Operators have as yet been unable to provide access to broadband at the right price in Africa, meaning penetration on the continent is still low, according to the Head of Engagement Practices at Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa.
Pieter van der Westhuizen told AfricaCom 2012 in Cape Town the industry was lagging behind in Africa when it comes to serving the market with broadband.
“The broadband penetration across Africa at this stage is still very low,” he said. “Why is it so that we have only managed to offer broadband to two percent? As an industry we have not been able to provide the right service at the right price.”
Recent figures from ComputerLab showed that consumers are most concerned with coverage, speed and price when it comes to picking a broadband provider. 54 percent of people were most concerned with coverage, with 51 percent and 47 percent more concerned by speed and price respectively.
“The problem for providing broadband is no longer about the apps but about making networks and the platforms for consuming these apps at the right price,” said van der Westhuizen. “Building the right network with the right capabilities is very important to customer experience. Then making it available at the right price.”
He suggested more innovative pricing models were needed in order to appeal to the needs of consumers. He called for value-based and tiered approaches to pricing, with the latter “able to serve the market in a much sharper way. It has allowed operators to capitalise on investments and serve the low-end user.”
He also urged Africa governments to make greater broadband penetration a priority, with greater assistance to operators central to meeting this goal.
“It should be a national imperative for a country to stimulate the broadband market and make everything available to operators to stimulate the market,” he said. “It is important that we make this bigger and stronger and coordinate across Africa in a tighter way.
“It is the role of the regulator to ensure that operators in Africa can access global technologies. The most cost efficient way of providing high speed mobile broadband would be to leverage the mobile Internet infrastructure already built.”