The Broadband Commission launched a report entitled ‘Connecting Africa to Broadband: A strategy for doubling connectivity by 2021 and reaching universal access by 2030’ at the World Bank/IMF Annual meeting. The report which was published by the Working Group on Broadband for All estimates that around USD 100 billion will be needed to ‘achieve universal, affordable and good quality’ access to the Internet for 1.1 billion people in Africa by 2030. At short term and in order to double broadband connectivity in Africa by 2021, an additional USD 9.9 billion will be required. Angola followed by Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo will necessitate the most investment for universal Internet access by 2030. According to the report, rural population and remote rural population together account for 54% (650 million) of those who need to be connected which is particularly challenging because of the nature of these remote areas which are usually out of reach of traditional mobile networks.
The report underscores that capacity development, namely, user skills, adequate policy and regulation frameworks, as well as device affordability are some of the measures which are necessary to bridge the existing digital divide. The study highlights that the issue of digital divide cannot be addressed by a single actor alone given its high cost and calls on, amongst others, the African Union, governments, the private sector (national and foreign) and regional economic communities to collaborate.