Internet adoption rates are slowing in many African countries despite the significant improvements being made in internet infrastructure. According to a new study by Internet Society released today at the African Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) happening in Tanzania, content and services are the main factors in making the Internet desirable. These content, the study says is more important when the subject matter is relevant and in a language that users can easily understand.
Lack of content and services the ‘’Promoting Content in Africa’’ report says is also affecting the number of new online users in Africa.
The “Promoting Content in Africa” report reveals that while significant improvements have been made in Internet infrastructure, most notably in mobile networks, Internet adoption rates are slowing in many countries because users lack compelling reasons to connect.
In Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, local language content is key to bringing new users online, as many are not comfortable reading in English or French. Countries studies here, a majority of international and locally developed content was found to be hosted outside the country, typically overseas. This, according to the report results in slow Internet speeds and higher access costs. In Rwanda for example, of all websites using the .RW domain name, only a small fraction are hosted in Rwanda. The majority of sites are hosted in Europe and the U.S.
“Promoting Content in Africa” report outlines the barriers to the development of local content and offers recommendations to improve local content availability and distribution. Hosting content locally , the report says is key to making the Internet faster and more affordable for users.
As mobile financial services are becoming increasingly available in the African continent, monetizing mobile content is still a major challenge. “Faster and better Internet access can help entrepreneurs create new local content including services and apps, but developers face barriers when it comes to payment mechanisms in order to monetize content,” said Bastiaan Quast, Internet Society Fellow and co-author of the report.
The region faces a combination of barriers, including the inability to pay and receive payments for mobile apps, which serve as a major channel for content distribution in most African countries.
“Removing barriers to content availability and distribution will have significant impacts on the Internet ecosystem in Africa. It will help to make existing international content more accessible,” explained Dawit Bekele, Internet Society Regional Bureau Director for Africa. “AfPIF is the only event in Africa focused on building the Internet by building relationships. It plays a key role in bringing together different parties to increase local traffic exchange across the continent,” Bastiaan added.
Detailed results of the report will be presented at the seventh annual AfPIF which begins today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hosted by the Internet Society in partnership with the Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association (TISPA), the event serves as a platform to expand Internet infrastructure and services across Africa by bringing together key players to address the opportunities in interconnection, peering, and traffic exchange on the continent.