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  • Africa and the mobile phone: it's not all good news


Thanks to the mobile phone, telecommunications is the leading area of infrastructure in Africa, but the mobile's success has caused other problems.

Between 2000 and 2005, the number of mobile phone lines in Africa rose from 15.6 to 135 million, according to the Geneva-based International Telecommunication Union.

Mobile users account for 83 per cent of Africa's telephone subscribers, a higher proportion than any other region in the world, reports David White in the Financial Times.

However, this statistic highlights the crippled state of Africa's landlines and therefore its Internet services. Projects such as a planned submarine fibre-optic cable down the coast of East Africa are suffering delays.

Mobile network coverage in Africa, averaged at 15 per cent, is still the lowest in the world, varying from 72 per cent in South Africa to one per cent in Eritrea, and expansion is expected to be slow.

Olivier Picard, executive vice-president at French-based telecom group Alcatel, says further expansion will rely on mobile operators' ability to use new technologies to provide cheap wireless broadband.

Link to the full article in the Financial Times

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