People in developing nations pay, on average, a full month’s wages for broadband.  Compare that with just 1.5 percent of monthly income in developing countries.  That is one reason that only 40 percent of the world’s people are online.

This lack of connectivity translates, in ways large and small, into lack of progress.  For every 10 percent increase in broadband penetration, the OECD has documented a 0.9 to 1.5 percent increase in the growth of gross domestic product (GDP).  Repeat that kind of additional growth year after year and the impact on standards of living can be stunning.  According to McKinsey, if the Internet were an industrial sector, it would already be bigger than agriculture or energy.

How does broadband lead to higher growth?

It makes business, institutions and government more productive – meaning they can do more with the same resources because of the knowledge, interchange and transactions that broadband makes possible.

It also makes people more productive by equipping them with knowledge and skills. Nowhere is this more dramatically illustrated than in school. Students and teachers using broadband have access to the near-infinite information resources of the Web, from Kahn Academy mathematics lessons to online history lessons and current world news.

In countries with well-developed communications infrastructure, that is just a matter of budgeting money to buy services and technology.  In most developing nations, however it is a matter of creating infrastructure reaching tens of thousands of individual locations. From Africa and Asia to Latin America, that is a job for satellite.

To sustain socio-economic growth and development, people need to be connected. This is important to communities based in remote regions, and to individuals, businesses, NGOs and governments in growing metropolitan cities. And, with Africa home to three of the fastest growing economics in the world, the need to support on the rapid deployment of connectivity is even more essential.

There are predictions that, as optical fiber submarine cables connect more and more developing nations to the Internet, they will replace the satellite links that are driving educational progress.  That ignores the enormous challenge of getting terrestrial connections from coastal cable landing stations into the interior.  In 2012, some 518 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lived beyond a 250-kilometer range of a terrestrial fiber network.  That is greater than the population of the European Union.  For years to come, the 60 percent of the world’s citizens who have yet to go online will be looking to the skies for help as they strive to claim their share of global economic growth.

One such technology that is driving growth across the African digital economy is satellite communication. Since African satellite communication services were introduced over a decade ago, they have been responsible for numerous economical and societal benefits across schools, medical centers, commerce and banking in addition to many other sectors.

In fact, there is a significant correlation between investment in satellite broadband connectivity and the growth in economic activity. According to World Bank research for every 10 per cent increase in broadband connectivity, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of developing nations rises by 1.38 per cent. It is therefore safe to say that the socio-economic development of developing countries can greatly improve with inclusive access to communication networks.



Article by: Busayo Tomoh

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