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Pop Quiz: What Percentage of Tanzanians Are Online?

By Wayan Vota on April 23, 2012

tanzania-internet-access.jpg

There is nonstop news and buzz around new fiber optic cables circling Africa, the explosive growth of mobile phones, and Facebook’s domination of social media. But before you get too caught up in the hype, check this startling statistic from iHub Research:

Only 2.5% of Tanzania’s population has access to the Internet

Wow! Just wow! It is hard to believe that number with the huge investments in national fiber optic grids and all the controversy around them.

And before you say “what about mobile data access?”, the iHub Research number includes people who access Internet data via their mobile phone (80% of that 2.5%). Shocked? Then check this mobile data coverage map and note that 3G is as rare as fiber backbones.

So take a deep breath and realize that getting Africa online is still a huge challenge – and opportunity!

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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4 Comments to “Pop Quiz: What Percentage of Tanzanians Are Online?”

  1. John Hawker says:

    Interesting, predictable and sad,

    When I was working with a start a years ago to try and build a Nex Gen Internet Satellite over Africa, the type that Australia is now building TWO of, that the USA has built TWO and has TWO more on line, these first world countries, use these next gen Satellites to bring low cost internet to remote and rural areas, I was told repeatedly,

    AFRICA DOESN’T NEED THESE SATELLITES!

    “3G, LTE, 4G will bring us all the Internet we need” / Satellite is Old Technology / It will be too expensive”

    Of course, you have to wonder why rich first world countries would use something so expensive to reach their rural and remote areas . . .

    My suspicion is of course that the people making the most of that noise are those threatened the most, were trying to protect their fiefdoms,

    There is so little access across Africa frankly, that ALL SOLUTIONS of access to Internet should be encouraged, VSAT and Nex Gen Satellite, WiMax, 3G, LTE, GPON, whatever the best solution is for that place and time, and including Tin Cans and String.

    However, it’s obvious those that have so much vested interest, sadly have the loudest voices, drowning out the viably alternatives.

    And we’re left with these sad statistics.

    Tin can anyone?

  2. Stéphane Bruno says:

    Hi,

    It is a detail, but this is 79% of the 2.5% that have access to the Internet from their mobile phones, not 80% :-). Do you have a sense of the price if Internet access? I it more if a luxury, or is it rather affordable? What is the unemployment rate of Tanzania?

    Accessibility to the Internet depends on whether the service is available, affordable and people have revenues to pay for it.

  3. Stéphane Bruno says:

    Is there any public policies that support the above beyond just laying down fiber? (Sorry for the typos in my previous post; was typing from phone :))

  4. Tim Denny says:

    Stephane – http://www.tzcrc.org/wp/?p=58 reports the cheapest price of about 4.9 TSH/mb at 15K shilling/month or $10USD for 5gb cap hard to find the average monthly salary but what I see online my guess is around 100,000 shillings month or about $70/month minimum wage…