Africa telecoms summit to promote Internet access

[Reuters AlertNet] A U.N.-backed Africa communications summit, “Connect Africa”, in Rwanda in late October, will seek to boost high-speed Internet access to match the continent’s explosive growth in mobile phones, officials said on Wednesday.The Oct. 29-30 “Connect Africa” gathering of African political leaders and international investors in the Rwandan capital Kigali will be a networking opportunity, not a forum for negotiating new regulations, they said.But government leaders will come under pressure to do away with inefficient state monopolies in telecommunications, Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, told a news conference.In Africa, mobile phones overtook fixed lines six years ago and now outnumber them nearly five to one, with 137.2 million subscribers in 2005, the ITU says. In sub-Saharan Africa, nine out of every 10 telephone subscribers are using a mobile.But the shortage of fixed lines has limited Internet access, enjoyed by fewer than four out of every 100 Africans. According to ITU figures, Africa’s average monthly price for broadband is $762 per month, more than three times the cost in Asia and way out of reach of most Africans.

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