[AfrICANN-discuss] Africa: Raising Hope For Broadband Revolution
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Tue Jun 22 17:28:16 SAST 2010
Africa: Raising Hope For Broadband Revolution / Daily Independent (Lagos)
21 June 2010
Participants to the just concluded West and Central Africa Com (WECA) conference in Dakar, Senegal, are hopeful that Africa, like other developed continents of the world, would soon experience full broadband revolution.
Majority of speakers, who were concerned about the poor state of infrastructure in Africa, called on telecom operators from various countries in Africa, especially those from West and Central Africa, to intensify efforts in building networks that would accommodate the expected broadband revolution.
Some speakers that were particularly concerned about the deployment of last-mile services to homes and offices in the region said the expected broadband revolution would drive down cost and increase accessibility as well as Internet speed.
Participants welcomed the several submarine cable operators in Africa like Main One, Glo1, WACS and ACE, and encouraged them to invest more and bring the expected broadband revolution to Africa.
Chief Executive Officer for Etisalat Nigeria, Mr. Steve Evans, who delivered paper on enhancing connectivity in Africa at the conference, said telecom operators in Nigeria have invested so much in infrastructure and that Etisalat is building more networks to cover every part of the country.
According to him, "Etisalat is fully prepared for the broadband revolution and has bought broadband capacity from Main One, with plans to buy more capacity from another submarine cable operator.
While some participants were hopeful of imminent broadband revolution in Africa, some decried the current state of poor broadband and mobile penetration in Africa, explaining that Africa needs faster broadband and mobile penetration.
Thelca Mbongue, Senior Analyst from Informa Telecoms, organisers of WECA 2010 conference, explained that mobile penetration among the West and Central African countries remained at 40 percent and that operators in those countries were yet to make good penetration in the mobile market.
She however identified insufficient broadband capacity, poor regulatory environment, poor interconnection agreement, harsh government policies, unfair competition and poor funding as major obstacles to broadband penetration in the West and Central African countries.
Addressing the issue of connecting West and Central African countries to broadband, Jabulani Dhliwayo, director in charge of market development in Africa for Corning Optical Fibre, insisted that fibre remained the key technology that would drive broadband in Africa. He called on African operators to invest in fibre, be it wired or wireless. He was optimistic that the several expected sub-marine optic fibre cable coming to Africa, would boost fibre technology and increase technology usage in Africa. He listed SAT 3, which is already active in most African countries, and the expected Glo 1, Main One, ACE and WACS, as major sub-marine fibre optic cables that would boost technology in Africa, if properly handled.
Dhliwayo identified the deployment of Large Effective Area Fibre (LEAF), and the Wide Interoperability Microwave Access (WiMax) for last mile solution that would boost the deployment of broadband to homes and offices across Africa.
CEO of GeoidTel, Mr. Ismail Olubiyi, spoke on next steps for fixed line, mobile and wireless operators to deliver reliable and affordable broadband.
He was optimistic that the expected landing of the several submarine cables to the shores of Nigeria would boost broadband penetration.
The two-day WECA conference dwelt largely on building international connectivity, deployment of advanced fibre optic cable networks that would deliver optimised broadband access in West and Central Africa. It also deliberated on the role of WiMAX technology in delivering broadband access in the region.
Apart from broadband, other issues that were discussed included co-location and infrastructure sharing among telecom operators and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Chief Executive of Informa Telecoms, Ian Hemming said the goal of WECA 2010 congress was to extend the leading position of Informa Telecoms as provider of business intelligence and marketing solutions to the global telecoms and media markets.
Research Director for Informa Telecoms, Julie Rey said the objective was to provide the best networking opportunities in the region, as well as creating a forum to share ideas, experiences and knowledge among telecommunications professionals.
Chief Executive Officer of Alink Telecoms of Cote d Ivore, Etienne Kouadio, who spoke on strategies to remain competitive in the West and Central Africa market, listed innovation, cost effectiveness and field support as good measures that operators should hold on to, if they must remain competitive in the African telecom market.
He said operators need to be more innovative in product and service delivery in order to offer more than market demands.
The WECA 2010 conference was well attended by several speakers, exhibitors and participants.
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