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The Digital Divide Getting Smaller, but Internet Interference Remain Concerning

According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report 2023, growing adoption of 5G technology across Africa is set to increase by a staggering 47-fold in subscriptions over the next 5 years, not counting North Africa. In other words, 5G subscriptions will grow from a relatively modest base of 3m in December 2022 to a forecast 140m by 2028. However, we should bear in mind that Africa continues to record the most restrictions on access to internet services. Military coups almost always result in either total or substantial internet blackouts. Due to the civil disturbances early this year, Ethiopia imposed a blackout of social media which it raised this month, allowing its citizens to access Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and YouTube for the first time in more than 5 months. It is challenging for ecommerce to operate and grow under these circumstances.

Access to the internet notwithstanding, Ethiopian tech companies have banded together to push for policy changes and to market the country as a top outsourcing destination, looking to replicate South Asia’s success in using digital skills to transform the economy. More than 10 tech companies have joined together to form the Ethiopian Outsourcing Association. Ethiopia also welcomed its new membership of BRICS as a way to push its tech agenda. Meanwhile, Somalia has joined other countries in banning certain social media – in this case TikTok has been banned by the government.

Alastair Tempest

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