BURKINA FASO: CYBER-CAFÉ EXPLOSION BUT CONNECTIONS SLOW AND EXPENSIVE

Internet

The explosion in the number of cyber-cafes in Burkina Faso is making the web more accessible, writes Florence Santos da Silva of Afrik.com. But this is in spite of a connection that remains expensive and slow. In Ouagadougou there’s a cybercafe every 50 metres. But many have no functioning connection. Most cybercafe employees take a philiosophical attitude and ask customers to come back in an hour. Once connected the surfer needs a lot of patience: one click, one minute, one page. The price is between 800 and 1000 CFAs an hour at least, compared to 300 CFAs an hour in neighbouring countries like Benin and Togo.

Burkina Faso’s citizens have a thirst for new technology. Many of the cyber-café clients are very young such as the pupils who come to open their first mail box. A businessman spends around 10,000 CFAs a month on the internet, against 5,000 CFAs spent by his neighbouring user a physics professor. Most people go to cyber-cafes to receive mail as having a connection at home is a rarity as it costs several thousand CFAs.

Among the cyber-cafes of Ouaga, Reflex is unusual because it has a rapid connection through a leased line, which is unusual in Burkina. There are less than 10 such connections in the country. Reflex’s owner M. Millogo believes that the increase in cyber-cafes has led to the increasing popularity of the internet but that prices need to come down before more people will use it:"Africa needs these new technologies in order to communicate better."

In Bobo-Dioulasso, Cyber-Planète opened last summer. On the wall there are notices identifying a selection of sites: for finding a a school or a university, friends, etc. Ezéchiel Ouédraogo, the son of the owner is the moving force behind the new café and one of the most enthusiastic exponents of the internet in Burkina. Founded in Ouagadougo by l’association Yam-Pukri it appears to want to convince all Burkinabes of the magic of the web. His father was drawn into this strange adventure and little by little has been seduced by the growing turnover of this family enterprise.