As far as the digital cut-up or divide is concerned, Africa is known to be highly inferior when compared to all other poor and wealthy nations in the world. According to experts, the division remains extremely wide and this can be observed in a staggering manner. All over the world, more than 2.7 billion people live in the least developed and developing countries and these people lack meaningful connectivity which also remains very elusive. All of this is according to the United Nations report that was released last month at the 17th Internet Governance Forum held in Addis Ababa. The UN said that linking the gap serves as a channel to realize an open, secure, inclusive, and free internet while attaining 17 Sustainable Dev. Goals or SDGs.
Of all the countries of the world, Africa is known to be one of the many regions that still lack an internet connection. In fact, 60 percent of the country’s total population still remains devoid of the internet and without the ability to go online. Most people in the country are offline because they lack skills training and access. Not to mention that internet connection is also less likely affordable to the people of the country. But with the population of youths in Africa that’s starting to shoot up, there is a high possibility that the country’s digital future is going to be transformed substantially. According to the United Nations, youth empowerment is effective in allowing life within leapfrogging technologies and digital economy.
Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations declared that by placing correct policies in the right position, an unprecedented boost can be observed in the field of digital technology. This is highly relevant in promoting sustainable development specifically in countries that are categorized as poor and deplorable. In line with this, more connectivity is more encouraged with much lesser digital fragmentations, fewer barriers, and more links over digital divides. This would also mean a greater sense of autonomy, disinformation, and less abuse for common people. While the current pandemic caused digital transformation to rise, it also aggravated various forms of online inequality that run deep along economic and social lines.
The use of the internet in Africa is also more evident among males than females. Figures say that about 21 percent of the 60 percent are female users. Hence, Africa is also suffering from a gender divide as far as internet use is concerned. This means that internet usage is 4 times more evident among boys than girls. On the other hand, children, women, and other groups of individuals currently face discrimination, thereby causing them to be disproportionately affected.
What is really disheartening is that online offenders are less likely held responsible. This is not surprising in the sense that sexual exploitation and violence that take place online come without a universal standard that aims to stop and end online sexual abuse and exploitation. Prior to this, the United Nations say that it is highly required to come up with a brand-new global undertaking to defend and fortify human rights that run in the world of online interactions. Emma Gibson, the campaign leader for Universal Digital Rights and Equality Now said that everybody deserves freedom, dignity, and safety in the online world. She also added that the internet has to work for the interest of everybody, not against everyone.
Gibson also said that every root cause of every problem must be addressed properly, especially during the development and implementation of policies that ensure safe, secure, and universal internet access for all. A resilient and human-centered digital future does not only include the assurance of affordable internet access in Africa but secure and meaningful access to internet technologies as well.