African fibre industry growth explored

Africa Fibre Forum 2023
Despite Africa having the highest broadband growth rate globally, the penetration of access to fibre remains low, hindering the digitalisation process.
Phumi Ramalepe - Chinese multinational corporation Huawei, along with other players in the industry, is working towards expanding and strengthening the fibre industry in Africa.

This is according to the president of the Southern Africa Carrier Network Business Group of Huawei, Samuel Chen, who emphasised the importance fibre holds for Africa. He was speaking at the Africa Fibre Forum 2023, hosted by Digital Council Africa in Cape Town.

"Connectivity is rapidly changing our lives, but compared with the global average, the penetration rate of access fibre in Africa is much lower, which restricts the digitalisation process in Africa. However, Africa's broadband growth rate is the highest in the world," he said.

Chen said, based on local conditions and global best practices, Huawei has been exploring best ways to develop and improve the fibre industry in Africa.

It has also been providing cost-effective solutions with highest efficiency and premium experience.

Quality, strength

Dietlof Mare, the CEO of South African fibre provider Vuma, who also spoke at the conference, said the issue was not just about installing fibre, but ensuring the right quality and strength thereof.

"In Africa, you cannot afford to take shortcuts on quality," he said. Mare added that enhanced access would quickly result in high demand.

He gave an example of houses in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. These houses went from having no internet to using 300 gigabytes of data a month.

"It's data access in abundance. That's what we want to try and create," he said.

The same sentiment was expressed by the director-general of the World Broadband Association (WBBA), Martin Creaner, who emphasised Africa's potential in broadband connectivity.

"The world will add another 243 million fixed connections over the coming five years, most of them fibre, so that by 2027, 32% of the global population will be connected, up from only 23% in 2020.

"The African continent is in the fast lane of broadband connectivity with a faster rate of growth and greater potential for growth than any other region of the world," he said.


South Africa's deputy minister of communications and digital technologies, Philly Mapulane, highlighted that Africa was lagging behind in internet speed compared to its global counterparts and that investment in fibre was a step in the right direction.

"The World Economic Forum recently published an article on global digital quality of life. A concerning observation in it is that Africa has the slowest internet speeds globally, 195% slower than Europe's average for mobile internet speeds and 418% slower than Europe's fixed internet speeds.

"Investment in fibre is our best bet at turning the situation around," he said.

He added that fibre network was crucial for fostering the digital economy and unlocking opportunities for everyone through inclusive connectivity.

"Digital infrastructure, in particular the fibre networks, is essential to support the digital economy and to harness opportunities offered by the emerging technologies and innovations.

"Universal, high quality, affordable and inclusive connectivity is dependent on extensive deployment and use of fibre networks," he said. – Fin24