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Community networks a potential key to filling connectivity gaps in Africa

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Internet Society’s third Africa Community Networks Summit kicks off this week (3rd September to 7th September) in the Eastern Cape, with the event aimed at looking how community networks and network operators within the region can enhance collaboration.

While 450 million people across Africa are connected to the internet, 60 percent of the continent still remain without access.

This is a worryingly high number, considering how some regions of the continent are eagerly awaiting 5G while others sit without any noticeable connectivity.

A potential solution for addressing that 60 percent could be community networks, according to Internet Society, with the non-profit organisation identifying 37 community networks across 12 African countries in a recent survey.

“Enabling communities to actually connect themselves is a new way of thinking,” explains Michuki Mwangi, senior development manager for Africa at the Internet Society.

“Policy makers and regulators should recognise that connectivity can be instigated from a village or a town and that they can help communities to connect themselves by providing an enabling environment with innovative licensing and access to spectrum,” he adds.

Participants from 13 countries on the continent, including Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, DRC, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, will be attending the Summit.

Along with discussions about how local connectivity gaps can be addressed, topics covered during the Summit will also look at improving the delivery of basic services, as well as policy and regulation creation.

The Summit will conclude with a visit to communities serviced by Zenzeleni Networks, which is the country’s first telecoms organisation owned and run by a rural cooperative.

Hopefully the Summit proves fruitful in tackling some of the connectivity issues plaguing South Africa and other countries on the region.


[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.