Facebook's connectivity initiatives in Africa to deliver $57B

How Facebook aims to deliver $57b in economic benefits in Africa by 2024 through connectivity investments.

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Over 800 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are yet to be connected to the internet meaning that only about 20 percent of the population have access to or use the internet. This is despite the internet being an important driver of economic and social development in the world. Access to the internet enables people all over the world to better communicate, engage in trade, work, learn, and participate in everyday activities. The internet also allows people to access information, services and content from anywhere in the world. Just a few decades ago, there was no way that businesses, individuals, friends and strangers alike would have been connected in such a way as is happening now.

These connections are possible through a web of networks that make it possible for information to flow from distant sources to a local village and back. However, these connections have not been easily accessible to the average African in the continent. Fortunately, this is rapidly changing as more and more players start contributing to connecting African countries to each other and the rest of the world.

Notable is the projected $57 billion of economic benefits that the continent is slated to enjoy in the next five years through investments in connectivity by American social media giant Facebook. According to a report by Analysys Mason, Facebook is helping to connect millions of Africans by investing in infrastructure that supports internet connectivity, and backing mobile service providers through facilitation initiatives. 

Barriers preventing access to internet

Compared to other regions in the world, Sub-Saharan Africa has relatively limited infrastructure needed to offer reliable connectivity. Internet access is further inhibited by the high prices that internet service providers attach to their products. Many people in Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from a lack of physical network coverage. In Africa, there is no widely developed and fixed broadband network. This means that mobile networks are the main means that people connect to the internet. Yet, only 9 percent of people have proper access, with 20 percent suffering from weak, expensive, limited 2G services.

Facebook's connectivity initiatives aim to solve most of these problems. The social media platform is providing technical and financial inputs that make these connectivity infrastructures cheaper and easier to deploy. This is in line with its mission “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”.

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