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The Problems Holding Back Africa’s Robust Adoption of the Internet

Despite experiencing substantial growth in internet users in the last decade, Zimbabwe, a country of 14.7 million, still suffers from underutilized mobile internet capacity and low smartphone penetration, according to the latest annual report from the country’s largest telecommunications provider, Econet Wireless. The report offers some fresh insight into the problems holding back the robust adoption of the internet in Africa, from power outages, to overzealous government regulation, to the fact that cheap social media bundles still account for a significant percentage of internet connectivity. The number of mobile phone users in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to reach half a billion this year, up from a subscriber base of 477 million in 2019, according to GSMA, an umbrella organization representing mobile operators globally. But that still accounts for just 45% of the region’s population—and less than 60% of those phone users have access to mobile internet.