The Next Wave: Can Africans afford it?
|This weekend, I was reminded of how powerful the internet can be for Africans’ financial independence. Short story: this librarian in southeast Nigeria set up Google alerts for news on crypto art. Four years and a pandemic later, he’s quietly minting USDs from an impressive catalogue of digital art through blockchain-powered marketplaces. He is a first-mover on the craze of the moment – NFTs.I will tell the longer version of this story on TechCabal so look out for it!For now, let’s talk about improving internet access and affordability in Africa. How do we get more Africans to take advantage of the possibilities on the web through low-cost data? The 2020 Affordability Report by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) throws up some ideas.|
Here’s one declaration from the report that doesn’t surprise: COVID-19 exposed “shocking inequalities” in internet access and affordability across the globe. For example, inequalities in the adoption of remote learning.
Generally, many households struggled with remote learning, especially working mothers. But children from wealthier families were better equipped to tune in and benefit; others had to make do with radio.
Like the pandemic-enabled boom in online shopping, increase in remote learning fuels optimism for Africa’s digital economy. More money was raised for edtech in 2020 than ever before. But affordable internet is crucial for edtech’s viability and how any digital economy performs.
If expected users cannot afford data, even the best funded startups won’t be as successful as they can be. Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo and similar cities will remain the main markets, while people in Bakassi, Turkana and Matabeleland are cut off from the global village.
There’s a clear problem here. So, how do we solve it? By now, it is clear that Africa’s internet access and affordability aspirations cannot depend on charity from Big Tech – after Google’s internet balloons burst – or altruistic aid from nations fighting world-power wars.
Click on the link below for full report