40% of Sub-Saharan Africa Faces Digital Divide

Satellite communications has a crucial role to play in helping to bridge the digital divide which currently disenfranchises large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new socio-economic report launched by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

The report, which is sponsored by Avanti Communications, states that the vast majority of Sub-Saharan Africa is falling behind the rest of the world in terms of broadband connectivity because of limited supply and very high prices. The report also highlights that broadband should not just be viewed as a consequence of economic growth, but as a driver.  Research demonstrates that a 10% increase in broadband penetration yields economic growth of 1.38%, nearly twice the impact of the same increase in fixed line telephony.

However, the CTO concludes that despite the growth of fibre optic submarine cables and terrestrial networks, 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa will be unable to access broadband services unless there is greater use of satellites as a complementary technology.

African Information Communication Technologies Ministers set a target of 80% broadband penetration by 2020 at the ICT Indaba held in Cape Town in June 2012.  However, there will be significant challenges in achieving that goal.  Currently 341 million people live beyond the reach of fibre based broadband network and the CTO report highlights the essential role of satellite based broadband services in closing this gap.

In its report recommendations, the CTO urges African governments and institutions to adjust policies and regulations to more accurately recognise the role that satellites can play in delivering cost-effective broadband access and concomitant economic growth.

The CTO’s CEO, Professor Tim Unwin, said: “The latest generation of Ka-band satellites will be able to provide a far more cost effective solution than the existing C-band and Ku-band.  This dispels the idea that satellite is just too expensive, but in fact provides a complementary technology to fibre and mobile in enabling broadband access across Africa.”

David Williams, Chief Executive of Avanti Communications, said:  “We are delighted by the findings of the CTO report; it provides further evidence for the role of satellite broadband in reaching beyond the bounds of terrestrial and wireless networks. Avanti’s new Ka-band HYLAS 2 satellite will provide high-speed broadband to businesses, communities and government at lower price points than that of the current satellite services deployed in Africa.

“If the world is to keep pace with demand of technology – particularly in high growth markets –  then satellites have a huge role to play. Governments across the world are seeing the wide scale potential and cost-effectiveness of using satellite for economic and social development as well as for other areas including defence and security. Satellites are bringing services to a range of diverse scenarios and locations.  The most exciting thing about our role in the industry is that our technology delivers a catalyst which can change the lives of millions of people.”


For further information on Avanti please contact:

Tulchan Communications LLP
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7353 4200
James Macey White

About Avanti

  • Avanti sells satellite data communications services to telecoms companies which use them to supply residential, enterprise and institutional users.
  • Avanti's first satellite called HYLAS 1, launched on November 26th 2010 and is the first superfast broadband satellite launched in Europe.
  • Avanti's second satellite, called HYLAS 2, launched on August 2nd 2012. It extends Avanti's coverage to Africa, the Caucasus and the Middle East.
  • Avanti’s third satellite HYLAS 3, to be launched in partnership with ESA, will provide further capacity in the EMEA region
  • Over 80% of Avanti’s fleet capacity will address the high growth telecommunications markets of Africa, the Caucasus and the Middle East.


For more information about CTO please contact:

Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
+44 (0) 20 8600 3812
Email: s.srinivasan@cto.int
Web: www.cto.int
Srini Srinivasan, Senior Communications Officer

About the CTO

The CTO is the oldest and largest Commonwealth organisation engaged in multilateral collaboration in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). It uses its experience and expertise to support members in integrating ICTs to deliver effective development interventions that enrich, empower, and emancipate people within the Commonwealth and beyond.

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