Displaying items by tag: subSaharan Africa

Youth are driving the online era

Written on Sunday, 10 September 2017 05:56

In 104 countries around the world, more than 80 percent of the youth population is online, according to ITU’s 2017 Facts and Figures report. In developed countries, 94 percent of young people aged 15-24 use the internet compared with 67 percent in developing counties and only 30 percent in least developed countries. Yet, sub-Saharan Africa remains the fastest growing mobile market.

Youth are at the forefront of internet adoption. The proportion of young people aged 15-24 using the internet (71 percent) is significantly higher than the proportion of the total population using the internet (48 percent). Young people represent almost one-fourth of the total number of individuals using the internet worldwide, according to ITU. In less developed countries, 25 percent of individuals using the internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13 percent in developed countries.

The potential of youth hasn’t gone unnoticed in developing regions such as Africa. Alphabet-owned Google aims to train 10 million people in Africa in online skills over the next five years, Alphabet’s Chief Executive, Larry Page, said in July this year, in an effort to make them more employable. A spokesperson said the company aims to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Google’s recent pledge is an extension of an initiative launched in April 2016 to train African youths in digital skills. In March the company said it had reached its initial target of training one million young people. At a Google conference in Nigeria’s capital Lagos, Google chief executive, Sundar Pichai said the company “is committing to prepare another 10 million people for jobs of the future in the next five years.”

There were 420 million mobile subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2016, equivalent to a penetration rate of 43 percent, according to GSMA Intelligence. The region continues to grow more rapidly than any other, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1 percent through 2020, which is around 50 percent higher than the global average. As for broadband connections, sub-Saharan Africa will reach half a billion by 2020, more than double the number at the end of 2016, and will account for nearly two thirds of total connections in the region.

The Middle East’s youthful population is also driving internet adoption. GGC countries have some of the world’s highest mobile broadband penetration rates, according to Cisco, with the UAE leading the Middle East and Africa at 89 percent, ranking number 11 globally. A study conducted by researcher Ahmad bin Ali Al Amoudi revealed that 91.4 percent of Saudi Arabia’s youth population browse the internet on their mobile phones.

Emphasizing the importance of youth in the UAE, telecom provider du announced the launch of its Youth Council in August 2017, as part of the International Youth Day Celebration across the country. The Council is specifically created to empower UAE youth and enhance their contribution towards the nation’s development through ICT and the enormous potential the sector holds. It’s a platform that will enable youth to “unlock their career potential”.  

The move is aligned with the vision of the UAE’s leadership to empower and enhance the role of young Emiratis in the overall development process that is taking place across all sectors in the country. du said its Youth Council will provide an environment that listens to ideas and ensures that these ideas are brought to the organization, reinforce the role of youth, and support their engagement within the company.

“The UAE leadership has always looked to galvanize Emirati youth through initiatives aimed at developing the next generation of UAE leaders by encouraging their personal and professional development,” said Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du). “At du, we continue to focus on unlocking the potential of our future leaders of tomorrow, and we are looking at new ways to innovate and add value for the next generation of Emirati ICT trailblazers.”

This vision is shared by Smart Dubai, an initiative anchored in the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director-General of the initiative and CEO of Dubai Data, says young generations “are our key towards unlocking this transformation, by bringing their smart innovations and utilizing their technologies.”

Through the internet, he says, students have so much more resources at their fingertips to contribute to the development of their nation than their predecessors. Al Nasser said: “We are only an enabler, by providing youth with all the tools needed to connect their cities. But they are the ones who need to decide what they want next.”

Mobile a key platform for youth

Mobile is a key platform for youth. Mobile broadband, for instance, is more affordable than fixed-broadband services in most developing countries, according to ITU. However, prices can often get in the way of expansion, since mobile broadband prices represent more than 5 percent gross national income (GNI) per capita in the least developed countries and are therefore unaffordable for the large majority of the population.

Nevertheless, sub-Saharan Africa will transition to higher levels of mobile engagement in the coming years, according to GSMA Intelligence, underpinned by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, and particularly because of its youthful population that almost entirely relies on mobile for digital services.

Consequently, mobile has become the preferred platform for creating, distributing and consuming digital content and services, including those that help address various social challenges in the region.

Opportunities in mobile-based innovation are attracting talent and investment to the technology start-up ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA Intelligence says. In fact, some 77 technology start-ups across the region raised just over $366.8 million in funding in 2016, growth of 33 percent compared to the previous year. Mobile operators also play an important role in the movement through collaborative ventures with innovators and tech hubs, providing direct investments.

The region is tempting for technology companies to invest in, with its rapid population growth, and heavy adoption of mobile phones. But countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, which Google plans to target for its mobile developer training, may not offer as much opportunity as the likes of China and India for technology companies.

