RS 2: Sub-Saharan Africa

Bridging Africa’s Digital Divide

In my past research, it is evident that there are many determinants of our countries digital divide. It is easy to say that certain parts of our country have much more exposure to the internet than others and that higher-class citizens are more likely to access the internet than those of a lower class. Though all these things are true, it is important to take into account the digital divide beyond the United States. Throughout Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata’s article, “Bridging Africa’s Digital Divide,” he discusses the digital divide across Africa, specifically Sub-Saharan African countries and how it affects the African population. Agbata also provides some solutions that he believes could improve the digital divide. In the article, he begins by acknowledging that compared to previous years, Africa has made a good amount of progress “in the digital space by expanding its internet connectivity” but compared to other continents, Africa is falling short. Agbata claims that compared to most areas in Africa, the Sub-Saharan Africa is “where a multiplicity of constraints related to economic, culture and politics, barricade progress of digital access.” He claims that there are a multitude of reasons why Africa has such low digital access rates, but “slow economic growth and poor education” are two of the country’s great barricades. Agbata refers to a report by the World Bank that shows that “only 19 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population has Internet connectivity compared to 88 percent in North Africa.” Similar to the United States, rural areas have far less internet access compared to urban areas. Rural areas are more affected by this because of “poor infrastructure that limits their access to electricity.” (Agbata). Agbata firmly believes that a “widespread use of digital services is essential for economic and social progress.” Areas like the Sub-Saharan have such slow economic growth because they are lacking these digital services. Agbata continues by describing the consequences that result from having little to no internet connectivity. First, he claims that areas are “missing out on job creation and employment opportunities presented by the Internet because it links individuals and businesses around the globe.” He suggests that “a burgeoning digital country is able to keep its government on its toes by making them accountable through public participation” and this would especially be beneficial to Sub-Saharan countries. Agbata then draws attention to how the digital divide in Africa can be improved. His first solution is total “mobile connectivity” and the need for it “to be deployed in rural areas where the use is still low.” His second solution is “optical networking that has the aptitude to generate large-capacity Internet through dense wave length division multiplexing.” Overall, Agbata believes that the only way “the digital divide in Africa will be bridged [is] by the commitment and goodwill of all stakeholders.”

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