Telecoms operators told to find ways to satisfy data-hungry customers in Africa

DataThe hunger for data around the world is growing, and populations in Africa are also demanding and using high volumes of data as the information highway grows.

The need therefore for telecoms operators to find smart ways to meet this need for data has become necessary.

According to a press release from Aurecon, data consumption continues to grow at an incredible pace globally.

“Over 90% of all the data in the world was created in the past two years, and the total amount of data being captured and stored by industry doubles almost year on year. It is expected that by 2020, the amount of digital information in existence will have grown from 3.2 zettabytes today to 40 zettabytes,” it says, adding, “every minute we send 204 million emails, generate 1.8 million Facebook likes, send 278 thousand Tweets and up-load 200 thousand photos to Facebook.”

Cellular phones are now more accessible to the general population, with 17.9% of rural households in South Africa alone accessing the internet from mobile devices and 30.8% of South African households using mobile devices to access the internet, according to Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey report published in June 2014.

And sub-Saharan Africa’s population is rising faster than the rest of the world (Population Reference Bureau predicts that Africa’s population will double to 2.4 billion by 2050).

Commenting, Peter Greaves, Aurecon’s Expertise leader for Data & ICT Facilities says: “The impact of this is that telecom operators will have to find better, smarter ways to serve a data-hungry population throughout Africa.”

“Corporations and governments are also becoming aware of the increased need for data centres and the fact that outsourcing these services allows them to focus on their core activities. Concerns about unreliable power and inadequate security can similarly be delegated to a dedicated third party that will guarantee the required uptime and data integrity,” he adds.

Meanwhile, the drift towards data from voice services from telecoms operators was predicted about four years ago.

Ahmad Farouk, a telecoms industry executive made the prediction at the West & Central Africa Com, telecoms conference in Dakar, Senegal in June 2011.

In an exclusive interview with, he emphasised that, his prediction was based on the realities on the ground.

“The world is moving this way basically,” he said.

Asked if this was his opinion, he responded, “my opinion is based on what is going on in the world right now.”

“The youth are not interested in talking to each other any more. They are interested in Facebook , Twitter, and music,” he said.

Companies would have to derive their revenue from something different, like content, multimedia, advertising and so on, he said.

The telecoms executive believes that consumers would drive the trend. “It is what consumers want,” he said.

Farouk pointed out that “The lifestyle of consumers would determine the trend, and for mobile companies not to be left behind, they have to provide these services to remain in business.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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