25 May 2016
Blogs by author: Anna Easton, Director of Sustainable Business,BT
The lack of internet access for many Africans stands in the way of opportunity. Here’s how better connectivity across the continent can change all that.
Africa needs growth for all.
African economies have recorded the fastest economic growth worldwide over the last ten years. Yet there remain extreme cases of deep and indefensible poverty in some of the continent’s countries, with some 330 million Africans living on less than $1.25 a day. We have a duty to ensure that everyone can feel Africa’s economic boom — from top to bottom.
I believe one key to unlocking this challenge is connectivity.
Internet access holds the key.
Approximately 160 million people across East and Central Africa don’t have access to the internet. All areas of society feel the effects of this lack of connectivity, encompassing not just business but also health and education.
The hurdles to connecting the continent are numerous: lack of technological infrastructure, unmanageable broadband costs and unreliable power grids are the most obvious problems.
These complex challenges need to be met with creative and scalable solutions. The stakes here are too high for projects that can’t be managed locally, and whose benefits can’t be shared regionally.
Working hard to connect communities.
Since 2013, we’ve worked with SOS Children’s Villages, a pan-African charity that provides homes to orphans and vulnerable young people in some of Africa’s poorest countries. This programme, known as ‘Connecting Africa’, has seen us provide broadband services via satellite to SOS villages across 13 African countries.
Already, we’ve had a massive impact — reaching 145,000 people. Connectivity bolsters vital services. In fact, 88 per cent of children in our pilot used their connection to study.
Developing healthy nations with new technology.
In the healthcare sector, organisations like One Million Community Health Workers (1mCHW) are employing our ICT to support their mission to train more health workers and improve access to healthcare.
Projects like these succeed because they build on the premises of opportunity, sustainability and scalability. Connectivity is a life-changing opportunity for everyone. We wholeheartedly believe in the role of connectivity in improving lives, and Connecting Africa has given us the opportunity to show how we can do this.
It’s not just governments or the heads of billion-dollar companies who stand to benefit from a connected Africa. The opportunities are endless, and everyone will enjoy the rewards.
Find out more about why Africa needs connectivity — read my original World Economic Forum article about how we can help an entire continent get connected.