Is the open internet in Africa a risk? Here's how to save it

Internet is an important part of everyone's life today. During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have learned about the true potential of the internet and how it can completely change their lives.

Africa is known as the second largest and most populous continent in the world, which means ideally there should be a large internet user base. But the irony is that Africans have the least internet access. According to reports, about 2% of people have access to the internet.

So the question is: Why is this in Africa? And what should African leaders do to improve the situation? Let's take a look at them in this article.

What is a global, open and free internet?

Before we move on to the reasons for the internet situation in Africa, let's first understand what it means to be a global, open and free internet.

An open internet means that everyone should have access to all content on the internet without the interference of government agencies. This means that certain websites or social media platforms will not be blocked and certain types of content will not be affected, such as: B. slowing down video streaming. In addition, the open internet promises that there will be no throttling, i.e. not delaying websites.

In addition, the open Internet offers various opportunities for countries in terms of economy, education, employment, etc. The greatest benefit that African countries can offer is in the field of tourism. Around 1.04 million people have visited African countries since the pandemic, indicating the potential for huge economic gains.

Therefore, the availability of an open, free and global internet is very important for Africa because it has the full potential to use it.

Why is Africa struggling with internet problems?

The three main reasons for the unavailability of internet in African countries are as follows:

The high cost of internet; One of the main reasons for slow internet connections is the high cost of data plans. Obviously, spending more money on something still gets you less service, which is the main reason many people stop using the Internet. Many Africans spend up to 7% of their average monthly income on 1 GB of data.

Bad infrastructure; It's not just the high cost of buying a data plan that prevents people from using the internet in Africa. The fact that the speed and connectivity is still subpar even after buying a good internet plan makes things worse.

 No local content available; Another reason for the low rate of internet penetration is the lack of local content. Since there is no variety of content available online, people find it less useful and remain segregated, which adds to the poor connectivity across the African continent.

What can African governments do?

The Internet access situation in Africa has improved in recent times, but it is still not enough. Internet penetration in Africa was 43.2% at the end of the first quarter of 2021, a significant increase over previous years.

However, simple internet access is not enough; it must be open and unencumbered and operable. Only then can people in Africa realize the absolute potential of the Internet.

Steps that African governments can now take include the following:

Infrastructure improvement: The government needs to focus on better infrastructure. This will increase the number of Internet users in African countries, generate more income for the country and encourage innovation among Africans.

Promotion of more private market players: The government should encourage more domestic and foreign companies to enter the market. This will increase competition between them, create a healthy ecosystem for customers, and create more jobs for people.

Promoting digital literacy: Another important thing African governments can do is promote digital literacy. As more people know how to use the internet to change their lives, more and more of them will use the internet more often, which means more local content will be available online.

In addition, much of this training should cover common online hazards. Digital tracking and surveillance, for example, is an unfortunate problem in the digital world. That's why it's important that people know how to defend themselves. For example, a VPN for browsing is a must for all users trying to maintain privacy online. VPN encrypts your internet traffic and hides your IP address. These changes increase your privacy and anonymity, and major technology companies receive less information about your digital identity.

Stop Internet Censorship: After all, African governments need to limit Internet censorship so that anyone can access anything online without government imposed restrictions. It became easier for Africans to express themselves freely and exchange ideas.

Africa has great potential for innovation and progress. But with millions of Africans still lacking access to the internet, the continent could miss out on this opportunity. Therefore, African governments and private actors need to work together to bring a more open internet to Africa so that everyone can benefit.

Source : business insider Africa

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