While there have been strides in closing the gap, internet penetration across Africa is only 15.6 percent (as of December 2012). It is obvious that the major challenge of growth in social media and digital innovation throughout developing markets is basic access to internet. In this series Kwabena Oppong Boateng will highlight 5 key innovations and ideas being used to tackle the problem of low internet accessibility across the continent.
Alliance for Affordable Internet launches – The Alliance for Affordable Internet brings together prominent players from both the private & public sector to provide a unified voice and coordinated focus in addressing the shared goal of open, affordable access to the Internet in the developing world. The ultimate goal is to raise net penetration rates to at least 40% across all countries. The initiative is sponsored by global partners Google, Omidyar Network, UK DFID and USAID and supported by a host of governments, tech companies and civil organisations from across the world. A4AI even has the support of World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Learn more here.
Google tests innovative ways of making internet accessible to all. – Way back in March, Google announced a TV white spaces trial that will provide broadband connectivity to ten schools in and around Cape Town, South Africa. According to science and lifestyle site The Verge, the launching of the test network is Google’s most direct effort yet to demonstrate the potential of white spaces (unused channels in TV spectrum) as a means of delivering faster internet connectivity to rural areas. It should be noted that Microsoft has a similar initiative.
Google wants to bring affordable internet to Africa through Project Loon. – Project Loon launched in June 2013 by Google, is a network of high tech balloons traveling on the edge of space. The massive balloons are outfitted with technology designed to allow people in remote areas to connect to the internet. Envisioned as a way to fill coverage gaps created by traditional networking infrastructure, Project Loon also aims to be a solution for bringing people back online after disasters. According to it’s website Project Loon will continue to develop the technology after the success of an experimental pilot program tested last summer in rural New Zealand. Check out the amazing video
A BRCK (brick) that will solve Africa’s internet connectivity problems? The Kenyan tech company behind this device thinks so. – Steady connectivity, even when infrastructure is spotty due to wireless connections, intermittent power, or devices that can’t share connections is essential. Seeing this, Kenya’s superstar non-profit tech company Ushahidi set out to redesign connectivity for Africa. The BRCK is an internet connectivity tool offering resilient connectivity in the toughest conditions. Raising over $170,000 USD via a Kickstarter campaign this project has the support of people from Nairobi to New York. Watch this and let us know what you think.
Rwanda rolls out free wireless in bid for business boom. – Once again Rwanda leads the way with innovation in Africa. Last month the Rwandan government announced it had started to cover the lush green, rolling hills of it’s capital city with wireless hotspots. This was the first step of a plan to provide wifi coverage to all schools and public buildings, markets, bus stations and hotels in the city and, in the long-term, to the entire country.
In an article to the Daily Nation, Rwanda’s minister of Information Technology, Jean Philibert Nsengimana said he wanted to see the plan “accelerate growth of the Internet sector” and attract more investors.
Do you think other African countries should follow suit?