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8 - 12 November 2021
Virtual Event

Connecting the Next Billion

Uniting Africa’s connectivity champions to deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable, and sustainable digital connectivity for all

The Connecting the Next Billion track at AfricaCom brings governments, MNOs & ISPs, global tech giants, rural & remote access solution providers and digital inclusion experts together to explore why access, affordability and applicability remain the key challenges to connecting the continent.

About the topic

Internet connectivity is a critical accelerator of socio-economic development and has the potential to enrich the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Outlined as of critical importance for Africa for many decades, bridging the digital divide has remained a central tenet of the continent’s digital transformation journey. Join governments, MNOs & ISPs, global tech giants, rural & remote access solution providers and digital inclusion experts to explore why access, affordability and applicability remain the key challenges to connecting the continent. We’ll examine business and partnership models that make rural connectivity more financially viable, learn about innovative technologies and discuss the role of policymakers and regulators in creating an enabling environment that supports Africa’s connectivity champions.

Key sessions include:

Creating new markets by democratizing access to affordable broadband

Nearly a billion people in Africa are waiting to come online, but affordability remains a key barrier. The Alliance for Affordable Internet recommends that people spend no more than 2% of their monthly income for entry-level broadband, but most ISPs simply cannot afford to build a business with those economics. Is there a way to radically reduce costs at the middle and last mile? What if dropping prices could solve the affordability crisis for customers while unleashing profit for ISPs? 

 This talk draws on Project Taara’s work in Africa and explores ways to deliver affordable broadband that benefit customers and ISPs. We’ll explore alternatives to fiber for middle-mile infrastructure, pay-as-you-go pricing, and how to leverage the sharing economy to extend the last-mile networks.

  • InnovaTech: Looking at the nuts and bolts of the tech, development cycles at X, impact use cases that highlight new market potential

  • Integration: How can technological integration into Africa’s wider connectivity matrix deliver internet access in remote and hard-to-reach areas? Reducing the middle-mile capex and creating pay-as-you-go last-mile networks, our work with infrastructure providers and ISPs
  • Scalability: Examine pilot results, growth opportunities, and call to engage industry thought leaders who can help build out Africa's Missing Network

Africa’s evolving connectivity models in 2021 and beyond

  • Model matrix: Unpacking how new fibre-satellite collaboration is facilitating more complementary connectivity models, and how novel tech breakthroughs are plugging in

  • Major moves: Exploring the status and impact of the biggest fibre and satellite connectivity projects on-continent, what gaps are they filling and what challenges are they facing?

  • Value-based policy: Policy to champion super-fast, affordable broadband; knowledge sharing; and industry consultation as the very foundations of technological integration

Connecting the Unconnected - Delivering on the promise of broadband for all

  • Last mile: Prioritising the remaining unconnected - villages and rural areas, women, farmers, and students through strategies that bring fibre to Africa’s off-grid communities

  • Evolution: Which business models and new technologies are being deployed to champion broadband connectivity for Africa’s remaining unconnected?

  • Case studies: Exploring successful public and private drives to bridge the broadband gap - successful country policy frameworks to expand internet uptake, which large projects are having real impact - and what lessons can the continent learn from these?

Why authentic African stories are a critical piece of the 4IR

  • Tailored tales: Discussing the link between bespoke digital content and engagement - how country-specific video, music, and news brings, keeps and inspires Africans online

  • Going global: The next frontier for African music, movies, and stories - showcasing what the continent has to offer international audiences, and monetising it

  • Adoption hurdles: Exploring the challenges of slow and expensive internet, high production costs, competition and the potential for national content frameworks

  • Nollywood effect: Nigeria’s second largest employer and export, generating ~$800M p/a for the economy - what makes Nollywood special, and what can the continent learn from Nigeria?

Connecting off-grid markets to bring Africa’s next billion online

The changing role of satellite in bringing broadband to the continent

  • Matrix: Exploring satellite’s role in Africa’s connectivity matrix - status, challenges, internet supply to rural/unconnected areas, alongside evolving goals for future coverage 

  • Tech advance: How innovation is opening up new opportunities for satellite connectivity in densely populated areas, and deploying reliable internet at affordable prices

  • LEOxGEO: Unpacking the revolutionary role low earth orbit satellite constellations could play in African connectivity - offering low latency, high throughput, and continental coverage - how can this power digitization and tech disruption across sector?

Affordability Matters: African connectivity is a necessity, not a luxury

  • Smartphones: Critical to Africa’s 4IR journey: what current schemes are governments, service providers and tech giants championing to provide affordable smartphones?

  • Dynamic data: Key to keeping people connected online - why do data prices vary so wildly across the continent? What have nations like Algeria and Morocco got so right?

  • Accountability: Africa’s average price of data has fallen ~30% since the UN Broadband Commission's targeted ‘<2% of monthly income’. We’ll explore the importance of setting clear, achievable targets for data prices, and ensuring accountability for those missed 

  • Innovation: COVID-19 was an unexpected catalyst for innovation and partnership in Africa - can this drive more affordable connectivity? 

Social Media in Africa: A coming-of-age story

  • Social & state: Increasingly complex intersections between social media and politics, how it can be a tool to combat authoritarian policy and how national governments keep pace

  • Democratic tool? How tech is helping combat the threat of disinformation, and the evolving role of social media giants as content moderators

  • Education: The newly connected are often less savvy on issues of misinformation and security - what role do social media companies have as educators?

  • Global reach: Reshaping the African narrative through access to authentic, inspiring content on the real stories, successes, and challenges from those on-continent 

Video: The value of connectivity in poor, marginalised and remote areas


Mike Jensen , Managing Director at ICT Consulting is joined by Patrick Byamungu, Co-founder at Director at La Difference  talk about the value of connectivity in poor, marginalised and remote areas

Liquid Intelligent Technologies surpasses 100,000 km of fiber

Liquid Intelligent Technologies has reached a major milestone, passing 100,000 km of fiber in Africa. This makes the company – which was formerly called Liquid Telecom – the largest independent fiber network provider on the continent and in emerging markets globally.