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Africa Emerges as The Worst Performing Region in Internet Value

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Telecommunications - Investors King

According to a Surfshark report, Africa emerged as the worst-performing region in internet value, with an index nearly 20 times lower than the global average.

In Africa, only 4 out of 10 people can access the internet at a fair price, with South Africa ranking first, Egypt ranking second, followed by Morocco in third position. On the other hand, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Cameroon ranked as the lowest-ranking African countries in internet value.

A worldwide mobile pricing 2022 report, which surveyed 233 countries and territories, revealed that five of the most expensive countries to buy mobile data in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mobile data is reported to be costly in most countries in Africa, and the cost of internet data is far more expensive than that of Israel, the country said to have the world’s cheapest data. Meanwhile, the high prices paid for the internet are rarely matched by the connection speeds.

With a penetration rate of 51% per cent of the total population of the country, Nigeria which is one of the leading African countries with the highest number of Internet users ranked 109th globally, with an index of 0.0017, which is 44 times lower than the global average, which signifies that Nigerians are overpaying for the internet they get when compared to other countries worldwide.

This represents a significant increase compared to 2021 when a global study ranked Nigeria lowest on affordable internet, ranking 85th out of 85 indexed countries in terms of internet affordability and rates.

Nigerians currently pay exorbitant fees to connect to the internet. For context, over N3.25 trillion was spent on airtime, data, and other telecommunication services in 2021.

As regards the African continent, Investors King understands that over the last eight years, the number of people connected to the internet in Africa doubled to 28%, owing to increased broadband internet coverage and smartphone penetration.

However, over half a billion (53%) people in regions with mobile broadband networks remain unconnected due to the high cost of data.

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TikTok Vows Legal Battle Amid Threat of US Ban

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As the specter of a US ban looms large over TikTok, the popular social media platform has declared its intention to wage a legal battle against potential legislation that could force its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance Ltd., to divest its ownership stake in the app.

In what amounts to a fight for its very existence in one of its most crucial markets, TikTok is gearing up for a high-stakes showdown in the courts.

The alarm bells were sounded within TikTok’s ranks as Michael Beckerman, the company’s head of public policy for the Americas, issued a rallying cry to its US staff.

In a memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Beckerman characterized the proposed legislation as an “unprecedented deal” brokered between Republican Speaker and President Biden, signaling TikTok’s readiness to challenge it legally once signed into law.

“This is an unprecedented deal worked out between the Republican Speaker and President Biden,” Beckerman stated in the memo. “At the stage that the bill is signed, we will move to the courts for a legal challenge.”

The urgency of TikTok’s response stems from recent developments in the US Congress, where lawmakers have fast-tracked legislation mandating ByteDance’s divestment from TikTok.

The bill, intricately linked to a vital aid package for Ukraine and Israel, has garnered significant bipartisan support and is expected to swiftly pass through the Senate before landing on President Biden’s desk.

Beckerman minced no words in his critique of the proposed legislation, labeling it a “clear violation” of TikTok users’ First Amendment rights and warning of “devastating consequences” for the millions of small businesses that rely on the platform for their livelihoods.

TikTok’s defiant stance reflects the gravity of the situation facing the tech giant, which has spent years grappling with concerns from US officials regarding potential national security risks associated with its Chinese ownership.

Despite extensive lobbying efforts led by TikTok CEO Shou Chew to allay these fears, the company now finds itself at a critical juncture, where legal action appears to be its last line of defense.

ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, has also signaled its intent to challenge any US ban in court, signaling a united front in the face of mounting pressure.

However, navigating the legal landscape will not be without its challenges, as ByteDance must contend with both US legislative measures and potential obstacles posed by the Chinese government, which has reiterated its opposition to a forced sale of TikTok.

As TikTok prepares to embark on what promises to be a protracted legal battle, the outcome remains uncertain.

For the millions of users and businesses that call TikTok home, the stakes have never been higher, as the platform fights to preserve its presence in the fiercely competitive landscape of social media.

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Starlink Pulls Plug on Ghana, South Africa, and Others

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Starlink, the satellite internet service operated by SpaceX, has announced the cessation of services in countries including Ghana and South Africa.

This decision comes as a significant blow to users who have come to rely on Starlink for their internet connectivity needs.

The decision, set to take effect by the end of April 2024, will disconnect all individuals and businesses in unauthorized locations across Africa, including Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.

While subscribers in authorized countries such as Nigeria, Mozambique, Mauritius, and others can continue to use their kits without interruption, those in affected regions face imminent loss of access.

One of the reasons cited by Starlink for the discontinuation is the violation of its terms and conditions.

The company explained that its regional and global roaming plans were intended for temporary use by travelers and those in transit, not for permanent use in unauthorized areas. Users found in breach of these conditions face the termination of their service.

Furthermore, Starlink’s recent email to subscribers outlined stringent measures to enforce compliance.

Subscribers who use the roaming plan for more than two months outside authorized locations must either return home or update their account country to the current one. Failure to do so will result in limited service access.

The decision to discontinue services in certain countries raises questions about the future of internet connectivity in these regions.

Also, concerns have been raised about Starlink’s ability to enforce the new rules effectively. Reports indicate that the company has previously failed to enforce similar conditions for over a year, raising doubts about the efficacy of the current measures.

Starlink’s decision to pull the plug on Ghana, South Africa, and other nations underscores the complexities of providing satellite internet services in diverse regulatory environments.

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Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Stalls at 42.53% Amid Connectivity Challenges

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Nigeria’s broadband penetration has stalled at 42.53% as of January, according to the latest report.

Subscriptions currently stand at 92.19 million, indicating a significant gap in connectivity, particularly in rural areas.

The Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 aims to increase broadband penetration to 70% by 2025, with the ultimate goal of achieving 96% mobile broadband coverage by 2030.

However, this ambitious target requires substantial investment—approximately $461 million, according to a recent report by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).

While the country’s major telecommunications companies, such as MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa, have invested heavily in expanding their network infrastructure, much of this development has been concentrated in urban areas. Rural and underserved regions face a significant coverage gap, exacerbating the digital divide.

Despite these challenges, Nigeria has made progress in improving its broadband infrastructure. Since 2012, the mobile broadband coverage gap across Africa has decreased from 56% to 13% in 2022, due to significant investments in network capacity and new technologies.

Nonetheless, millions of Nigerians, particularly those in rural regions, remain without access to essential telecom services.

To address this issue, Nigeria’s government established the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) in 2006, aimed at bridging the connectivity gap and expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas.

The fund provides resources for deploying telecommunications infrastructure in economically unviable regions.

The success of these initiatives, along with increased investments in broadband infrastructure and policies to incentivize internet expansion in remote areas, will be crucial in closing the connectivity gap and improving digital access for all Nigerians.

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