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Funke Opeke,CEO MainOne

Experts at the International Telecoms Week conference in Chicago have highlighted the need to accelerate investment in Africa to facilitate the continent’s broadband data explosion.

Based on the theme “Achieving A Connected Continent: Leading The Data Explosion Across Africa”, the expert panel session with participation from Google, Facebook, WIOCC, Liquid Telecom and Angola Cables discussed strategies for achieving improved broadband access across the continent. The session reviewed the state of broadband infrastructure and data traffic trajectories in different countries on the continent and made comparisons to other markets globally. This included areas in which investments had been made such as submarine cables, data centers, and access networks including 3G4G and FTTH networks as some of the elements that have accelerated the growth in data traffic on the continent. The consensus was that the data explosion will need to be driven by further investment in local networks to reach more end users rather than new submarine cables. The session revealed that while most African submarine cable systems had the capability to deliver 100 GBPS wavelengths, Africa has not utilized near enough capacity to saturate those systems. According to the panelists, for broadband to become more pervasive, there is need for continued investment and innovative business models to aid the rapid deployment of Access networks across the continent.

Facebook’s Regional Head, Africa for Express Wifi, Uche Ofodile shared the company’s experiences working with carriers to jointly make infrastructure investments and highlighted its initiatives in Uganda, where it is working with Airtel to deploy fiber backhaul, but noted that demand and favorable regulatory environments informed their decisions to invest. The need to go beyond mobile infrastructure was also highlighted by the CEO of Liquid Telecom, Nic Rudnick, whose company just completed its acquisition of South African operator, Neotel for $429million. “As consumers in Africa start to use the internet for content, TV and on-demand services, mobile will have its limitations, not just in terms of technology, but also in price. We need to look at other technologies to achieve cost effectiveness”.

The panelists’ assessment of data center growth in Africa also indicated that uptake is not as rapid as experienced in other parts of the world and that most of the content consumed in Africa is hosted in Europe. Data center operators, MainOne and Liquid shared their experience that initial demand on the continent has been driven by Enterprises and financial institutions as against other geographies where OTT players are the biggest data center players. “We do not see any of these OTTs hosting their services from Africa. We are not seeing meaningful investments coming into Africa (from OTT players) and with the sizeable population of the continent, we need to see them play a larger role in the African ecosystem”, the panel concluded.

For the sixth year in a row, MainOne raised Africa’s profile as a target for broadband investment at the recently concluded global telecoms conference, International Telecoms Week in Chicago, USA, where it hosted an over-subscribed Africa Panel Session. The session which was a gathering of major international and African carriers, data center operators, mobile network operators and content distribution companies, provided a platform for players to share perspectives on the opportunities and challenges across the region with a global audience. The discussions also focused on infrastructure challenges as well as regulatory and economic constraints that impede faster proliferation of broadband access across the continent.

 

Kenneth Omeruo
Omeruo Ndukaku Kenneth is an Innovation Management expert,the CEO of Emerging Media,a new media company.He is a member of ISPIM - International Society for Professional Innovation Management and the US-Africa chamber of Commerce.He is the Founder of TechTrends Nigeria Blog,Nigeria Innovation Summit and the African Innovation Academy.Kenneth is a highly sought-after Internet Marketing Consultant who has through his seminars, articles, training and consulting, helped many organizations, Individuals, Businesses maximize the Internet for business purposes.Kenneth has also being featured as a guest on the TV show TODAY ON STV Nigeria and on Bloomberg Africa TV.He is the author of the best –selling Internet Book: How To Create Unlimited Internet Wealth. He is a syndicated columnist with the following Newspapers in Nigeria: Daily Independent, Financial Standard, PUNCH, BusinessDay, and Sun.Kenneth organises the EduNet Conference for Universities in Nigeria. Kenneth is a member of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria( ISPON ) Roundtable For Capacity Development in Nigeria,member pre-selection committee for Nigeria at the UN World Summit Awards,a Panelist for Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria(YouWIN)-a Federal government initiative created by the ministry of finance,supported by ministries of Communications Technology,Youth Development,Worldbank and DFID. A 2013 Judge at the Google Cloud Developers Challenge for Sub Saharan Africa.He has been a contributing editor of Nigeria Communications Week,Africa Telecom and IT Business Magazine,ICT Today magazine,M2 magazine.Kenneth has been invited to the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation Forum, Oracle Open World Conference USA, Oracle Cloud World Dubai, and GITEX Dubai. He now lives in New York with his family and presently working on an Open Innovation project for Nigeria. You can contact Kenneth through email: (kenneth (at)techtrendsng.com) Facebook:www.facebook.com/Kenneth.omeruo On Twitter:www.twitter.com/kennethomeruo Skpe:Kenneth.Omeruo

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