RS2: Afrika

Access to information: bridging the digital divide in Africa

When most people think of Africa, they see a continent that is trying to emerge from the “third world” label it has been given. Currently, it is a difficult feat. This is due to among other things a lack of internet access. In fact, according to an article written in The Guardian by Loren Treisman, “Only 7% of the continent’s inhabitants are online” (para. 1). The vast majority of the continent lacks internet access making it impossible for Africans to tap into the potential of the booming online economy. An apparent barrier keeping many Africans off the web is that most of the internet is in English. Right now, low-tech methodologies are spread information but there is a need to integrate more high tech methods into their everyday lives.

Current efforts are being made to eradicate the major issue of many lacking internet access. Treisman explains that non-profits need to combine “low and high-tech approaches to ensure that citizens are able to access critical information that can help improve their lives” (para 2). Combining low-tech and high-tech makes sure that the citizens of Africa can afford the technology but also are not using outdated systems. If they only used a high-tech approach it would not be effective due to high illiteracy rates. Without being able to read efficiently the citizens in Africa lacking internet would not be able to navigate the web. There are many non-profits working towards the goal of eradicating the digital divide. These organizations are taking multifaceted and creative approaches by including the government and tourism sector in their plans. For example, in Uganda the Question Box has created a very simple and easy to use interface to allow those in hard-to-reach areas of the country to bring “expert about health, education and agricultural services” (para. 10).

Overall, the economic possibilities in Africa are endless once more of the continents’ population is connected online. Said best by Treisman, “technology can enable critical information to reach marginalized communities at a rate and scale never before possible” (para. 13). With the expansion of programs and non-profits combining efforts with the locals and their governments, strides towards a more connected and upgraded continent are on the horizon.

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