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Dec 11, 2016

In the space of just ten years Africa’s mobile phone market has grown from about 100 million users to a billion making the continent one of the fastest growing internet markets in the world. Compared to other parts of the world, Africans came relatively late to the internet game due to a lack of network infrastructure and devices that were largely too expensive for most consumers. Well that began to change back in the mid-2000s as Chinese engineers from companies like Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE fanned out across Africa to build out a significant portion of Africa’s internet backbone. 
Just as internet access became more widely available, a second trend was taking shape that would not only revolutionize the internet in Africa but throughout the entire developing world. Chinese mobile device makers like Huawei, Oppo, Tecno, OnePlus and countless others made a critically important breakthrough with the creation of sub-$100 Android-powered smartphones. Hundreds of millions of people upgraded their well-worn Nokia and Ericsson feature phones to these new Chinese-made Android devices and, for the first time, providing full-access to the mobile internet.
The importance of so many new consumers getting online in poorer, lesser-developed-countries, cannot be overstated. This access to the internet is being felt in every aspect of society from politics to commerce, communications to content and beyond. Until recently, in most regions in Africa where there was never even a copper-line phone system, the sudden emergence of modern communications networks paired with low-cost handheld devices is truly remarkable. Although it would not be accurate to give the Chinese government and companies all of the credit for facilitating this telecommunications revolution, they have probably done far more than any other single country for which they deserve an enormous amount of praise.
This week Eric & Cobus discuss the African IT market and how a new, $35 million Chinese-financed data center in Tanzania is poised to light up much up of East Africa with significantly faster internet connections, all part of China’s ongoing development of Africa’s ICT sector.
Join the conversation. Do you think it is fair to credit the Chinese with transforming Africa’s information technology market? Do you use Chinese tech? If so, what’s been your experience? Tell us what you think.
Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque