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Why Advances in Providing Internet Access to People in Africa are Worth Celebrating

About 66% of people in southern Africa are internet users. In east Africa the figure is 26%; it is just 24% in central Africa. People in rural areas have far less access than those in the continent’s urban areas. In January 2023, the US company SpaceX, which manufactures and launches spacecraft and communication satellites, announced that its Starlink service was available in Nigeria. This was a first for the continent. It has also since become available in Rwanda. Starlink is a satellite-based internet service. It is set to be rolled out elsewhere on the continent, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya and Tanzania, later this year. More coverage is to come in 2024. This could be an important way to fill Africa’s connectivity gaps, which have arisen because of poor digital infrastructure and the high costs of investing in fibre optic cables or mobile phone masts, particularly in rural and remote areas. The United Nations has a strategy for reaching universal access across Africa by 2030, but this won’t be possible without innovative approaches.