Connecting the Next Billion
In the first digital symposium of 2021, expert keynote speakers shared insights on Africa's connectivity landscape, from the last-mile challenge and the role of satellite, to issues like affordability, a lack of local content and the ever-present digital gender gap.
About our 'Connecting the Next Billion' Symposium
The first Digital Symposium of 2021 focused on 'Connecting the Next Billion', bringing industry experts from organisations including MTN, Safaricom, China Mobile International, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited and more to share insights on Africa's connectivity landscape.
Key Topics Included
Africa’s last mile connectivity challenge
Millions of Africans still don’t have connectivity options. In fact, nearly half of the global adult population has never used the internet, and the majority of those live in Africa. When we drill down to the last mile, what are the connectivity challenges keeping not only the next billion but the last billion Africans offline?
- Connectivity as a key: Unpacking the link between electrification and connectivity, particularly in poor and rural areas
- Infrastructure investment: which investment trends are shaping the sector, how is policy facilitating financial support for connectivity projects while governing the influence of private
and international investment?
- Affordability: Strategies to remove the barrier of high internet service costs, against the backdrop of proven benefits of connectivity for digital economies and GDP per capita growth
- Industry spotlight: Examining scope, status and last mile viability of the continent’s biggest private sector
Space 2.0 – The role of satellite in Africa’s connectivity matrix
Rural connectivity remains a major issue across Africa. Satellite has always been a way to provide broadband options to rural and remote areas otherwise unconnected because of terrestrial service unviability.
- Status check: Examining current satellite connectivity coverage, affordability and challenges to wider adoption and looking towards near-term investment trends for the sector
- Value: Exploring the role of satellite in the wider broadband connectivity drive: serving rural areas unreachable by terrestrial transmission, telemetry and spatial planning
- Industry trends: Looking at the impact other strategies and trends – GEO vs MEO & LEO, NGSO satellite projects – against the backdrop
Smartphone and data affordability as a key connectivity driver
Western nations talk about connectivity in a very different context to those in Africa. The reality is that connectivity remains fundamentally linked to affordability for Africans. So, the challenge is how we bring down the price of smartphones and the data needed to power them – to ensure Africans aren’t spending significant portions of their monthly income on connectivity.
- Status check: The current state of smartphone coverage in Africa, tracking the migration to 3G, 4G and 5G, and extrapolating the impact of COVID and other near-future trends
- Connectivity: Understanding smartphones as a key connectivity provider and portal to digital services: mobile money, e-health, digital education & location based services
- Industry initiatives: Exploring how new telco-led schemes are putting affordable smartphones and data in the hands of African consumers - Lipa Mdogo Mdogo (Safaricom-Google);
T-Smart (KaiOS Tech- Telkom Kenya)
- Digital skills & literacy: Addressing the biggest barrier to connectivity for low- and middle income Africans and exploring strategies for building a tech savvy workforce for the 4IR
- Regulatory impact: What regulatory interventions are happening on the continent to bring data prices down, in SA the CompCom forced operators to drop prices but is that happening elsewhere? Should regulators be getting involved in pricing or should it be competition based? Are interventions making any real impact?