VoIP catching on in Africa

Voice over IP (VoIP) is finally starting to take off in Africa due to the high cost of international calls and increases in internet bandwidth, according to telecoms consultancy, BuddeComm.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  August 12, 2003

Voice over IP (VoIP) is finally starting to take off in Africa due to the high cost of international calls and increases in internet bandwidth, according to telecoms consultancy, BuddeComm.

A growing number of service providers have entered the African market recently, including Deltathree, ITXC, iBasis, Net2Phone and Veetone, with ITXC alone experiencing an increase of 111% in voice traffic to and from the continent during 2002.

The research group reckons that primary reason for the growth is cost. “Most developing countries pay exceedingly high tariffs for termination of international calls in the USA or Europe,” says Paul Budde, managing director of BuddeComm.

“When this is added to the high fees charged by the typical monopoly telco in Africa, the cost of international calls becomes exorbitant. The cost savings are enough for a significant percentage of the eligible population to be prepared to suffer the generally lower quality voice achieved by VoIP without using a dedicated network,” he adds.

Budde also says that public telecoms operators are generating substantial cost savings, as settlement rate balancing tariffs can be avoided by using the services of an international VoIP operator, usually with a dedicated network. This can save around 50% of the cost of terminating international calls.

Aside from bringing in new minutes via VoIP from those calling from Africa, VoIP can also be used to bring in calls that would otherwise have been made elsewhere.

For example, Africa’s first VoIP call centre was established in Togo in early 2001 to serve North American clients on a full time basis.

African telecoms operators currently using VoIP include SoltelChad, Côte d-Ivoire Telecom, Telecom Egypt, Gamtel, Ghana Telecom, Maroc Telecom, Nitel, Sonatel, Telkom SA and TelOne.

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