news analysis advocacy
tips on searching
   the web  


AfricaFocus Bulletins with Material on ICT and Africa
Bulletins with material on
Africa's economy | Africa's debt | Africa's trade

Sites on ICT and Africa recommended by AfricaFocus

Balancing Act Africa | Association for Progressive Communications

Google Custom Search

AfricaFocus Bulletins

January 30, 2017  Kenya: State of the Internet
    Kenya has long been a global technology leader for innovation in mobile and internet technology, including the use of mobile phones for uses as diverse as cash transfers and crowdsourcing of reports on election violence (in 2008). Kenya also features an active press and civil society accustomed to speaking out about national issues including corruption and human rights violations. With national general elections scheduled for August this year, these assets can play important roles in sustaining peace and democracy. But they may also be threatened by government restrictions or by use of social media for propaganda and incitement to violence.

January 25, 2016  Africa: Charting the Digital Gender Gap
    New research from the World Wide Web Foundation reveals new details about the enduring digital gender gap in Africa's urban cities, despite the unprecedented expansion of access to mobile phones among women as well as men. In poor neighborhoods of six African cities, the study shows, "women are almost as likely as men to own a mobile phone of their own, but they are a third less likely than men of similar age, education level and economic status to use their phones to access the Internet. " The cities included were Lagos, Nairobi, Maputo, Kampala, Yaounde, and Cairo.

December 1, 2015  Africa/Global: Changing "the Media"
    "I've thought a lot about the outrage over unequal media coverage when it comes to attacks in the Western world vs death in 'other' black and brown countries. I cringed when Barack Obama called the Paris attacks an attack on 'all humanity'--as if brutal attacks in Pakistan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia and Mexico are not quite up to that benchmark. I agree that we in the media need to do a better job ... [but] I can't help but think that the 'Why didn't the media care about _____' stories will come, generate outrage clicks and shares, and pass, without people really taking the time to examine their own media consumption habits. ... the stories were written, you just didn't click." - Karen Attiah, Nov. 17, 2015

November 19, 2015  Africa: Boosting ICTs
    The "AfricaRising" narrative can be a misleading stereotype, celebrating economic and technical progress without taking into account the enormous failures to deliver the fruits equitably to the majority of Africa's people. But one area in which some boosterism may be appropriate is the rapid advance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the continent.

October 20, 2015  Africa: Tax Tricks, Mobile Phones, and Beer
    "Despite MTN having its headquarters located in South Africa, 55% of the "management and technical fee payments" flow to "MTN International" (MTNI)--a company which has no staff and is located in Mauritius. The remaining 45% was paid to MTN Dubai--a subsidiary which the company says it renders international financial services and shared services to MTN Group." - Quartz Africa, on new report by amaBhungane and Finance Uncovered

September 21, 2015  Africa: Internet Usage Rising Rapidly
    The ways in which disruptive technologies change the world are often unpredictable, and how much the results are positive or negative can be debated. But there is no doubt that they give scope for human creativity to have greater impact, for both good and evil. Internet growth, giving new opportunities for African creativity, has already changed Africa significantly. And, notes Russell Southwood of the leading industry newsletter Balancing Act Africa, further changes are coming rapidly.

July 10, 2014  Africa: Rapid Growth in Mobile Money
    "The mobile money landscape is becoming increasingly competitive, and this is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa where mobile money is already available in 36 of 47 countries in the region. ... [For one example], Tanzania has witnessed unprecedented uptake of mobile financial services (MFS) in the span of five years. After a humble beginning, when less than 1% of the adult population had access to mobile financial services in 2008, 90% had access by September 2013 - an exponential increase. Likewise, active usage has shown similar improvement, with 43% of the adult population actively using this service in September 2013." - GSM Association reports

November 12, 2013  Africa: Digital Divide to Power Divide
    "The success of many African countries in addressing the digital divide masks a large, yawning hole into which many are about to fall. The more successful they are at addressing the digital divide, the more it turns into the power divide. The shortage of electricity access and poor quality of supply will begin to undermine what has been achieved. ... The kind of political focus that has been bought to bear on the digital divide just does not exist to address this problem." - Russell Southwood, Balancing Act Africa

Feb 15, 2012  Africa: Social Media Updates
    Although the #OccupyNigeria protests failed to gain a complete rollback of the price increase in petrol last month, they clearly had significant impact. In addition to a partial rollback in the price, they spurred the beginning of new government action against corruption in the oil sector, including the appointment of former anti-corruption official Nuhu Ribadu to head a task force focused on the sector. The outcome is of course uncertain, but the protests clearly mark the emergence of African social media to political prominence beyond North Africa.

