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Africa Remains World's Least-Connected Continent: Report

Africa is still the least connected country in the world with only 1.5% overall Internet penetration compared to 50% overall Internet penetration in developed countries, according to a new report published by Research and Markets.

The implementation of broadband networks increased slightly between 2003 and 2004, but is still insignificant. In 1995, Internet uptake was at a mere 500,000. This grew to 12 million this year, but the number is still "miniscule" in the words of the report, when compared with other continents. High prices and lack of telecom infrastructures in many regions make it difficult to increase Internet penetration.

Some regions in Africa, however, have seen dramatic increases. The highest penetration this year was recorded at 20% in Reunion. The second highest was 14% in Seychelles, and the third highest was over 6% in Tunisia and South Africa. Other African countries such as Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania have all experienced triple growth rates between 2003 and 2004.

While Internet access has lagged, Africa's cellular phone industry is the fastest growing in the world, at 40% in 2004, according to a separate Research and Markets report. Twenty African countries tripled their growth rates this year. Fixed-line connections are sparse and expensive, so cellular phones are enticing to many.