Africa Urged to Invest in Resilient Internet

The Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Antonio Pedro, has said that investing in resilient internet infrastructure is crucial to achieving digital inclusion across Africa.

African countries have been urged to invest in building resilient internet infrastructure to tap digital opportunities and accelerate social and economic transformation on the continent.

Pedro said this at the seventh Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, underscoring the importance of digital technologies as tools for enhancing development across Africa.

According to him, closing the digital infrastructure gap and achieving digital literacy will not only present avenues for growth but also speed up the continent’s socioeconomic development.

‘The lack of digital and literacy skills is another key barrier to achieving digital inclusion’, Pedro said

‘These skills gaps have been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, where the expansion of online education, e-healthcare, e-commerce and remote work, have left a large portion of the population without internet access even further behind’.

He noted that 871 million people across Africa are estimated not to be connected to the internet and access was even limited in rural areas.

Though 70 percent of Africa’s population technically has access to mobile internet, less than 25 percent are making use of the internet due to the high cost of mobile internet across the continent.

Pedro added that the need for meaningful digital connectivity to boost sustainable development, particularly for the Least Developing Countries (LDCs), has never been more urgent.

‘Now is the time to double down on our effort to close the digital infrastructure gap, and to leverage digital technologies to power key initiatives in support of achieving a greener and more inclusive digital world, and a just and sustainable development for all’, he added.

‘The implementation of digital technologies should progressively and continually mirror key principles of inclusion, representation and accessibility…private sector involvement to spur digital development, specifically infrastructure development, will leapfrog socio-economic development’.

For his part, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Li Junhua, while giving his remarks, said the internet is a springboard to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through digital empowerment.

‘Digital technologies and the internet are serving as engines of growth and providers of essential services including the support to e-government and growing economies.

‘The digital frontier is where the truly transformational power will be realised and the important space for accelerating projects towards the SDGs’.

The IGF is a global multistakeholder platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the internet.

Source: ECA

Photo source: ICSI


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