Gabon has made great strides in the field of ICT through the ambitious structural transformation program of the national economy called the “Emerging Gabon” Strategic Plan which aims to make this Central African country a regional hub for excellence in several areas, including digital services.
To achieve this, the country has embarked on ambitious projects to create the conditions for a digital economy. This is the whole point of the CAB (Central African Backbone) sub-regional fiber network program, funded by the World Bank. It aims to connect the country to the ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) submarine cable connecting the West African coast to Europe, in order to distribute this broadband capacity using terrestrial fiber optic cables.
This program, costing $ 700 million, also concerns the interconnection of the countries of the sub-region, with the opening of the Gabon-Congo network expected for 2016. Pending the completion of this project, Gabon , which has four telecom operators, has granted 3G and 4G licenses to Airtel and Gabon Télécom.
Above the continental average
As a symbol, the recent designation of Gabon internet eXchange (Gab-IX) as Regional Internet exchange point (RIXP) of Central Africa will allow the exchange of inter-African data from the platform installed in Gabon, at the heart of digital infrastructure under construction. Gab-IX will above all contribute a little more to the development of secure, fast and cheaper internet access in the CEMAC zone.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) unveiled in 2014 its latest ranking of the most developed African countries, according to its information and communication technology index (IDI), which merges 11 indicators in a single measure benchmark used to monitor and compare the evolution of ICT around the world. This index takes into account fundamental indicators such as access and infrastructure, access to ICTs and their use by households and individuals, access, use of ICTs by businesses, administrations and other organizations of the public sector, etc.
According to the latter, Gabon is the only Central African and French-speaking country in the African top 10 with an average of 3.46. And for good reason, the country is one of the few of these areas to offer 4G.
Overall growth of the Gabonese market
Indeed, according to data compiled on March 31, 2014 by the market observatory of the Agency for the Regulation of Electronic Communications and Posts (Arcep), with 657,928 internet subscribers in the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 14% compared to the same period in 2013, Gabon can congratulate itself on having well started its entry into digital. However, despite a penetration rate of 43% nationwide, up 16%, the overall turnover of the internet market in Gabon is down 18% to stand at 5.6 billion francs against 6.8 billion in 2013.
“This remarkable increase in the number of Internet users which does not seem to influence the good performance of the overall growth of the market is justified by the explosion of sales of smartphones and other smart phones”, it is explained. And for good reason: the mobile phone is today the first means of access to the Internet with 94%.
It is precisely in recognition of all these efforts in favor of digital technology that President of the Republic, Head of State, HE. Ali Bongo Ondimba has just received from the president of the International Telecommunication Union the very prestigious award of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for sustainable development.
This award was presented to him last September in New York (USA). The Gabonese example proves once that the combination of a strong political will materialized by a coherent and sustainable long-term strategy, coupled with dynamic actors, can stimulate the development of ICT, in support of global development objectives.
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