Despite the destruction, Libya’s telecommunications infrastructure is superior to those in most other African countries. Massive investments had been made by the former government into a next-generation national fibre optic backbone network. There was considerable expansion of DSL and WiMAX broadband services, and new international fibre connections and upgrades made to existing ones. Libya also had one of Africa’s first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) deployments. The first terabit international fibre optic cable landed in the country in 2010, followed by a second in 2013. Investments into telecommunications infrastructure totalling S10 billion were earmarked for the 15 years to 2020, though given the civil strife in recent years it is difficult to say how much of this will be put into effect.

With one of the highest market penetration rates in Africa, the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent and one of the highest per capita GDP levels. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low. So far only one of the mobile networks has launched third-generation (3G) broadband services. Fixed-line penetration has fallen significantly as a result of the war but is also expected to see a renaissance, including fibre, as the demand for very high-speed broadband increases.

Libya South Sudan African Countries Telecommunications Infrastructure

At only around 23% penetration, one of the lowest in Africa, South Sudan’s mobile market has many years of strong growth ahead of it. The virtually untapped internet and broadband market will kick off once the country gains access to international fibre optic cables and a national backbone network is put in place. Sophisticated infrastructure solutions are needed to reach the 80% of the population that live outside of the main urban centres. With a negligible rate of bank account ownership, mobile payment and banking solutions are set to dominate the country’s financial services sector as well.

The limits to growth are currently defined by widespread poverty and a low literacy rate, but the government recognises the positive feedback loop on development that access to information and communication technologies (ICT) can have and is providing a range of investment incentives. The international community has provided $4 billion in aid to strengthen governance and institutions in the young nation.