Reactionary regulation stifles tech

Outdated policies and a disconnect between governments and regulatory bodies is affecting investment in tech infrastructure on the continent.

20 June 2022

Keoikantse Marungwana, IDC. Photo: Karolina Komendera

Streamlining Africa’s ICT ecosystem so that industry regulation encourages innovation, welcomes competition and attracts solid investment is easier said than done. Market analysts say the biggest problem is that existing regulation is often outdated and anything new introduced is ineffective because it isn’t based on the latest advances in technology. Compounding the problem, regulators and governments are often on different wavelengths when it comes to rules and application.

Playing a foundational role in the digital revolution, telecoms in Africa is attracting investment. According to EY’s Africa Attractiveness Report, the industry attracted $8.5 billion in 2020, with Nigeria and South Africa seeing the largest share. Koffi Kouakou, Africa analyst, Stratnum Futures, says there’s also money coming into Algeria, Egypt and Morocco, as well as Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. Add to this the increased investment in undersea and fibre connectivity, fresh internet exchange point development and service delivery, and a continuous focus on getting remote areas online, and the telecoms market is a hive of activity. And where there’s activity, there’s revenue, meaning Africa’s telecoms markets have the potential to be cash cows for their respective governments, which look to regulators to manage the industry.

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