While doing some research across the internet today, we came across some interesting data published on Google’s Public Data Explorer by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on the 7th of August 2012. This data pretty much is a raw comparison of the percentage of internet users in various countries of the world and how they’ve evolved over time. I specifically picked Ghana, Kenya and South Africa as benchmarks because those are countries that are often compared to Nigeria in terms of growth, development and proximity. Below is the graph from Google:
As can be seen on the graph, South Africa had a pretty early start and slowed down in growth between 2001 and 2009 before they saw a sharp spike in growth again. Nigeria and Kenya caught up with South Africa right about 2007 and the both countries have seen significant growth since then, South Africa catching up with Kenya again in 2009 when they saw their sharp spike in growth and Kenya beating them to it again to see very rapid growth; almost catching up with Nigeria which has seen steady growth since the usage of internet has picked up in 2002 up until now. Much can be said about the usage of the internet in Nigeria especially for negative purposes but as the rest of the world is becoming more sensitized, we are seeing less of the negative use and more people starting to explore the internet as a medium to share thoughts, ideas and to solve everyday problems.
Ghana has seen steady growth in the percentage usage since its initial traction in 2002 as well but not nearly as fast as Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa. They also experienced a spike in growth right about 2009. A quick query on the internet shows that the SEACOM submarine cable which serves South and Eastern Africa from Europe and Southern Asia was launched in July 2009. The spike in growth of internet usage we saw in Kenya and South Africa in 2009 could be attributed to the extra capacity that the submarine cable introduced to that region although we do not have substantial data to prove that. The EASSy submarine cable which serves a few east and north African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan and South Africa among others was launched in 2010 to carry predominantly voice traffic within the region but definitely carries data traffic and terminates at countries that have landing points for other submarine cable systems like TEAMs, EIG, I-ME-WE and SEA-ME-WE among others. That is evidently the reason behind internet usage spiking so fast in Kenya to almost catch up with Nigeria, again, just an experimental assumption. The same can be said about South Africa. Between now and 2014, the oceanscape around Africa is going to look like this:
With West Africa now getting a generous bit of that bandwidth attention. Telecom providers are currently building the infrastructure to spread this bandwidth generously within Nigeria and the rest of sub-saharan Africa with next-generation wireless mobile technologies and fibre optic backbones. The future is bright folks. Think, possibilities around an outsourcing industry which is virtually non-existent at the moment and the awesome value our talented populace has to offer to the rest of the world. There are a lot of opportunities to harness in the digital age if we can surmount our current political and basic infrastructural challenges such as electricity. The world is betting on us. I hope our leaders are paying attention.