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Africa’s I — Internet

What role does the Internet play in Africa?

February 16, 2005

What role does the Internet play in Africa?

The low penetration rate of the Internet reflects Africa's poor infrastructure and low income levels — which preclude the purchasing of the expensive computer equipment that would be required.

But does this mean there are ten or eleven million PCs with Internet access in Africa? Actually, no.

Unfortunately, the costs to users of logging in are extremely high in Africa — both in dollar terms and in relation to average incomes. This is not the case in India. African access costs are kept high due to corrupt and inefficient telecommunications monopolies.

Because of the costs associated with IT, there are estimates that each computer with a dial-up connection in Africa supports some 3-5 people.

Thus, there are about four million computers with Internet connections which support those 10-11 million users.

Still, the Internet is being used in imaginative ways for development purposes.

For example, people wishing to attract the attention of foreign donors can publicize their projects on This allows much easier matchmaking for donors and projects that are thousands of miles away.