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African Internet Capacity Growth Fuels Local Economy

Overall worldwide international Internet capacity growth continues to slow, falling from 41 percent in 2011 to 31 percent in 2015. However, even with the declining pace of growth, backbone telecom network operators deployed 43 Tbps of new capacity in the past year alone.

According to the latest global market study by TeleGeography, new growth in international Internet capacity connected to Africa continues to outpace that of any other region. Internet access continues to drive local economic development across the African continent.

African Internet bandwidth grew 41 percent between 2014 and 2015, and 51 percent compounded annually over the last five years, to reach 2.9 Tbps.

Oceania saw the second fastest growth rate of 47 percent per year between 2011 and 2015 to reach 2.1 Tbps, and capacity in Latin America and the Middle East grew 44 percent per year to 20.6 Tbps and 8.4 Tbps, respectively.

While international Internet capacity in each of these regions has doubled every two years over the period, growth in Europe and the U.S. and Canada was far slower, at 33 percent compounded annually.


Despite the varying pace of new deployments, Internet capacity growth has slowed in all regions over the past five years. This trend has been especially apparent in Africa.

Even though the continent recording strong capacity growth between 2011 and 2015, it was a far cry from the 93 percent compound annual growth rate seen between 2006 and 2010.

Furthermore, while North African and Sub-Saharan African international Internet bandwidth increased more than 90 percent compounded annually between 2006 and 2010, growth rates among the subregions have varied substantially in recent years.

Between 2011 and 2015, Internet bandwidth connected to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa rose at a much faster clip than that connected to North African countries, growing 66 and 43 percent per year, respectively.

New undersea cable builds on the east and west coasts of Africa, including ACE, SEACOM, EASSy, WACS, and others, along with new terrestrial networks, have greatly increased available capacity in the Sub-Saharan region.

Meanwhile, more multimedia content hosting is moving to Africa as content delivery network (CDN) services emerge and Google Global Cache servers are installed, tempering demand for long-haul capacity.

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