New report roots for more internet use and digitisation to spur Africa

27Nov 2017
The Guardian
New report roots for more internet use and digitisation to spur Africa

Many African countries have made significant progress towards creating an Internet sector, with broad reforms that focus on increasing broadband availability.

There have been further successes within countries in develop- ing online platforms, fostering growth of local companies and increasing the incentive to go online, says a new re- port launched Thursday by the Internet Society, a global non-pro t dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolu- tion and use of the Internet.

“Promoting the African Internet Economy” highlights how greater use of the Internet and digitisation of the tra- ditional economy will spur economic growth in Africa.

The report further examines Inter- net adoption and use by companies and governments throughout the re- gion, identifying barriers that must be overcome in order to create an Inter- net economy that delivers innovative services, job opportunities and income growth across the continent.

Both businesses and citizens can bene t from an Internet economy. Busi- nesses across all sectors gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people, and citizens in both rural and urban ar- eas bene t from enhanced educational and training opportunities and access to new job possibilities.

The report also outlines what needs to be done for Africa to take full advan- tage of the digital opportunity o ered by the Internet. It highlights local suc- cesses as well as broader challenges, o ering recommendations for policy makers in Africa to adopt.“The Internet economy presents a

major opportunity for Africa. However, Africa needs a secure and reliable In- ternet infrastructure that users trust in order to bringing large and small busi- nesses online, along with governments and other social services,” Dawit Bekele, the Africa region bureau director for In- ternet Society, said in a statement.

The Internet Society in collabora- tion with the African Union recently introduced Internet Infrastructure Se- curity Guidelines for Africa to help AU member states strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, ISP/operator and organizational level.

In Kenya, the Internet economy al- ready represents 3.6 per cent of the country’s GDP and in other developing countries 1.3 per cent of GDP comes from the Internet economy.

The McKinsey Global Institute pre- dicts that in addition to contributions to GDP, the Internet will deliver productiv- ity gains across Africa. These productiv- ity gains across six key sectors: nancial services, education, health, retail, agri- culture and government are projected to be valued at between $148 billion and $318 billion by 2025.

However, a thriving Internet econo- my in Africa could be put at risk by the increasing number of Internet shut- downs in the region.

In 2016 alone, there were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world. These shutdowns a ect indi- viduals and rms that depend on the Internet for their daily lives and have negative e ects on the economy.

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