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Zambia connectivity fees remain highest in Africa

Unlike other countries in Africa including Kenya , where the cost of Internet connectivity is falling sharply, Zambia 's connection fees have remained high and are impacting the country's economy, despite competition among ISPs and efforts to promote local content

Google products manager for sub-Saharan Africa , Divon Lan, recently told local media that the country has the highest Internet connectivity costs in the world, and that they are embedded in the high cost of bandwidth for end users. Recent studies have also shown that Zambian Internet connectivity can cost as high as US$6,000 per megabyte -- double the cost in other African countries.

Google is planning to introduce Zambian languages, including Bemba and Nyanja, on the Internet, claiming the Web is a force for societal change as it provides access to information without barriers. Lan, who is based in Israel , said Google wants to promote ICT in Zambia .

Due to the high cost of Internet connectivity, Lan said access has been restricted to the capital, Lusaka , and other urban areas. Other than mobile commerce services being provided cheaply by mobile service providers, very few Zambians are able to do online transactions because of the high cost of access.

Last year, Google released map information for Zambia for the first time on and is now trying to find ways of making the search engine more relevant to local consumers by integrating Zambia 's local languages.

Milner Makuni, the past president of the Computer Society of Zambia, said that despite Zambia having 14 ISPs competing for business, the connectivity costs have not declined significantly. This is mainly because Zambia has been relying on satellite for Internet connectivity, Makuni said. Secondly, the cost of bandwidth from the undersea cables running under the India Ocean is still very high.

"But I think very soon we will see a reduction in Internet connectivity because Zamnet, Zesco and Zamtel have now connected to the international undersea cables," Makuni said in an interview.

Zambia also has an agreement with the East Africa Submarine Cable System to get cheaper bandwidth from the cable once it becomes operational in June this year.

Source: Info World


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