East African countries to launch satellite to improve regional Internet coverage

By : Adoni Conrad Quenum

Date : mercredi, 15 novembre 2023 03:21

Africa has the lowest Internet penetration rate in the world. Authorities are joining forces with various partners to improve these figures, and are also considering collective action to achieve their goal.

The East African Community has decided to invest in the installation of a satellite to provide Internet access to the entire sub-region. The decision was taken at the ministerial meeting of the Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Development Group of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP), held on Wednesday, November 8, and Thursday, November 9 in Nairobi, Kenya.

"The Ministers agreed to fast track the modalities of establishing a Regional Owned Satellite for communication that will provide high-quality, dependable broadband internet services and broadcasting capabilities," reads the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting. 

The collective solution is the most viable since, according to NCIP coordinator Amb Richard Kabonero, “The cost of a satellite is about USD 300m which is very expensive for individual countries but as a region, we can work together."

 The need for Internet connectivity on the continent is constantly growing with the ongoing digital transformation. Traditional Internet service providers are unable to cover all areas, especially rural and landlocked ones, for a variety of reasons. According to DataReportal, the Internet penetration rate in East Africa was 23.1% in January 2023. The sub-region lags behind other parts of the continent, and satellite can be an interesting alternative.

It is worth mentioning that the cost of satellite internet is still high for average Africans. In January 2023, Starlink started deploying its satellite services in African countries. To access Starlink’s services, users need to buy kits that cost around $372 in the cheapest country (Nigeria) and almost $650 in Benin, where the service was launched earlier this month. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum


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