African countries to save on cost of internet via bulk-purchase plan

African countries to save on cost of internet via bulk-purchase plan

African nations are uniting to buy data capacity in bulk with the aim of halving the cost of internet access. The plan was agreed this week at a meeting of the Smart Africa Alliance, chaired by Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda.

The Smart Africa Alliance said it will launch its bulk purchasing project for data capacities in 2021. Lacina Koné (pictured), CEO of Smart Africa, said: “We look forward to transforming Africa into a single digital market together.”

Didier Nkurikiyimfura, director of technology and innovation at Smart Africa, said: “The cost of the internet in Africa is very expensive, so we are really aiming to reduce it by 50%. This will help people and countries to achieve better connectivity, launch products and services online and be able to achieve a knowledge-based economy.”

According to the Ecofin news agency, this will be done via a special entity that will be created for the purpose. It will work with a consortium of companies bringing together internet service providers and major telcos.

Capacities purchased in bulk on telecommunications infrastructure from connectivity providers will be resold at affordable prices in the member countries of the Smart Africa Alliance, said Ecofin.

Kagame said: “I want to emphasise how important the partnership with the private sector is for Smart Africa. We place a high value on what business leaders bring to these efforts.”

Nkurikiyimfura said that the project “will start with seven to ten countries as the first phase. We will work with a consortium of companies such as internet operators and telecommunications operators.”

The Smart Africa Alliance has 31 countries, with Mauritania becoming the latest member, joining 30 from Algeria to South Africa and Sierra Leone to Djibouti, with a total population of 750 million. The alliance has not announced the countries that will start the bulk purchase project.

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