Africa targets 50 percent Internet access by 2025

Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank Daniel Mminele said 50 percent of the African continent could expect to have access to the Internet by 2025.

The figure might seem insignificant, but in the greater scheme of things it signifies unprecedented growth for the region. At this juncture, just 28.7 percent of Africans have access to the Internet.

An area that will most certainly benefit from that kind of change is the online shopping sector, which is expected to account for 10 percent of retail sales when that internet expansion becomes a reality.

Mminele said this amounted to 75 billion US dollars.

“With the magnified impact of mobile phones in emerging economies and broader Internet penetration, McKinsey project that the Internet could contribute as much as 10 per cent of GDP to the African economy by 2025, from levels of around one per cent currently,” Mminele told delegates at the T-20 Africa Conference this week.

At this juncture, these are still projections or predictions though, and Mminele highlighted the importance of Africans rolling up their sleeves and doing the work required to make this a reality.

“For these projections to be realised, there needs to be increased investment in infrastructure, such as expanded access to mobile broadband, fibreoptic cable connections to households, and power-supply expansion,” said Mminele.

“Infrastructure challenges are wider than just ‘bricks and mortar’ – for example, the lack of a formal delivery address complicates the logistics and is costly for online retailers,” he said.

“Although digital opportunities are encouraging, especially in the financial sector, numerous regulatory challenges need to be addressed, relating specifically to the development of an innovative and enabling policy environment for financial technology while at the same time managing the risks to consumers and the financial systems.