Social media giant, Facebook, is to boost Africa’s economy by $57 billion in the next five years, an impact study has revealed. In the report of the study conducted by Analysys Mason, Facebook’s investments in infrastructure and connectivity across the region are forecast to deliver the economic benefits between 2020 and 2024.
The report highlights some of Facebook’s infrastructure investments and connectivity initiatives, which include the building of submarine cables. This is expected to increase the supply of international bandwidth in the continent, and reduce costs for Internet Service Providers (ISPs), thus lowering prices for users.
Facebook has invested in cables such as 2Africa cable, one of the largest Subsea cable projects in the world, which will circle the African continent, landing in 16 African countries. The cable is expected to triple the capacity currently provided by all the subsea cables serving Africa today further supporting the growth of 4G, 5G, and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.
The report notes that through Facebook’s Edge networks, which allows ISPs and MNOs to access content on Facebook’s platform closer to their networks, “70 per cent of Facebook traffic in SSA is now served from within the region and investments in edge network and international capacity together will enable Internet traffic to increase by 9 per cent by 2024 and generate an increase of GDP of USD53 billion over five years”.
“Facebook’s investment in Open Transport Networks (OTNx) has seen it deploy 770 kilometers of fiber in Uganda in partnership with operator BCS and Airtel and 750-800 kilometers in Nigeria with infrastructure provider MainOne which has enabled an extension of 3G/4G coverage to over 4 million people.
“A further 100 kilometers of fiber haul has been deployed in South Africa for Wi-Fi in partnership with operator Vast. An estimated 700,000 people in Uganda and 300,000 people in Nigeria got online earlier than they would have without the OTNx investments, producing an economic impact of almost USD4 billion between 2020 and 2024,” the report states.
Facebook has also deployed Express Wi-Fi solutions across SSA enabling local ISPs and operators to establish low-cost access networks. The solutions which are currently available in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania are reported to be helping in bringing more people online and stimulate data usage and Internet traffic overall.
“Some of the economic benefits include the enhancement of operators’ ability to extend the coverage of broad networks, thus enabling more people to go online.
“These increases in take-up and internet traffic mean that people are more able to interact with each other, trade online, and perform online transactions. All these activities create benefits for individuals and wider economic and social benefits through improved health and welfare outcomes, skills and education, job creation, and productivity, the report states.
Commenting on the report, Facebook’s Africa Public Policy Director, Kojo Boakye, said: “At Facebook, we’re committed to Africa and the role that we can play in improving the continent's global competitiveness. Over the last three years, we’ve heavily invested in infrastructure and connectivity initiatives that aim to affordably connect people on this continent and create tangible social-economic benefits. These efforts are part of a complex solution that requires all stakeholders - including mobile operators, infrastructure providers, and governments - to work together for the common good. We are only 1 per cent finished and remain committed to this exciting journey and working with all our partners along the way.”