Mobile broadband can boost SA economy: report

The Broadband Commission for Digital Development – a body set up by ITU and UNESCO – has released its first-ever country-by-country snapshot of the state of broadband deployment worldwide.

The State of Broadband 2012: Achieving Digital Inclusion for All report evaluates the roll-out of broadband around the world. It provides country rankings across up to 177 economies on economic impact, penetration, national broadband policy, and connecting people and dwellings.

The report reveals that, while household Internet access has seen strong growth over the past year, and is on track to achieve the Commission’s target for Connecting Homes to Broadband, individual Internet use continues to lag behind.

ITU analysts believe that mobile broadband could prove the platform for achieving the boost needed to get progress back on track – at the end of 2011, there were already almost twice as many mobile broadband subscriptions as fixed broadband connections.

South Africa

The State of Broadband 2012 report showed a mediocre performance for South Africa in the broadband arena.

South Africa ranks at number 104 out of 172 countries when it comes to fixed broadband penetration rates.

With only 1.8 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, South Africa ranked lower than countries like Tunisia, Mauritius and Egypt.

The country performed better when it came to mobile broadband. With 19.8 active mobile broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, South Africa ranks at number 47 out of 177 countries.

The report further revealed that 9.8 households in South Africa have Internet access. South Africa ranks at number 64 out of 127 developing countries for households with Internet access.

With 21 out of 100 individuals using the Internet in South Africa, it means that the country is ranked at 109 out of 177 countries. Here, South Africa ranked well below countries like Morocco, Kenya, Mauritius and Egypt.

Individuals using the Internet
Individuals using the Internet

Boosting SA’s GDP through mobile broadband

According to the report, wireless broadband and related industries in South Africa could generate 1.8% of GDP (R72 billion) by 2015, and about 28,000 jobs – plus further jobs outside the industry.

“The direct impact on productivity and economic growth ]suggests] that an increase in broadband penetration of 1% could result in 0.1% productivity gain.”

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Mobile broadband can boost SA economy: report