For the third year running, Kenya holds tenaciously to a spot it edged Botswana out of in 2014. While Botswana continues to do well in terms of ICT growth, the rate of such growth is not fast enough for the country to get back on the Top 10 list of the Africa Infrastructure Development Index (AIDI). The latter has been developed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The last time Botswana was on that list was in 2013 when it held position 10 with a score of 10.74. At this time, Kenya was in position 14 with a score of 9.06. In 2014, Botswana improved its score by 5.54 points but was knocked off its spot by Kenya whose own score shot up by 8.73. Since then Botswana has been trailing the East African nation and in the 2016 AIDI rankings, Kenya retains position 10 with a score of 26.69 while Botswana is still at 11 with 25.34.
The ICT index is measured in terms of mobile phone and internet subscription with greater international internet bandwidth and is one of the four components of the AIDI. The other components are Transport, Electricity and Water and Sanitation. These components are disaggregated into nine indicators that have a direct or indirect impact on productivity and economic growth. The purpose of the AIDI is to monitor and evaluate the status and progress of infrastructure development across the continent; to assist in resource allocation within the framework of African Development Fund replenishments; and to contribute to policy dialogue within the bank and between the bank, member countries and other development organisations.
In the 2016 report, the AfDB says that the ICT sector has driven the greatest improvements in the AIDI ratings over the past decade, compared to all other sectors.
“It is no coincidence that the top ten ranked countries in the latest AIDI [among them Botswana] were those with the highest growth in their ICT sectors. Ac┬¡cording to the AfDB report “African Telecom Infrastructure Invest┬¡ment Needs, April 2015”, the period 2005-2010 was a period of very high growth for mobile telephony, marked by the emer┬¡gence of new operators in the market, massive growth in cove┬¡rage extensions, broadband speeds, as well as user subscrip┬¡tions. The period 2010-2015 also witnessed the development of new submarine and regional overland cables, which provided huge new capacity around coastal Africa, as well as facilitating mobile operator consolidation. This period also saw large invest┬¡ments by the private sector and the emergence of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in some countries, which has been a major factor behind the growth,” the AIDI 2016 report says.
It adds that over the next few decades, there will be a need to upgrade and modernise the mobile networks to support the shift to smartphones.
“The need for fiber broadband networks and the demand by both corporations and the general public for superfast fiber access at national levels have emerged as urgent priorities to keep pace with global developments, and this will require major financial investment. It is anticipated that in the near to medium term, ICT will continue to lead the growth and improvement in infrastructure development, as captured by the AIDI scores,” the report says.