Africa: Continent must work together to ease internet access – experts | Panda Anku

Affordable and easily accessible internet in Africa remains a challenge in most countries, mainly due to a lack of cooperation between nations and technology players in this area.

To address the challenges, tech giants, internet experts and government officials from Africa and beyond are gathering in Kigali for a four-day gathering of the 11 digital divide and cheaper internet.

The meeting was jointly organized by the Internet Society and the Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA).

Opening the meeting, State Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Yves Iradukunda, said that broadband internet access and usage has a profound impact on improving service delivery across all sectors of the economy.

This has an impact on people’s quality of life, he said.

“Today, the use of the Internet enables better outcomes in learning, in the delivery of health services, in better management of our energy resources, and in achieving greater citizen engagement with governments,” he said.

Iradukunda also pointed out that over the past decade, Rwanda has invested heavily in the provision of high-speed connectivity, which has enabled rapid development and development of community e-services, service delivery and promotion of the cashless agenda.

“To encourage adoption, Rwanda is revising broadband policy with the aim of creating additional opportunities and introducing other tools to leverage broadband penetration on both the supply and demand sides of the ecosystem,” Iradukunda said.

However, Africa still struggles with some challenges and according to the Secretary of State, the region’s poor infrastructure gap, particularly in digital infrastructure, remains a major obstacle to realizing the vision of connecting all African citizens to the internet.

“The digital divide prevents society from reaping the benefits of information and communication technologies. In this context, measures to promote physical internet access are still necessary, but not enough to create a truly inclusive information society.

The meeting’s experts are also exploring how to accelerate the exchange of traffic locally via Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) to reduce Internet access costs and network delays, and increase content access speeds.

According to Michuki Mwangi, senior director of internet technology and development at the Internet Society, one of the biggest challenges facing Africa as a continent is that much of the traffic consumed came, or still comes, from outside Africa, which is expensive.

“Addressing this will require collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure content is available locally and to build an infrastructure that will enable Africa to share content locally. This impacts the cost and resilience of internet infrastructure and improves end-user experience,” said Mwangi.