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Digital divide

2019

Huawei announced its digital inclusion initiative, Tech4ALL at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019. During his speech at the ministerial program of the MWC, Deputy Chairman of Huawei, Ken H, underscored how digital inclusion should be more comprehensive. ‘While much of the telecommunications industry is focused on next generation technology like 5G and AI,’ Hu said, ‘we can't forget that there are still many people excluded from the digital world. There are still more than 3.8 billion people who are offline, and one billion people without mobile broadband coverage.’ To this aim, Tech4ALL is crafted to tackle digital inclusion for individuals and organisations equally through addressing: (a) connectivity: providing remote areas and extreme climates to access digital resources, (b) applications: providing an easy-to-use development platform, thriving in the ecosystem, and generating applications, and (c) skills: improving the digital capabilities of organisations, local communities, and national digital economies. Huawei further acknowledged that digital inclusion necessitates collaboration between governments, industry organisations, and enterprises to provide the required technology that meets the needs of local communities as well as different groups and organisations.

Through Facebook Connectivity, Facebook is launching several initiatives in partnership with global operators, equipment manufacturers among other partners to provide high-quality Internet connectivity to more people. The initiatives aim at giving more people a voice, strengthening communities, and creating new economic opportunities. They include: (a) new partnerships and technologies to extend rural connectivity in Peru and Mexico, (b) open source technology to enable new operator business models – Magma in Latin America, (c) new investments in fiber connectivity in Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda (d) Express wi-fi  platform to provide people with fast, affordable, and reliable access to the Internet, and (e) high-speed connectivity to urban and suburban communities through growing the millimeter-wave gigabit wireless ecosystem with Terragraph in Malaysia, Brazil, California, and Greece. Through these initiatives, Facebook endeavors to address some of the global Internet connectivity challenges of accessibility, affordability, and relevance through a multi-faceted approach.

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) released its 2019 Gender Gap Mobile Report which hinges on 20 000 face-to-face surveys commissioned by GSMA Intelligence across 18 low and middle-income countries. According to the report, 80% of women in low and middle-income countries own mobile devices. And, 48% of those women use mobile to get internet access. ‘We are seeing significantly increased mobile access for women, however in an increasingly connected world, women are still being left behind,’ noted Mats Granryd, Director General of GSMA. ‘While mobile connectivity is spreading quickly, it is not spreading equally. Unequal access to mobile technology threatens to exacerbate the inequalities women already experience.’ Such inequality is attributed to affordability, literacy and digital skills, a perceived lack of relevance, and safety and security. The study suggests that closing the gender gaps in low and middle-income countries could be an important commercial opportunity for the mobile industry since it could provide an estimated additional US$140 billion in revenue to the over the next five years.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been signed by Ghanaian Celltel Networks, Roberta Annan Consulting (RAC), and the Chinese government’s international co-operation company (CEIEC) to collaborate on a Ghana Smart Cities project branded ArisCel that would enable nationwide wi-fi. The project is focused on leveraging the wi-fi network for the provision of affordable nationwide access to citizens that will align with the delivery of paperless services at government institutions.

A partnership between Vodafone Ghana and Facebook has been formed in order to provide affordable access to Ghanaian citizens through the deployment of express wi-fi hotspots across the country. The project aims to bring low-cost wi-fi services to underserved areas, while hoping to remove access barriers and enable increased entrepreneurial activity

According to a report, Facebook announced the ‘Going Online As Leaders’ (GOAL) programme, which seeks to empower, guide, and inspire tribal girls across selected communities in India to become young digital leaders in their communities.

According to the report, the programme which will run in the states of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh, will nurture and train young girls from India’s tribal villages on core competency areas such as digital literacy, life skills, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

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