Africa

The internet is changing Africa, mostly for the better

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Daniel Van Boom  |  C|Net

Widespread internet access is changing the African continent, largely thanks to the rise in smartphone ownership. Many Africans who are unable to afford costly broadband connections can now access the web for the first time, via sub-$50 Android phones. The rate of adoption continues to surge: A GSMA study predicts Africa will get 300 million new internet users by 2025. Africans say there’s much to be hopeful about. Basic internet services tangibly improve quality of life. Something as simple as an app that coaches women giving birth saves lives in countries like Ethiopia, where a vast majority give birth outside of health facilities. Rudimentary internet access can facilitate huge productivity boosts for agriculture workers around the continent; farmers, for instance, save precious time by accessing market prices through their phones instead of a physical trip into town.

But there are some consequences of internet adoption that could temper optimism. Africa is a continent historically beleaguered by authoritarianism, unrest and underdevelopment. The internet isn’t inherently a force for progress or disruption, but instead is a tool that can be used for either of those ends. Some of the internet’s applications are helping to build up Africa, while others are exacerbating the continent’s problems.

GSMA Study

Also this study

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