TOGO’S INTERNET SECTOR EXPERIENCING RAPID GROWTH
With nearly 350,000 internet users, more than 100,000 computers connected to the internet and about 40 ISPs, the Togolese internet sector has really grown. According to Ange Dokoué, engineer and director of Woezon Communication, an ISP and SMS provider:"The internet in Togo has now reached the level of rural communities." This spread underlines the fact that many of the countries larger towns outside its coastal capital lie in the rural areas of the north of the country and are offering identical access prices to the capital.
Togo Telecom offers a 64 kbs leased line for a monthly 885,000 CFAs. ISPs then offer it to their clients (companies, cybercafes) for 10,000 CFAs for a dial-up connection. Cybercafes have to register with the regulator for an annual licence fee of 100,000 CFAs. In the cybercafes themselves, an hour’s access costs between 250-500 CFAs, depending on the location of the cyber-café, the state of its equipment and the comfort of its facilities.
With a million inhabitants, the capital has more than 200 cyber-cafes, more than one for every 5,000 Loméens, according to the cyber-café owners association. According to Louis Amékoudi many of the cafes do not have the equipment or connectivity to deliver an effective service. There is often a lack of professionalism amongst those who launch cyber-cafes and they will often simply use a dial-up connection.
Two large companies share the internet market in Togo. The largest of these, Café Informatique et Télécommunication is a private company launched in 1997 and it has about 50% of the market. It has its own 1 mbps line to Atlanta in the USA and uses Pan Am Sat’s PAS-3 satellite. The second largest is Togo Telecom, the incumbent phone company with a 2 mbps link which it can upgrade to 6 mbps as the market expands. The new regulatory framework introduced in 1998 allows VSAT licences and six ISPs including oft Net, Trade World Telecommunication, and International Telecommunication Developpement use VSAT. According to Germain Abayeh Boyodi, responsible for networks and services at the regulator, the government does not really have a strategy to develop ICT in the country. The government needs to direct funds to those rural areas that the market will not reach.