SA internet holding back economic growth

The high cost of the internet in South Africa, along with a lack of access and slow connectivity, hampers economic growth and job creation in the country.

This is according to DA shadow minister of communications, Marian Shinn, and follows a new Akamai report which revealed that South Africa has one of the lowest average internet connection speeds in the world.

Akamai’s report: State of the Internet, SA had the lowest average connection speed of all European, Middle-Eastern, and African (Emea) countries surveyed.

The report also revealed the following:

  • SA ranks 80th worldwide for average internet connectivity speed;
  • 126th for peak connectivity speed worldwide; and
  • 69th globally for the average speed of broadband connectivity with only 8% able to achieve speeds of 4 Mbps or more. This is far below the global average of 46% and less than a tenth of the global leader, Switzerland, at 88%.

The DA pointed out that the World Bank has identified broadband connectivity as a key catalyst for economic growth with every 10% increase in connectivity enabling a 1.38% growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

At an average connection speed of 2.1 Mbps, South Africa is below the global average of 3.1 Mbps and far behind the top ten countries who all achieve average connectivity speeds between 8.2 and 14.2 Mbps.

“It is imperative that South Africa reach this standard in order to stimulate economic growth and job creation,” Shinn said.

Separate research conducted by the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) and Echo Consultancy estimates the total internet population in South Africa in 2013 to be almost 14 million users. This represents 39% of the adult population.

The shadow minister said that the DA will write to Communications Minister Yunus Carrim, requesting that he prioritises South Africa’s slow and expensive Internet regime by instructing his department and entities reporting to it to make this first priority through:

  • The allocation of high-speed spectrum for wireless broadband services;
  • Information and Communications Infrastructure requirements as set out in the NDP; and
  • The acceptance of a comprehensive and coherent broadband policy and rollout plan.

Shinn said that the success of the DA-led Western Cape Government’s broadband strategy is an indication of what can be achieved.

“The DA-run Western Cape is showing the way in broadband roll-out. By the end of 2014, 70% of provincial government buildings, rural libraries and schools in the Western Cape will be connected.”

“In addition, feasibility and design studies for the Wireless Mesh project in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Saldanha Bay will ensure that these areas will become wireless internet hotspots,” Shinn said.

The DA communications lead said that target for every resident of Cape Town to have access to broadband infrastructure in excess of 100 Megabits a second by 2020 is well under way.

More on broadband in South Africa

SA Internet population close to 14 million

Broadband speeds: how does SA stack up?

DoC has been dysfunctional for decades: DA

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SA internet holding back economic growth