Africa and connectivity

The mobile network plays a key role on the African continent, and one which is unparalleled in the world. It has become the communication channel of choice for voice and SMS communications and its growth is accelerating thanks to smartphones. The development of 3G networks has been vital in supporting this dynamism across the continent.

The explosion of mobile telephony

While mobile telephony has expanded gradually in other countries, the effect in Africa has been more like a big bang. The limited development of the STN (Switched Telephone Network) fixed telephony network, which is made of copper wires, left ample room for mobile telephony. So much so that it has become the standard for voice communications.
As regards the Internet network, the situation is much the same: the fixed telephony network could not be used as the basis for the deployment of modems and ADSL. Mobile telephony has therefore opened up access to the Internet, explains Yves Bellego, Director of network strategy at Orange: “The evolution of uses that we have seen on fixed networks in France is akin to that on mobile networks in Africa. The mobile network, which is the only means of communication available to many people, has been used to make calls, send SMS messages, and access the Internet thanks to the development of 3G and the arrival of 4G in some countries... Africa has skipped the fixed copper network stage.”

Some figures on the fixed telephony network:


Ownership rate (in 2014)


60,7 %


0,85 %


2,1 %

Burkina Faso

0,75 %