SADC not bridging digital divide

  • Despite a regional infrastructure policy aimed at establishing affordable , always-on Internet availability in the region, low levels of internet access persist across SADC countries.
  • The Seychelles leads internet penetration in the region at 56.5% while Madagascar trails at 4.2% according to ITU statistics.
  •  Seychelles, together with Zimbabwe and Swaziland are the most expensive countries for 1GB of prepaid mobile data in the region.
  • Demand-side challenges such as literacy, affordability, and poor coverage are some of the obstacles to internet uptake.
  • There is a need for demand- and supply-side evidence to determine the best response to challenges faced in the region.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are recognised by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states as enablers of stronger economic development. Yet, these countries are still grappling with slow and unreliable broadband access even after the deployment of undersea fibre cables. The SADC Declaration on Information and Communication Technologies (2001) evokes member states prioritise rural and remote areas, underprivileged urban areas, institutions of learning and other communities of special benefit, as a way of bridging the digital divide. Despite this regional infrastructure policy aimed at establishing affordable, always-on Internet availability in the region, a large portion of SADC residents still do not have access to the Internet.

Download the complete Policy brief No. 6