(This blog originally appeared on the Web Foundation site.)
“Everyone deserves to be connected to a FAST Internet — one which is Fast, Affordable, Safe and Transparent. Nowhere is this need more urgent than in Africa, where four in five people remain offline today – with severe implications for democracy, health, education and business. The time to turn platitudes into practical action is now — businesses and governments alike must up their game.”
That’s the message Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema will be taking to delegates at the World Economic Forum on Africa gathering this week in Kigali. Joined by two African activists, Nanjira Sambuli and Busayo Obisakin, Anne will be delivering the results of the Web Foundation’s #FASTAfrica Week of Action, which took place last week. The campaign saw more than 60 events take place across 20 countries, with thousands of people coming together at parties, workshops, hackathons and more to debate Africa’s digital future and demand change from leaders. Although the campaign’s focus was on offline events, many thousands more joined in online, with tens of millions of impressions generated on social media.
— WebWeWant (@webwewant) May 4, 2016
Anne will be asking the business and government leaders in attendance in Kigali to take three initial steps:
- Sign the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms. At the same time as we invest in connectivity, it is urgently important to establish solid foundations for a safe, resilient, universal and open Internet. Both businesses and governments should review and commit to this home-grown initiative
- Commit to ensure that inability to pay won’t stop anyone getting online. Broadband costs must drop to less than 2% of average monthly income for 1 GB of prepaid mobile data. Ample public access points should be provided for those who can’t afford to pay. Concrete targets must be set for closing the gender and poverty gaps in Internet use.
- Invest more and better. The connectivity challenge is going to require a significant ramping up of investment, from both the public and private sectors. To make the best use of this capital, business should adopt forward-looking practices — for instance sharing of infrastructure, flexible spectrum use, and transparency in pricing and reporting. (Click here for more detailed policy recommendations.)