regulatory processes, incentivize private investments, and encourage public-private partnerships that catalyze innovation and operational efficiency.
According to Martin Creaner, Director General of the World Broadband Association (WBBA), the world will add another 243 million fixed connections by 2027, most of them fibre.
“The African continent is in the fast lane of broadband connectivity with a faster rate of growth and greater potential for growth than any other region of the world,”
He noted Creaner. He added that to realize this potential, the industry will need more investors to fund connectivity initiatives while encouraging regulators and governments to step up policies prioritizing fibre infrastructure rollout and sharing.