India has one of the youngest populations in the world, with about 65 percent of its population under the age of 35, according to Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Vijay Goel, who expects that this demographic dividend will provide a great opportunity for the country to revolutionize itself and achieve its vision of a cleaner and more skilled nation. Goel organized the National Youth Festival in January this year under the theme of ‘Youth for Digital India’.

Mobile technologies and services generated 5.2 percent of Asia Pacific’s GDP in 2016, a contribution that amounted to around $1.3 trillion of economic value, GSMA Intelligence indicates. Mobile operators are working to help students and teachers in Asia to integrate mobile technologies into the classroom, the research says, enhancing access to greater learning opportunities for youth in urban hubs and remote locations.

In Myanmar, for instance, a country where only 54 percent of secondary school children are enrolled at school, a public-private venture dubbed Connect To Learn aims to improve access to the internet, deliver teacher training and enable students to experience a 21st century education. Some 21,000 students are expected to benefit in the first two years of the program, of which more than half are girls.

There is a strong link between gender parity in the enrollment ratio in tertiary education and gender parity in internet use according to ITU. The only region where a higher percentage of women than men are using the internet is America, where countries also score highly on gender parity in tertiary education.

Published in Featured

Luxembourg-based satellite company Intelsat recently announced a managed services solution that will provide 2G services in remote locations of Africa.  The solution leverages contributions of services provider BCom and technology provider Newtec for core components of the solution.

IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G is a turnkey package designed for mobile network operators (MNOs) seeking to expand voice services in a simple, cost-efficient manner to remote populations throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The solution includes all satellite, cellular and power components, allowing MNOs to deploy and connect with their subscribers virtually anywhere.

While some countries and regions are transitioning to 4G and even looking at 5G, it is important to remember that 4 billion people throughout the world are without Internet connectivity, Intelsat said in a release.  2G still represents a large amount of existing wireless infrastructure. In Africa, more than 672 million people rely on 2G services, and those networks need to be upgraded and expanded to meet growing connectivity demands throughout the continent, Intelsat claims.

Furthermore, half of the continent is unconnected, resulting in a dire need to provide a connectivity solution to regions not served by current mobile network service territories.  IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G was developed specifically for MNOs to be able to extend their coverage to serve these populations with a cost-effective, easily deployable and efficient cell site that is solar-powered.

The managed service, which will be marketed by Intelsat initially in the sub-Saharan Africa region, integrates satellite services from Intelsat’s globalized network with Newtec’s advanced Newtec Dialog multiservice platform, and BCom’s backhaul terminal solution and network deployment expertise. Through this partnership, IntelsatOne Mobile Reach Solar 2G delivers a product that can be rapidly deployed and is easily scalable to serve regions and populations of all sizes.

“Satellite is fundamental to improving connectivity coverage in rural areas, especially relevant for the African continent,” said Jean-Philippe Gillet, Intelsat’s Vice President and General Manager, Broadband. “Now that smaller, more portable kits can be used with our high power Intelsat Epic platform, connecting those communities will become easier and more cost-effective.

Gillet added, “The experience of implementing HTS (high throughput satellite) into our customers’ networks has affirmed our beliefs about its potential, and in every region, Intelsat is focused on making access to satellite solutions easier than ever for commercial connectivity providers. This is another example of Intelsat Epic expanding the market for satellite-based solutions.”

Patrick Elias, Sales & Operations Director at BCom, a satellite services provider and solution designer, said: “Our goal is to design a solution that is easy to deploy, that fits each community with basic 2G GSM services and cover a larger area or population in a very cost-effective way based on a pay-as-you-grow model. With each community having its own specificity in terms of landscape and population density, the BCom backhaul terminal solution is designed to be flexible, scalable and resilient.”

Published in Satellite Industry

The Vodafone Foundation announced that its ongoing education programs in sub-Saharan Africa will expand to benefit more than five million children who are marginalized and excluded from traditional education.

Vodafone's charitable arm is launching ‘Instant Schools For Africa’ across the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania to provide free access to quality online educational materials.

Children, young people and educators will benefit from free and unlimited access to the ‘Instant Schools for Africa’ online learning materials with zero mobile data charges in order to encourage widespread access to, and use of, the curricula on offer.

The content will also be made available offline to support pupils and educators without access to the internet. A similar Vodafone Foundation initiative in South Africa - Vodacom e-School - is already benefiting 215,000 children.

Developed in conjunction with Learning Equality, the not-for-profit provider of open-source educational technology solutions, the ‘Instant Schools For Africa’ platform will offer global and local educational resources and include subjects such as maths and science, providing millions of children and young people with access to education materials - from primary through to advanced high school level.

The Vodafone Foundation is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to deliver classroom teaching through the Instant Network Schools program, which uses specially-designed online educational resources and tablets to bring primary and high school education to children in refugee camps.

