RS 2: Africa

Bridging Africa’s Digital Divide

When we think about poverty outside of The United States many of us think of Africa due to the extreme hardship that much of Africa faces seen through pictures and stories we hear about through the internet. One of the major hardships that Africa faces is the digital divide. You can have luxury mansions down in South Africa and not very far away you can have families living in tiny huts with dirt floors and no running water. In 2018 the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “which is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies,” decided to get together at the ITU’s Telecom World Event and work towards bridging Africa’s digital divide (Bridging Africa’s Digital Divide 1). This event brought together many people, including policy makers, entrepreneurs, innovators, industry experts, and many other professionals that discussed the ways that Africa could solve the divide. The event focused on the 4 I’s initiative, which stands for infrastructure, investment, innovation, and inclusivity. The initiative called for Africa’s government to “build modern infrastructure, invest in evolving technologies, support innovation from technology startups and ensure all-inclusive connectivity of its citizens” (BADD 3). Mr. Houlin Zhao, ITU’s Secretary-General, stressed that if Africa did not focus on the four I’s then there would be no way to close the digital divide and get Africa caught back up with the rest of the world in technology development. Zhao saw this event as a huge stepping stone in Africa’s journey to becoming more technology inclusive and stated that the 2018 Telecom World Event “is an opportunity for African countries to make their voice count and play an important role in shaping the environment that will lead the development of digital technology into the next decade” (BADD 7). During the event Zhao encouraged young entrepreneurs to brainstorm technology solutions that would get Africa back up to speed by addressing specific problems that African’s face day to day. During the event South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, gave a speech regarding the changes and new approaches that Africa would take in order to fix the growing problem by saying that: “South Africa demonstrated its capabilities in the development and deployment of information in and communications technology” (BADD 11). In the end, Africa is now striving to bridge the divide and give all citizens an equal opportunity, and the Mobile Telecommunications company in South Africa has vowed to continue to partner with African governments to head the fourth industrial revolution in Africa.

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