Nov 16, 2011  Africa: Fast-Paced Mobile Growth Continues
    "With over 620 million mobile connections as of September 2011, Africa has overtaken Latin America to become the second largest mobile market in the world, after Asia. Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year and is forecast to reach 735 million by the end of 2012." - GSMA African Mobile Observatory

Apr 5, 2011  Tanzania: Old Media, New Media
    Tanzania is only in the middle tier of technology adopters among African countries, notes Russell Southwood in the latest issue of his Balancing Act Africa newsletter. But an InterMedia national survey shows interesting combinations of old and new technologies, with text messaging leading newspapers as a source of current news (although radio remains the number one source). And there is substantial potential for rapid expansion of mobile internet in the next few years.

Nov 22, 2010  Africa: E-Books Poised to Take Off
    Can Africa take the lead in taking advantage of e-books, as it has with the rapid expansion of mobile phones and innovations such as mobile banking applications? It is certainly too early to be sure. But there are some solid reasons to think this might be possible, more quickly than it seemed only a year or two ago.

May 9, 2010  Africa: New Internet Opportunities
    The convergence of internet and mobile phone technologies is creating significant new opportunities for innovation in Africa, which are likely to continue to grow as new fibre-optic connectivity increases not only in coastal nations but also through links to their land-locked neighbors. Ushahidi software first developed to monitor violence in Kenya in 2008 is now being used around the world. And other initiatives, such as cellphone banking, are also being rolled out rapidly.

Oct 27, 2009  Africa: Green Power for Mobile
    "The GSMA's Green Power for Mobile (GPM) programme estimates there are 485 million mobile users without access to the electricity grid, a factor which severely limits usage opportunities. The report identifies a range of charging choices available that, if implemented effectively, will extend service availability and could boost average revenues per user by 10-14%." - Balancing Act Africa News Update

Oct 27, 2009  Africa: ICT Access Updates
    "Tanzania Telecommunication Company Ltd customers will from this month enjoy a 50 per cent cut in Internet charges, making Tanzania the first East African country to lower Internet charges. TTCL chief executive officer Said Amour Said, told The East African that the lowering of charges follows the firm's connecting to the Seacom submarine fibre optic cable." - Balancing Act Africa News Update

May 5, 2009  Africa: Mobile Internet Taking Off
    "The number of people in Africa using their mobile to access the Internet has rocketed over the last year. In many instances the number of mobile Internet subscribers far outstrips their fixed line equivalent. ... By the end of 2008, South Africa had 1.35 million Internet subscribers, of which, according to World Wide Worx, 794,000 were wireless Internet subscribers ...I hear you saying that this is South Africa and the rest of Africa is different. [But similar proportions hold in Uganda, Tanzania, and other countries] - Russell Southwood, Balancing Act Africa

Feb 4, 2009  Africa: Internet Growth Accelerating
    "Until recently, the experience of the internet in Africa has been like having to eat a three-course meal by sucking it through a straw: time-consuming, unreliable and expensive. .. [but prices are dropping] and cheap international bandwidth is an essential component for any developing country to remain competitive in a changing world." - Russell Southwood, in Global Information Society Watch 2008

Nov 7, 2008  Africa: Wireless Internet in the Countryside
    Two case studies in Tanzania, discussed in a new report by wireless internet expert Ian Howard for the Association for Progressive Communications, show two very different models for building sustainable telecentres to meet needs in rural areas. The Family Alliance for Development and Cooperation is an initiative by self-taught technician Joseph Sekiku, in Karagwe, who created a telecentre on his property with the help of small grants. The Sengerema telecentre, some 200 km away, is the result of several donor and community initiatives engaging a range of stakeholders.

Jun 26, 2008  Mauritius: Cyber-Island Strategy
    "Mauritius remains unique in its region in having identified ICT as a fifth pillar of its economy alongside sugar, textiles, tourism and financial services. However, it not only described a compelling vision but it went out and put it into practice. ... the need for cheaper bandwidth became an essential part of delivering this vision." - Russell Southwood

May 17, 2008  Africa: Telecoms Acceleration
    "Growth in Africa's mobile sector has defied all predictions. Africa remains the region with the highest annual growth rate in mobile subscribers and added no less than 65 million new subscribers during 2007. At the beginning of 2008, there were over a quarter of a billion mobile subscribers on the continent. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of this century to almost one third of the population today." - International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

Oct 8, 2007  Africa: New ICT Developments
    "Africa's incumbent telcos have for so long dominated the discussion about where the market's going that it's hard to spot the moment when their ability to dominate slipped below the water line. The mobile operators are now the incumbents and as contenders for the title are seeking to secure their new-found position on the top of the heap." Balancing Act News Update

Sep 9, 2007  Africa: ICT Updates
    Africa, with only 3% of world internet users and some 14% of the world's population, is still the least connected continent. But it is also the one with the fastest growth rate in connectivity. The number of internet users has increased more than 7 times the number in the year 2000, to almost 34 million.

