Digital services and the internet as a whole are very much at the heart now of how the public, economic, and social life run. It has transformed how people work, communicate, learn, entertain, and access information and public services, to mention a few.
And while it’s become integral to all aspects of life, the spread of access and use is uneven and many people remain digitally excluded
Sub-Saharan Africa has not been at its best about access to compelling online content. This issue has mainly been liked to why millions of people in the region have no access to digital products and services.
The concern was amplified in a Mobile Broadband Inclusion Roundtable that was held by Huawei. The online event was graced by Head of Sub-Saharan Africa for GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck who reiterated that relevant and customized content targeted for specific markets was key in bringing more people online.
“We have to promote content that is relevant, including language sensitive content, content that adds value, and content which is socially and locally relevant and brings people first internet experience and good experience to bring them back, to ensure them to see the value in buying data bundles,” said Akinwale Goodluck.
Local companies have been trying to bridge the aforementioned gap, with some of them offering free internet services to select regions in Nairobi and its environs.
Telkom Kenya, for instance, has been offering free internet connectivity to members of Nairobi CBD.
Airtel Kenya has also been working with publisher Longhorn by offering free e-learning for students in primary and secondary schools.
Safaricom has also partnered with education content providers such as Shupavu291, E-learning, and Viusasa for free access to digital learning material, enabling primary and secondary school learners to take online lessons for free.
During his presentation, Akinwale Goodluck noted the importance of governments taking some of their work online in an effort to spur additional digital inclusion. To this end, he called on telecoms operators and governments to work together and improve existing services.
“It is not necessarily about affordability, if they have compelling reasons, they will go, so there is a lot of work for everybody to do,” Goodluck said.
In the same spirit, Huawei has been trying to address digital content access challenges during the pandemic. It has been providing university students through their ICT Academies online ICT courses in Routing and Switching, WLAN, Security, and Cloud Computing.
Those who complete their online courses are also provided with cash and data bundles as incentives for their progress.
“If the content is right, the relevance is proven and compelling enough, people will reflect all the cost of the access, and they will go online and do what they need to do as long as it is profitable, rewarding and they can see the value in it,” Goodluck said.