Two out of three African business leaders worry infrastructure problems are holding back traditional telecommunications companies.
This is according to new research by blockchain-based MNO World Mobile, which underlines the notion that greater innovation from telecommunications and technology companies is vital to drive the expansion of internet connectivity in Africa.
World Mobile’s study is based on engagement with African business leaders from companies with combined annual revenues of more than US$6.75-billion, from Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa,
It found nearly two out of three (65%) worry that a lack of infrastructure is stopping traditional telecom companies from delivering the internet connectivity the continent needs.
But they are optimistic that innovation from new entrants will achieve dramatic improvements.
Nearly three-quarters (71%) say new approaches are expanding internet connectivity to hard-to-reach areas more affordably.
According to the study, executives believe the expansion of the African middle class coupled with government support is driving demand for innovation.
Two-thirds (66%) believe connectivity will improve over the next five years with a quarter (24%) expecting dramatic improvements. African business leaders believe the biggest benefits of expanding connectivity will be growing internal trade on the continent which was highlighted by 78%. Around 75% pointed to growth in international trade, while 55% however say better education and healthcare.
Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile said: “There is growing confidence that Africa is on the verge of a revolution in internet connectivity with innovators such as World Mobile responding to the huge growth opportunities across the continent and Government support.
“However, the research with business leaders detects some scepticism with more than a quarter of senior executives saying they expect no change in connectivity over the next five years and pointing to potential roadblocks such as bureaucracy and a lack of innovation.”
“Improving internet connectivity is vital to delivering the potential of Africa, which is not just good for global economic growth but also for improving living standards across the continent and we are focused on playing our part in supporting innovation.”
World Mobile said it is working with the government in Zanzibar where it is launching a unique hybrid mobile network delivering connectivity supported by low altitude platform balloons.
“The blockchain-based network vastly reduces capital expenditure and cuts prices compared to traditional telecom operators and World Mobile is in discussions to expand in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories under-serviced by traditional mobile operators,” reads a statement released by the company.
The company’s balloons will be the first to officially launch in Africa for commercial use, offering a more cost-effective way to provide digital connection to people and is the first step in its mission to help bring nearly four billion people online before 2030 in line with the UN and World Bank’s SDGs.
The World Mobile approach is more sustainable, in environmental, social and governance terms. Environmental impacts are mitigated using solar-powered nodes, second-life batteries, and energy-efficient technology. World Mobile creates a positive societal impact through the application of its circular economy model – a “sharing economy” where locals share in the ownership and rewards of the network.
* Independent research company PureProfile interviewed 100 senior executives at companies based in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania during April 2022 using an online methodology. The average revenue of businesses surveyed was US$70-million.