The president, Huawei Southern Africa Region, Leo Chen, said with fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband in Sub-Saharan Africa at 21 per cent, the region needs to address a major internet infrastructure shortfall.
Chen who disclosed this in a paper delivered to mark the 2021 Telecommunication & Information Society Day, said In Sub-Saharan Africa, 270 million cannot access the mobile internet because they don’t have the requisite coverage.
“The figures are even starker when it comes to fixed-line internet connectivity. According to figures from research firm Ovum, there are just 6.6 million fixed line internet subscriptions in Sub-Saharan Africa. While numbers are projected to grow three-fold by 2023, that still represents a small fraction of the region’s population,” he said.
Listing the benefits of growing internet accessibility, Chen said in 2019, in Sub-Saharan Africa, more than 650, 000 jobs were supported directly by the mobile ecosystem and more than 1.4 million informal jobs in 2019, adding that it also contributed more than $17 billion to public funding through the course of the year.
Chen reiterated that government alone cannot create access to internet for all its citizens, and called on corporate organisations to join hands with the government to make that a reality.
He said Huawei recognises this and has backed a number of initiatives that help to grow access in areas where it is needed most. He said the company launched the DigiSchool project in partnership with a local operator and a non-profit organisation to connect more than 100 urban and rural primary schools to broadband internet.
“We have also rolled out DigiTrucks in several African countries, which enable everyone from students to entrepreneurs to learn how to use computers and connect with the digital world. From a healthcare perspective and with the broadband connections, we launched Lifebank, a pioneering Nigerian startup that delivers blood and other essential medical supplies to hospitals. By keeping the startup and its riders connected, we can ensure that hospitals get urgent supplies when they are needed,” he added.