The Internet Society is Committed to Expanding Internet Access in Africa
As the Internet Society (ISOC) celebrates its 30th anniversary as a global non-profit organization advocating for an open and globally connected Internet, the organization calls for accelerated action to continue the development of Internet throughout the African region.
At the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) 2022 taking place in Kigali, Rwanda under the theme “Connecting the Unconnected to Achieve Sustainable Development”, Dawit Bekele, Regional Vice President of the Internet Society in Africa, welcomed progress made by stakeholders in expanding access across the continent, while encouraging more collaborative efforts to bridge the digital divide.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the strongest growth in global Internet penetration, rising from less than 1% in 2000 to 30% today. Between 2019 and 2021, internet usage in Africa jumped by 23%. Despite this impressive growth, there is still a coverage gap of more than 840 million people who lack access to reliable and affordable internet access.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of internet connectivity, which has been an essential lifeline for the continuity of business, healthcare, education, government and other critical activities.
We applaud the significant investments over the past decades to develop Internet infrastructure, which have made the Internet accessible to more people across the continent. However, the pandemic is also highlighting the remaining digital divide, especially in rural, remote and even urban areas around the world,” said Dawit Bekele.
In Ghana in particular, ISOC has a local chapter that continues to develop an Internet exchange point and organizes technical training events to encourage and promote Internet policies, standards and protocols that keep the Internet open, connected to the Internet. globally and secure.
Community networks are a way to help bridge the digital divide.
They are communications infrastructure built, managed and used by local communities and are a sustainable solution to fill connectivity gaps in underserved areas. The Internet Society has a long history of working with communities around the world to fund, create, and train people with the skills to manage and maintain community networks.
In Africa, the Internet Society has helped create community networks in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Namibia, Morocco, Senegal, and Ethiopia.
At WTDC, the organization will commit to supporting 100 complementary solutions to connect the unconnected and train 10,000 people to build and maintain internet infrastructure, all by 2025 as part of the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, a initiative led by the European International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that aims to drive meaningful connectivity and digital transformation in the hardest-to-connect communities around the world.
Interconnection between local networks, content providers and users is also essential to the expansion of the Internet throughout Africa. Currently, millions of dollars are spent every year to route local internet traffic over expensive international links. This not only makes the Internet slower and more expensive for Internet users, but it also limits the types of applications that can run on the local Internet. For this reason, the Internet Society has been at the forefront of supporting the creation and growth of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) that enable and encourage local traffic.
ISOC research shows that IXPs improve the end-user experience, reduce the cost of access, and stimulate the development of local Internet ecosystems and cross-border interconnections. By improving local Internet services and reducing their costs, well-managed IXPs open up new worlds of possibilities with a modest investment.