Digital infrastructure, including broadband, mobile telecom and internet, is at the heart of the digital economy. However, a stark digital divide remains. An estimated 900 million people are still not connected to the internet across the continent; for those who are connected, connectivity prices remain mostly high and bandwidth is severely limited in many areas. Only 0.4% of the African population has a fixed-broadband subscription and the great majority of internet users rely on mobile broadband.
Mobile internet is a real need for the rural population living in remote locations with patchy network coverage. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those who were not digitally connected lost access to health services and education. Production across sectors got severely impacted. To accelerate Africa’s economic recovery beyond the pandemic, the continent will need to speed up its digital transformation.
The Global Gateway, the EU plan to support infrastructure development around the world, aims to mobilise €300 billion between 2021 and 2027 for connectivity projects, including in the digital sector. Here’s how investing in Africa’s digital infrastructure can help the continent build a secure, inclusive and safe digital economy.