A whole new world for the WWW in Africa


As internet users across the globe celebrate 25 years of its existence this week, millions of Africans are still expected to go live across the continent.

“It’s been 25 years [since the global introduction of the internet] and perhaps 10 years since we had initial usage and access in Africa through some sub marine cables but really only three years on the west coast and four years on the east coast since we’ve had new entrance,” Funke Opeke, CEO of Mainone cable told CNBC Africa.

Africa saw an exceptional number of submarine cables go live in 2010 for the first time and has continued to see the rise of cable connectivity throughout the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa currently accounts for 0.2 per cent of the global international bandwidth.


“In terms of the progress we’ve seen…, [there are] new business models that are online-based, you have e-commerce sites, the travel sites, you have job sites and retail,” she explained.

With the rising urbanisation and increasing middle class in Nigeria, e-commerce in the country is growing rapidly and the online business space in Africa is the fastest growing in the world. This sector is currently growing at 25.8 per cent compared to the rest of the world, which is growing at 16.8 per cent.

“Brick and mortar retail stores are starting to create a significant presence online. If you look at online banking, you can open an account via Facebook. Those are some of the developments that we are seeing in this market,” she said.

According to Opeke, with the current percentage of people in Nigeria accessing the internet through mobile phones sitting at close to 40 per cent, there is a lot more potential for the web in the future. Nonetheless, Africa remains the most expensive continent when compared with other continents in terms of internet usage.

“The costs on the wholesale side have come down, [however] there is still bottlenecks in the retail distribution networks to move high speed broadband data capacity to the end users,” she added.