In Middle East and N. Africa, the broadband gap is gaping

In Middle East and N. Africa, the broadband gap is gaping

New report cites lack of competition, challenges to affordability. Unleashing dark fiber may help.

Image by World Bank











Lack of effective competition and lack of appropriate regulation are two serious impediments to wider broadband availability and adoption in Africa and the Arab world, write the authors of this February 2014 report published by The World Bank.

Download Broadband Networks in MENA: Accelerating High-Speed Internet Access

Among findings:

  • The region is lagging. High-speed Internet penetration is low in the region, compared with emerging regions in Europe and Asia.
  • The price is high. “Millions of people cannot afford internet services and are therefore excluded from the information revolution that is shaping the modern world,” the report states. One chilling example: In Yemen, the poorest 40 percent of the population would need to spend over half of their income for mobile high speed Internet.
  • Potential is there. Untapped fiber optic networks could be a key to extending the reach of broadband, particularly in rural areas.
  • Things can get better. Among recommendations are boosting local competition between different telecom service providers and encouraging public-private partnerships.