Telephone Internet in Africa Natitingou Benin West Africa Tuesday, October 3, 2006
I like Africa more than I thought I would, therefore I making plans already on how to return to Africa.
I have two trips where I could be for weeks without Electrical lines or Cell phone access. On the Amazon River and by Camel across the Sahara.
I want continuous Internet Access and the ability to receive phone calls anywhere in Africa.
This is easy to do by Satellite systems I think, although I have serious concerns about how to point the thing at the sky. My GPS or Global Positioning Satellite device does not work in area with large building. To go to the top of buildings, to set up equipment, it dangerous and I greatly increase my chances of being robbed. People see me doing something they become curious, and they come over, they learn, and tell everyone. I do not tell people I have a computer in my room. With the satellite connection, I may in a way announce it to the world.
GPRS would be a lot better access, and it is possible that Areeba already is providing this for most of Africa; I do think they have this for Ghana already, but I need to confirm.
Calling an Internet Access point in France or USA is still an option; I could maybe call the USA with a cell phone and have access.
Satellite will reach everywhere, however to take a camel trip across the Sahara and blog every day needs a solar panel to provide electricity.
HOW MUCH TO PAY
HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST
I am using a figure of 10 dollars per Meg of transfer as being feasible for internet. I think I can do less than 5 dollars per day and be feasible.
NGO’s and CNN, the Military are the big users of Satellite Internet access technology. I know the military is not price conscious, I think CNN and NGO rather think, I need to call my family, I do not care how much it cost.
CNN is using for real business applications, therefore they would care if the connection were down.
NGO’s have a perceived need of urgent contact; I have never seen an NGO stay in a place with zero electrical lines or internet access. They base from normally good cities and great tourist areas and go to bad areas. They do go to bad areas, but they do not have their bases there, in Niger, they were in Zinder, and drove their NGO-SUV-TOYOTA to Zermou and picked up the children and took back to Zinder. Now, they would use Satellite and pay, even though there was good internet access in the city. This is a stupid cost, and nothing to do with need.
Any time I am close to the internet, I will be sending information by normal internet and using the Cyber Cafes here in Africa, not the satellite.
TIME, there is a time problem, I do not understand the internet in Africa, however from 8-10 in the morning it is ok, from 8 to 12 at night it is ok and if they are open all night, I suppose ok also, but they are not open all night normally.
2 DAYS PER WEEK AVERAGE
I have internet access on an average TWO days per week I think, this means I have 4 hours per week of internet access where I can send and it works. In this time, I can FTP about 50 photos or about six Megs, this would cost me 60 US Dollars by satellite.
By internet café, it cost me on average, ONLY in Africa, two dollars or one dollar per hour for internet access.
I have two types of photos, I take about 30-50 photos per day, and maybe post about three per day to the blog. The cost of blog photos is not a big expense; however, the cost of newsletter photos is a lot.
The problem here is how to find the great gates or places in Africa where I can send large amounts of information quickly. The major cities normally are it.
AREEBA The Areeba Cell phone company seems to be the only company that could provide me with very expensive phone access and the same telephone number. The companies try to get you with the roaming fees, it is tricky, I think impossible to calculate and budget, but there does seem to be access with Areeba to many of the countries. Every country has their best carrier and I can buy a SIM card, the problem is you come across a border from say Togo to Benin and if you wanted access for the few days you are traveling to Contonou, it becomes very complicated and stupid.
TIME all of this comes down to time, how much time can a person devote to calling home, or going to the internet. From a business point of view, most of this can wait until I am at a great café. I see though people need to call their parents or family and just throw money into the air in reality many NGO, Peace Corps and such spend half their days just staying in touch and doing very little.