Africa needs at least another 300,000 kms of metro and interurban fibre to extend 4G coverage and be ready for 5G, according to “The Future of African Fibre Networks”, a new report by Xalam Analytics. For the past two decades, the availability of affordable terrestrial fibre capacity has been one of the most vexing obstacles to the development of the African Internet. Things are changing, according to the report. Among other findings, the research notes that:
Sub-Saharan Africa – Terrestrial Fibre Base – 2013-20F
Source: Xalam Analytics estimates
The nature of the African terrestrial fibre market is evolving, moving from a phase of terrestrial fibre scarcity, with its focus on mobile operator self-provisioning, to an era of more open, more competitive fibre markets where independent fibre companies proliferate. Today, private, wholesale-focused fibrecos account for 50% of all wholesale providers (up from ~30% in 2010), a rise that has fundamentally altered the nature of the African terrestrial fibre market.
As more countries deploy backbones, the fibre bottleneck is resolutely shifting towards metro networks. We estimate that around 70%-75% of the fibre laid out in SSA over the past five years was laid out in the interurban segment. In effect, African metros are not fiberized enough; we estimate that fewer than 20% of Africa’s metros with at least 250,000 inhabitants are served by an open access metro fibre ring.
Please hover over the map for additional detail. Sources: Government data, Xalam Analytics research.