Africa’s Internet Infrastructure Challenge Could Slow Netflix Rollout

Africa’s Internet Infrastructure Challenge Could Slow Netflix Rollout

By Christopher Vourlias | From Variety

Just months after Netflix shot its first original film in Ghana, the U.S.-based company has returned to the African continent.

But while Netflix content will now be available in all 54 African nations, the streaming giant enters a region where Internet penetration — at just under 20% — is the world’s lowest.

The mobile phone boom has helped bring Web access to an estimated 300 million Africans and growing, but high data costs and spotty connectivity have made it difficult for many VOD services to gain traction.

Recognizing the challenges, iRoko switched to a mobile-first, Android-first, download-only version for its Africa platform last year. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has noted that his company is working on video-compression technology that will enable it to deliver data quickly “on any device in any broadband condition.”“The infrastructure, generally, isn’t really here for streaming long-form content,” says Jason Njoku, founder of iRoko TV, widely referred to as the Netflix of Africa. “For millions, the data price-points are way too high to pay for content streaming.”

In spite of the obstacles, new players are trying to stay ahead of the curve, with falling data costs and increased speeds leading industry analysts to believe a boom is on the horizon.