Africa’s International Bandwidth Reaches 4.6 Tbps In 2015

Africa’s total inbound international Internet bandwidth increased by 51% during 2015. By December 2015, Africa’s bandwidth reached 4.555 Tbps, according to the eighth annual edition of the Africa Telecom Transmission Map published by Hamilton Research. This compared to 3.015 Tbps in 2014, 2.037 Tbps in 2013, 1.489 Tbps in 2012, 805 Gbps in 2011, and 497 Gbps in 2010 (see also Africa: Africa's International Bandwidth Reaches 3 Tbps In 2014, On Target For 4.5 Tbps By Dec 2015). All of Africa’s international bandwidth is supplied by submarine cables, terrestrial networks connected to submarine cables, or satellite.

This total of 4.555 Tbps in 2015 was split between Sub-Saharan Africa, which increased by 64% to reach 2.759 Tbps, and North Africa which increased by 35% to reach 1.796 Tbps. Excluding Kenya, which reached 855 Gbps in 2015 (source: Communications Authority), the total bandwidth for other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 61% to reach 1.904 Tbps in December 2015.

Chart: Africa International Internet Bandwidth, 2006 - 2015

At current growth rates, a CAGR of 55.8% from 2010 – 2015, Africa’s international bandwidth will reach 7 Tbps by the end of 2016. Some of the largest markets are expected to pass the 1 Tbps mark in the near future. Already by June 2016, Egypt had reached 992 Gbps, and Kenya had reached 878 Gbps (see Egypt: Egypt’s International Bandwidth Jumps To 992 Gbps, June 2016).

Submarine Cable Traffic Increases By 65%

Of the total bandwidth of 2.759 Tbps in Sub-Saharan Africa by December 2015, 2.594 Tbps (94.1%) was supplied directly by submarine cable. This total of 2.594 Tbps supplied by submarine cable was a 65% increase compared to 1.572 Tbps in December 2014. Comores Telecom’s international bandwidth doubled during 2015, and reached 900 Mbps during 2015 (see Comoros: Comores Telecom’s International Bandwidth Reaches 900 Mbps, 2015). Telkom South Africa reported a 78% increase in submarine cable utilisation in the year to March 2016 (see South Africa: Telkom Reaches 81,503 FTTH Homes Passed, March 2016). And Kenya reached 855 Gbps in 2015, a 72% increase compared to 498 Gbps in 2014 (see Kenya: Kenya’s International Bandwidth Reaches 855 Gbps, December 2015).

There is plenty of room for future growth: this figure of 2.594 Tbps is still less than 5% of the total design capacity of at least 64.119 Tbps that is potentially now available on the 18 submarine cables serving the region in December 2015. The total design capacity has increased both with the introduction of new submarine cable systems, and with the upgrading of capacity on existing systems. This total design capacity has increased from 59.069 Tbps in 2014, 25.841 Tbps in 2013, and 13.061 Tbps in 2010.

The entry into service of WACS, SEAS, ACE and LION 2 submarine cables during 2012, and the landing of EASSy in Somalia in 2014, brought submarine cables to the shores of thirteen countries for the first time. This has increased the combined international bandwidth of these countries from 4.6 Gbps supplied by satellite and terrestrial cross-border networks in 2010, to 71.6 Gbps in 2015.

Click here for larger view. To order your copy of the 2016/7 Africa Telecom Transmission Map click here.The 2016/7 Africa Telecom Transmission Map is sponsored by Liquid Telecom.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the dozens of network operators for providing information, and the following organisations for their input and advice into the research and production of this map: Africa Analysis, Balancing Act, ECCAS, ECOWAS, Europa Technologies, Liquid Telecom, WIOCC and the World Bank.

Terrestrial Cross Border Traffic Increases By 42%

Of the total bandwidth of 2.759 Tbps in Sub-Saharan Africa by December 2015, 159 Gbps (5.7%) was supplied by terrestrial cross-border networks connected to submarine cables. The completion of new cross-border links, and the expansion of capacity on others, has seen the volume of intra-regional traffic backhauled to submarine cable landing points increase by 42% in the last year to reach 159 Gbps in December 2015. This compares to 112 Gbps in 2014, 62.2 Gbps in 2013, 44.3 Gbps in 2012, and 35.4 Gbps in 2011.

These terrestrial backhaul networks are delivering much greater bandwidth to those countries which do not have their own submarine cable landing point. Landlocked Chad’s international Internet bandwidth reached 946 Mbps in December 2015, a 290% increase compared to 242 Mbps in 2014, and this is expected to increase dramatically again when the fibre link to Sudan is completed (see Chad: Chad’s International Bandwidth Increases By 290% During 2015). Ethiopia reached 50 Gbps, an 83% increase compared to 27.3 Gbps in 2014. And Zimbabwe reached 19.864 Gbps in 2015, a 43% increase compared to 13.860 Gbps in December 2014 (see Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe’s International Bandwidth Increases By 43% During 2015). While some landlocked countries saw rapid growth during 2015, others have seen more muted growth, for example Zambia reached 10.386 Gbps in 2015 (a 10.9% increase compared 2014), and Rwanda reached 6.332 Gbps (a 10.4% increase).

About Us

Hamilton Research is a specialist provider of research, analysis and GIS cartographic services for telecom markets in Africa and other developing regions. We undertake customised research and consulting projects for a range of clients, with projects ranging from the research and production of maps-to-order and the development of market metrics.


Paul Hamilton
Hamilton Research Ltd.,
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Bath BA1 7DE, UK

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