Although Nigeria and South Africa received by far the largest share of the $10.2Bn of investments in African telecoms infrastructure announced in 2011, the biggest winners were citizens of Zimbabwe.
In absolute terms, Nigeria ($3.3Bn) and South Africa ($1.8Bn), represent 50% of the total investment, but at $54 per person, Zimbabweans benefited from more than twice as much investment per person as Nigerians ($21) or South Africans ($37.50) and received more than double the continental average ($24).
Much of the new $700Mn going into Zimbabwean telecoms was spent on mobile data services, either direct to modem or to 3G handsets, taking advantage of new sub-sea bandwidth - such as that provided by SEACOM - to provide Internet connectivity to consumers. Zimbabwe, it must also be remembered, has been a significant beneficiary of Chinese investment dollars for all manner of infrastructure projects.
Worst off of the large nations were citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo ($2.75), which despite its giant population lacks the physical and investment security to make it an attractive destination for telecoms capital. Curiously, Kenyans also did poorly, their providers receiving only $4 of stated additional investment in 2011.
In the coming weeks, I'll provide further breakdowns and time series of this data