It has been a constant inequality battle for many years. Most citizens in less-developed countries do not have access to the internet – save for a small minority. The privileged have been in a position to use this access to information, tools and influential networks to exercise control over the rest of the countries. This has typically led to oppression over the majority in countries in Africa.
It is therefore highly necessary to mould our advances in order to address both local and international issues. This should come with the mind-set that knowledge and skills are not the needed aspects for a minority group to be able to make better rulings and decisions for the majority that could be done for themselves.
Africa is in need of a new model that will represent the fact that long-term progress and most ideal results will only be achieved when all people are able to actively contribute to their community, economic situations and to the rest of the world.
The #internet4all campaign is oriented around changing the current system of achieving sustainable progress and success by encouraging self-sufficiency in people, enabling them to be able to do more for themselves in all aspects of their lives. This change is at the core of the transformational make-up of the internet.
It is believed that there are five areas in which this change can be achieved and bring about transformation:
Improvement of Agricultural Productivity
It is stated by the World Bank that a simple 10% rise in access to broadband corresponds to a minimum of 1.38% rise in GDP growth.
Therefore, there is room for vast gains in Africa, as agriculture contributes to around 65% of its labour force and a third of the GDP.
Providing internet access to farmers could aid in educating them on improved agricultural methods, improved results and levels of income as well as introducing access to other financial services such as credit. It could also aid in better market transparency.
Financial Inclusion for the Remote and Financially Illiterate
There are highly beneficial opportunities available in major proportions of unbanked individuals for developing African-focused programmes.
There have already been various cases of success; 3% of Kenya’s GDP ran through M-Pesa, – a Kenyan platform for mobile money, and thereby introducing financial inclusion to almost 20 million people in Kenya.
Econet, in Zimbabwe 2015, saw $3.1 billion’s worth of transactions run through the Ecocash platform. This created jobs for 35,000 Ecocash agents.
Using the internet comes with reduction in the cost of transactions, which supplies more much-needed income. e-Commerce also has the potential to expand the reach of the African retail sector by increasing access to markets, information and technology.
Pertinent Academic and Professional Education
The internet provides an alternative platform of education for those who are unable to attend traditional classroom-based classes, either due to financial, geographical or gender-based restrictions.
Introducing universal internet access will significantly level out the learning environment, supplying access to quality educational resources, universal choices and enabling Africans to be involved on a global scale. It will also create an environment in which an individual’s income will not be the determining factor in what he or she may learn and how.
Advancing Passed Less-Efficient Healthcare Plans
Universal internet access will provide people in Africa with the means to train and educate the health workforce, enabling them to evolve their conventional labour-intensive and geographically-focused healthcare models. The use of further technologies brought by the internet introduces opportunities for the ability to provide services including remote diagnosis and HIV prevention education – this could consequently result in saving up to $188 billion by 2025.
Internet technology would significantly make the health systems more productive and effective by automating systems, enabling record-keeping electronically, improving data collection accuracy and further benefitting rural areas with better provision of health education and information.
Online Government Services Promote Adoption and Investment in the Private Sector
The enabling of automating revenue collection could produce productivity benefits within Africa to $10 billion -$25 billion. The Kenyan Revenue Authority has taken away the option to use conventional paper-based systems by making it necessary for all citizens who turn 18 to register online for their tax number. Several government services have also been moved online in South Africa, including car registration and notably, tax filing, which led to more than 99% electronically-filed tax returns in 2011.
Transferring government services to an online system allows better accessibility and lower cost benefits to use these services. Additionally, the use of these online services as the most effective system is a significant method in which to promote the enhancement of services and opportunities within the private sector.
It is believed by the Global Shapers Community that the leaders of Africa cannot ignore the power that widespread access to, and use of, the internet can bring. Providing solutions to the current barriers to this access will result in an indispensable return on investment for the country’s governments, economies, industry and consequently the whole of Africa.