The internet has changed Africa and is creating jobs that never existed, the honorary chair of the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Mr Bitange Ndemo has said.
As the web celebrates its 25th year has Africa really benefitted from its existence?
Mr Ndemo thinks the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’. “It has deepened financial services in the continent beyond the imaginations of many people globally. Africa is talking its way into productivity with services now closer to citizens. Farmers are getting value out of their produce as they receive pricing information on their mobile phones. Governments in Africa are also gearing up to use the mobile platforms to offer government services.”
He added: “The mobile internet is delivering many more services to the people than was envisaged just a few years ago. Young people are leveraging broadband to innovate. Less than 10 years ago, you would not have found the words “Africa” and “innovation” in the same sentence, but now new applications have changed this and Africa is truly making major contributions globally.”
Social media has also been instrumental to creating accountability by government and mobilising for social change.
The recent McKinsey report, “Lions go Digital: The Internet’s Transformative Potential in Africa” estimates that in the next 10 years, the internet will contribute as much as $300-billion in gross domestic product and a similar amount in productivity gains. E-commerce will grow to more than $75-billion.
Mr Ndemo pointed out that challenges still remain. Most rural places still do not have access to the internet, and infrastructure and affordability are challenges. Its impact may also be hindered by over-regulation by governments and cyber security remains a global worry.