The Vodafone Foundation has a target to reach three million young refugees with the Instant Network Schools program by 2025. Arthur D. Little estimates that the program - already benefitting more than 43,000 young refugees each month - has the potential to improve the living conditions of 80 per cent of young refugees.

Instant Schools for Africa will take the Vodafone Foundation’s educational programs beyond refugee camps to supporting children across Africa, including those who do not attend school. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rate of primary school enrolment globally, with 34 million of the 57 million out-of-school primary age children living in the region.

Cultural norms and remote communities have resulted in out-of-school rates for primary and secondary school being significantly higher for girls in sub-Saharan Africa.  According to UNESCO UIS, 15 million girls of primary school age will never get the chance to learn to read or write in primary school compared with 10 million boys. Nine million of these girls live in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region, the under-five mortality rate is nearly twice as high for mothers with no education as for those who have completed secondary school.

The announcement comes as the Vodafone Foundation has published its Connected Education report, which found that the online educational resources made available through the ‘Instant Schools For Africa’ program could benefit more than 50 million children across Africa, India and Egypt by 2025, as the Vodafone Foundation increases its focus on these activities.

Published in Telecom Operators

Global Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES recently announced that Internet social media giant Facebook has leased capacity on three in-orbit SES satellites to provide WiFi connectivity to sub-Saharan Africa.

In October 2015, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced that the company would be providing web access to Africa from space. At the time, Zuckerberg did not say who would provide the receivers for the satellite signal, but merely that Facebook was going to “work with local partners across these regions to help communities begin accessing internet services provided through satellite.”

Fast-forward to 2016, and SES has been chosen by Facebook to do this. For a long time, Facebook’s Internet.org ambition of providing broadband to rural areas throughout Africa and other poor parts of the world was considered to be a huge opportunity for many global satellite operators.

On a similar note, in October 2015, Facebook also joined forces with French satellite operator Eutelsat to lease, together, the Ka-band payload on Israel-based Spacecom’s Amos-6 satellite. Together, the two companies will provide, in separate marketing efforts, broadband connectivity to 14 countries in Africa.

According to a report by Space News, Amos-6 is scheduled for launch in August this year aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Eutelsat and Facebook have reportedly split the $95 million cost of the Amos-6 Ka-band over 4.5-5 years, which could likely be extended by two more years.

For Eutelsat, the arrangement has proven to be a “steppingstone” for the company’s larger Ka-band satellite, which was ordered in late 2015 and is scheduled for launch in 2019 to cover about 30 African countries. Eutelsat has hinted that Facebook could be a partner for this satellite operation, which could mean that the satellite’s throughput could be doubled to 150 gigabits per second. Since Eutelsat’s announcement, there has been no other significant announcement by Facebook to partner with a satellite company until the news about SES.

According to SES, it will provide an undisclosed amount transponder capacity to Facebook from three of its satellites: Astra 2G at 28.2 east, Astra 2B at 31.4 degrees east, and Astra 4A at 4.8 degrees east. Astra 2G and 4A both have mixed Ku- and Ka-band capacity, while Astra 2B is entirely Ku-band.

SES has said that the contract with Facebook is a “Ku-/Ka- mix with, in our view, long-term potential.” Facebook hasn’t added to this comment or responded to requests for information about the contract volume/duration.

SES has said that Facebook’s business with the Astra satellites would use Petah Tikva, Israel-based Gilat Satellite Networks’ X-Architecture SkyEdge II-c ground terminals. Facebook has always said that its strategy to deliver broadband to rural areas in the developing world would be multi-platform and likely include high-altitude aircraft in addition to satellites.

Speaking about the company’s approach in March at the Satellite 2016 conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Max Kamenetsky, director of connectivity developments for Internet.org said: ““We are not a satellite company. For us, the satellite was an investment where we saw a specific opportunity to deliver services to parts of sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a first step for us to understand this market, which has not been served very well by operators.”

He added that Facebook has been grappling with the issue that satellite and cellular network operators have to face the question of who will pay for connectivity in low-income rural areas where Facebook wants to connect.

“If we were to bring WiFi to community aggregation points, where people are paying between $1 and $3 per month to connect, will people actually use this?” Kamenetsky said.

“In the past, if you talked to mobile operators, the reason they don’t go into these remote areas is because they believe people will not pay for the data. The standard answer you hear is that people do not understand the value of data, they will not use Internet and this is a lost cause. We want to change that.”

Kamenetsky added that he believes broadband infrastructure costs need to drop down “significantly, by orders of magnitude” in order for rural developing markets to flourish with connectivity.

“There’s a whole gamut of technologies that we think can be introduced,” said Kamenetsky. “We have talked about the high-altitude planes, and we are looking at what can be done [with satellites] in LEO, MEO and GEO orbit. At the end of the day, I happen to think it will be a multitude of constellations and a multitude of technologies that will be required.”

Published in Satellite Industry