We can create a better connected Africa

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Availability, accountability, and affordability. These three things are eerily the biggest problems we have in Africa.

In our beloved continent, the availability, affordability and accountability are foreign concepts.

See, Africans, especially the elder generation is allergic to accountability. They’re prone to blame everyone but themselves. Looking within is not really a thing and it’s screwing our countries up in many ways than we can count.

Although the internet is available in Africa, it’s rarely available in rural areas and we’re yet to see it being affordable even in the urban areas. And yes, as you’ve probably caught on by now, no one is taking accountability for any of this.

But even with smartphones, we are in a precarious situation where internet access is concerned, and we are lagging behind in comparison to the rest of the world. In terms of data affordability and download speed. Mobile analytics company, Open Signal suggests that we’re only still rolling out 3G connection while the rest of the world is already on 4G.

It also seems there are vast disparities in how the usage of internet is charged in different countries around the continent by the same service providers. This is truly disturbing but not shocking. Unfortunately, for us Africans, we’ve come accustomed to ineffectiveness and being short-changed.

An article by Business Tech shows that 1GB of Vodacom costs $11 in SA, $1.12 in Egypt, $2.77 in Nigeria, $3.32 in Angola. Look at the graph below.

Only a select few can afford to access the internet via laptops and or computers, the majority of Africans access the internet using their mobile phones. But do have a look at the prices of mobile internet in Africa below.

In SA, this is 21 million out of 29 million smartphone users in SA, according to numerous reports.

There’s been an implementation of Wi-Fi hotspots, in hotels, airports, restaurants, shopping centres etc. Though this had potential in alleviating data connection concerns, it comes with a lot of negatives. The information on how to access these hotspots is hard to access and understand. It’s a painful exercise to navigate. I, myself have given up numerous times on trying to access it.

I was recently frustrated with Telkom, 20Gigs of Wi-Fi- data just finishes within 5 days. Knowing very well how my usage is limited, from just responding to emails and opening up a couple of sites for research. No downloads. What’s the excuse? Updates that run all night. Mind you there’s a 20Gig that is meant to be a reward running at night, but these updates never seemed to tap on that data only the day data.

If it’s not that, we’re buying “cheap” data that’s regulated by time-constraints. You have 3 days to use this 1 Gig you can buy for R50 for example. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

The last thing these service providers care about is making sure their customers get data that lasts on reasonable prices, why should they? They’re running a business and the profit is more important. Also, without much competition to keep them on their toes, they’re more likely to continue to do as they please.

No one is holding them accountable. Even with movements like #datamustfall. We talk and talk, create as many hashtags as we want, we’re still can’t foster any change.

I know for a fact that there is a solution. It might not reside in my brain, as it isn’t my area of expertise, but there is a solution. But we live in a continent that isn’t receptive to anything that favours the benefit of its majority citizens.

And that’s that on availability, affordability and accountability of the internet in Africa.

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