Africa lags far behind in every front of ICT indicators, according to the latest report of ITU. Subsequently a recent study of Analysis Mason said, “Every African country has international fibre connectivity, but lack of competition at the national level is keeping prices high.”
The study has detected that 35 of the 48 Sub-Saharan countries have no competition among national fiber providers. Eight have limited competition – that is, two providers besides the mobile companies, usually the incumbent fixed-line operator and either the government or the electricity transmission company.
Only five countries (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe) can be said to have effective competition among multiple players. In countries that lack effective competition, fibre connectivity in cities that are far removed from submarine cable landing stations often costs five or six times as much as it does at the landing station.
The report hits bull’s-eye when it says the following:
Uptime is a major issue on terrestrial fibre networks in Africa. Common problems that lead to availability being much lower than in more-developed regions include:
- fibre not being buried deep enough (resulting in frequent physical damage, both accidental and deliberate)
- poor quality splicing (which reduces the throughput and can result in intermittent faults)
- poor maintenance of manholes (which can lead to flooding and cable damage)
- poor systems and processes for fault management (there are even anecdotal accounts of maintenance companies deliberately sabotaging cables to create work for themselves).
Overhead lines can also be damaged by vehicles hitting the support poles, trees falling on the cables, wildlife (particularly monkeys) and vandalism. Lines carried on high-tension electricity pylons are generally more reliable because the cables are carried high in the air, the pylons are generally situated away from roads and the proximity of high-voltage power lines discourages vandals.
Download the full report of Analysis Mason.