In West Africa, big data is becoming a game-changing concept. With an estimated population of over 440 million people, according to the United Nations, the region is a potential hub to drive big data for advanced growth. Mobile infrastructure has seen a rise in West Africa with technologies, undersea fibre optics cables, and roaming services.
According to the Internet World Statistics 2021-2023 report, Africa has 601,940,784 internet users. West Africa in particular has a penetration rate of 43.2%, the lowest compared to the other six regions.
Big data impacts financial technology and plays a critical role in the business growth and outsourcing of ICT startups in West African countries for revenue generation. Through big data, users’ information is collated from mobile app sources and social media to improve the banking sector and other informal sectors in the socio-economic growth of West Africa.
Big data analytics and broadband penetration show that the region can harness foreign investments if the structures and logistics are resilient. As one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, ICT contributes over $1 billion to its economy.
West Africa operates with 2G/3G services in many countries. However, the sub-region is leaping to adopt and roll out 4G/5G wireless network and fibre connections to bridge the urban and rural internet gap. Countries like Côte D’Ivoire and Ghana have partnered up to improve their roaming services to enable broadband expansion and speedier network.
West Africa is growing, but in the sub-region, many countries are listed as the least developed in internet penetration rankings globally, according to the World Bank 2021 report. The report further revealed that most internet users in West Africa
access the internet through mobile phones rather than through fixed broadband internet.
The region is affected by low data storage on its mobile penetration rate and other indicators of internet connections for qualitative assessment of its growth. In the study, the World Bank attributes these factors to the high cost of internet services, access to reliable internet, and the weak value of local currencies.