The second roundtable of the conference is entitled “Africa: The Impact of an Unprecedented Wave of Investment.” It's moderated by Yves Ruggeri, of France Telecom Orange. Participants include Funke Opeke, of Main One, Angelique Weeks, of Liberian Regulator, Nzioka Waita, of Safaricom, and Antonio Nunes, of Angola Cables.
“I think there's been a lot of price movement,” Opeke says. There has been significant expansion of capacity in the market. Prices to distribute the capacity is still quite high due to the infrastructure issues in the area.
According to Waita, there is a discrepancy in price for terrestrial lines. In some cases the cost for a far greater distance may be cheaper than closer areas.
“In Africa.. you have diversity. You have differences in the country… what has happened, with the help of the ITU and EEC, there have been regional regulations that have been crafted,” says Weeks. These regulations serve as guidelines that can be used for pricing.
“Anyone thinking there's too much bandwidth in Africa is not right. There are a billion people. nine out of 10 Africans will experience the internet on their mobile phones,” Waita says. He explains that bandwidth in Africa means education and improvements. “I think there's a lot of opportunity for anyone who wants to do business.”
“We have been giving capacity to the main cities,” says Nunes. He says that his company is trying to help build the business in the area.
Weeks asks the question “how much is the private sector willing to invest without a clear return?” Capacity can get to the more isolated areas, but it requires the wireless option. “We can get it out there. It's imperative. How fast is the question.”
“Primary access for most citizens today is via mobile phone… In terms of real internet access, penetration rates in Nigeria is still 10%,” says Opeke. She says this shows a large amount of room to grow.