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Is internet restrictions holding economic growth in Africa?

by Staff Writer
15 Aug 2021 at 08:24hrs | Views
Internet shutdowns have affected Africans drastically. From tiny tasks like paying bills to bigger implications like hampering economic growth, internet restrictions in Africa have affected all Africans in one way or another. Recently, the Zambian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services recently commented that till now, they have not tampered with internet access. However, they would take legal action if the internet is used for spreading misinformation. The story of the internet shutdown is similar in different other countries like Zambia, Eswatini, Nigeria, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

Internet Restrictions Is Holding Africa's Economic Growth
A non-profit group report has revealed that there is a need to increase internet access in the country in an attempt to boost the economy especially after the hard-hit of COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, only one in five Africans has access to the internet. Even though Africans are trying to engage in online trade to improve the monetary condition, such practice has been discouraged by the government through both frequent internet shutdowns and high taxes.
Lack Of Internet Access In South Africa Is Also Affecting Vaccine Uptake
For countries from all across the globe, technology has played a crucial role in the entire vaccination drive of COVID-19 including supply and distribution of vaccination and monitoring of vaccination. On similar lines, the digital divide results in unequal access to high-speed internet and also, lack of computers and smartphones is affecting the vaccination drive. This scenario is particularly true for the rural population and older demographic. Without having a proper internet connection, it becomes difficult for people to book for vaccine appointments and further, the information surrounding both the vaccines and virus get missing. As a result, the awareness surrounding it goes missing and it fails to gain the confidence of the citizens and they get issues to trust the vaccine.

The religious groups in Africa are trying their best to ensure that not only the rich and the people who have digital connections are getting the vaccination. Information campaigns are being carried out by the volunteers to spread information to help the people take the vaccination. Along with spreading the right information about the importance of taking the vaccination, the volunteers are helping the people to register themselves to take the vaccination. UNICEF is also trying its best to spread awareness by sharing information about the vaccination in the local language in the area.

Internet Can Boost African Economy
A study by International Foundation Corporation in 2020 has revealed if internet usage is boosted in the African countries, the African economy can grow by $180 billion. However, the government should take initiative to make the internet friendly for its users. The government of Africa is pushing the business backward with its control on the internet. Currently, only 20% of the African population have access to an internet connection. Also, with frequent blackouts of the internet, people are using additional means to access the internet. Also, the internet speed is low, and the users prefer to customize the router setting either by accessing or for prioritizing the tasks that require high-speed internet. Also, there is an urgent need to expand the current internet infrastructure to the rural areas of the continent to ensure as much digital connection as possible.

Digital Economy Holds Power To Boost Livelihood Opportunities
With more than 262 million young people, Africa has been declared as the most youthful continent. It should also be noted that the unemployment rate in Africa is extremely high and this situation can be changed using Information and Communication Technology. Heavy investment is required in the digital sector in order to increase employment opportunities for the youth. The digital economy not only provides jobs to individual people but also encourages micro, small and medium enterprises to grow.

The importance of the digital economy has become all the more important during and after COVID-19 where people are working and studying remotely. Ensuring equal access to the internet is the need of the hour to ensure that the economy recovers and maintains its stand to compete with the global economy. The citizens alone cannot do anything about it until the government realizes the importance and creates an internet-friendly system to boost the digital economy of the continent which will have a positive impact on top opportunities, health and economic sectors of the continent.

Source - Byo24News