Narrowing the African Digital Divide with SD-WAN
February 14, 2019
While many countries of Africa have experienced some of the fastest GDP growth rates in the world, and despite 4 billion people globally now connected to the Internet, the African Continent still suffers from the highest costs globally for broadband and mobile data, as well as the slowest Internet speeds, in some cases 40 times slower than the 5 fastest countries.
According to Quartz , in general, African countries are not digitally competitive: none of the 39 ranked African countries achieved average speeds above 10Mbps, the minimum threshold required by consumers “to fully participate in a digital society” according to the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom. Globally, of the 189 countries ranked, 139 countries have failed to achieve that target. Of the lowest ranked 10 countries, six are African.
While rolling out technologies and services that promise digital and societal transformation offer many challenges, doing so in Africa represents unique complexities, given the wide diversity of markets, which cannot be treated as a single market due to the significant differences in technological, economic and regulatory maturity between countries.
A healthy pan-African telecommunications market will encourage buildout projects, such as the creation of data centers for popular public Cloud services. As a result, entrepreneurs will more naturally be willing to tap into Africa’s vast commercial potential. (According to the World Bank, 6 of the top 10 fastest growing economies in 2018 were in Africa.)
Software-Defined solutions have the opportunity to not only shape the future of African cloud networks, but also help narrow the Digital Divide and drive untapped commercial opportunities.
In cases where Internet quality is poor, Versa SD-WAN can help improve network performance and application reliability, leveraging such features as Forward Error Correction (FEC), packet replication, buffering and LTE failover (in markets like Africa where mobile data costs are substantially higher than broadband, Versa does data suppression over SD-WAN on LTE to reduce actual bandwidth usage).
Versa’s Traffic Line Conditioning features makes sure frames get to where they need to, drawing cause and effect between apps and conditions, and intended actions, such as spawning multiple fast links to prep for app prioritization and maintain WAN HA and redundancy, or proxying to help find the closest point of access for Internet traffic.
LTE can be configured as primary, or as a secondary/tertiary backup. Versa support’s multiple LTE enhancements to keep the LTE usage/bill in check. The failover to LTE is virtually instantaneous. If multiple links are available, they can be configured in Active/Active mode (including wireless), Active/Backup or any combination.
SD-WAN will be a boon to providers of corporate network services, or NSPs, given that SD-WAN facilitates development of capabilities to deliver services based on the priority applications that enterprises are using daily. NSPs can offer enterprise customers the flexibility they need via the provisioning of application-based services and managed Cloud-based IT. The lower entry price for Cloud-based services with consistent quality and near-infinite bandwidth is a very attractive value proposition for African enterprises.
Versa partners like BringCom see SD-WAN acting as a catalyst in helping enterprises and organizations deliver enhanced services to their customers, while boosting business continuity and economic growth throughout the Continent. SD-WAN may also serve as a catalyst for change in terms of closing the Digital Divide that exists, both between the most progressive African economies and the lesser developed ones, and between Africa as a whole and the more mature European, Asian and North American markets.
Starting in East Africa, BringCom and Gigify are jointly delivering Cloud-based services at very competitive rates, including multi-country solutions capable of performing in multi-cloud environments, working with large Cloud service providers like AWS or Azure, which are both also supported by Versa.
BringCom and Gigify project that they will eventually offer Edge Cloud Computing services in a minimum of 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Initially, their strategic focus is on East and West Africa – countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, together representing 60% of the Africa telecommunications market over the next 10 years.
Versa is extremely proud to partner with BringCom, which is blazing the trail for the first wave of users of SD-WAN services in Africa. Internet quality will remain a core issue for SD-WAN implementations to help solve, in addition to real-time service assurance for secure, dependable and transparent IP connections.