May 29, 2007  Africa: eLearning Africa
    Over 1200 eLearning enthusiasts from 85 countries are attending the annual eLearning Africa conference in Nairobi this week. The countries with the largest participation are the host, Kenya, followed by Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.

Dec 7, 2006  Africa: Balancing Act Internet News
    "In less than two years, the bandwidth of traffic on Internet services provided by Senegal's telecom Sonatel has doubled. By today, Internet services provided by Sonatel are the most extensive in sub-Saharan Africa, second only to those in South Africa, a country of much bigger resources." - Balancing Act News Update

Dec 7, 2006  Africa: Bandwidth Reports
    "Bandwidth is the life-blood of the world's knowledge economy, but it is scarcest where it is most needed ... For those [African institutions] that can afford it, their costs are usually thousands of times higher than for their counterparts in the developed world, and even Africa's most well-endowed centres of excellence have less bandwidth than a home broadband user in North America or Europe, and it must be shared amongst hundreds or even thousands of users. A variety of factors are responsible for this situation, but the biggest cause is the high cost of international connections to the global telecommunication backbones." - Mike Jensen

Mar 9, 2006  Africa: Digital Dumps
    Recycled computers and other electronic equipment have the potential to help bridge the digital divide. But, says a recently published study by the Basel Action Network (BAN), many quickly find their way to toxic waste dumps, being not economically repairable or usable.

Jan 21, 2006  Africa: Imagining the Digital Future
    Russell Southwood's Balancing Act Africa's News Update, coming out weekly in English and monthly in French, is packed with news about new developments in African telecommunications, internet, and computer technology ( In the latest issue, Southwood imagines what the scene could look like five years from now.

Apr 22, 2005  Africa: Internet Advances
    As of April 2005, the African continent now has its own regional internet registry, AfriNic, with responsibility for assignment of internet addresses within the continent. This long-awaited development has the potential to save some $500 million in fees paid outside the continent each year to registries in Europe and North America. The agency, which received formal approval at an international meeting in Argentina on April 8, is headquartered in Mauritius, with an operations center in South Africa and back-up facilities in Egypt.

Nov 7, 2004  Africa: Intellectual Property
    "Humanity stands at a crossroads - a fork in our moral code and a test of our ability to adapt and grow. Will we evaluate, learn and profit from ideas and opportunities [to share knowledge], or will we respond to the most unimaginative pleas to suppress all of this in favor of intellectually weak, ideologically rigid, and sometimes brutally unfair and inefficient policies [on intellectual property]? - Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization

May 6, 2004  Africa: Mobile Renaissance?
    The number of telephone subscribers in Africa has more than doubled in the last three years. In 2003, Africa had 73 million voice telephone subscribers (22 million fixed and 51 million mobile), up from 35.4 million in 2000 (19.7 million fixed and 15.7 million mobile).

May 6, 2004  Kenya: ICT Policy Debates
    Virtually everyone agrees that information and communications technology (ICT) must be a key component of any viable development strategy for African countries. But lip service is still easier than charting and implementing a coherent strategy. Recent meetings in Nairobi and Cairo provide ample evidence of both lively debate and continuing obstacles.

Feb 17, 2004  Africa: Internet Creativity
    According to latest estimates, Africa still has the lowest level of internet access among world regions, accounting for only 1.4% of the estimated 700 million people online worldwide. The 10 million in Africa estimated to have internet access are only a tenth of the 100 million that would match Africa's share of the world population. But the African internet public is large enough to provide much scope for an abundance of diverse ventures to make creative use of new technologies.

Dec 15, 2003  Africa: Digital Solidarity Gap, 2
    Meeting in Lyon, France just before the World Summit on the Information Society, representatives of cities and local authorities decided to take their own initiatives to address the global digital divide. When the World Summit failed to make a firm commitment to a new Digital Solidarity Fund, the mayors of Lyon and Geneva joined with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to commit 1 million euros to launch the fund themselves.

Dec 15, 2003  Africa: Digital Solidarity Gap, 1
    Delegates from 176 countries and as many as 10,000 representatives of civil society and the private sector attended the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva last week. They dispersed having filled dozens of web sites with documentation of the vast digital divide between rich and poor, declarations of good intentions, examples of promising initiatives, and decisions to postpone controversial decisions on internet governance and a proposed Digital Solidarity Fund.