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Internet access rises but gaps remain

from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI – EVEN with the impressive growth in mobile internet connectivity globally, stakeholders must accelerate work to bridge the digital divide.

This is according to the State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021, launched by the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), released in Kigali, Rwanda at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Africa.

The report notes that more than half of the world’s population of over 7,9 billion is now using the mobile internet.

Mobile internet usage translates to slightly over 4 billion connected people. This is 225 million more compared to 2019, and up from a third of people globally six years ago.

However, concern remains over the digital divide.

Of the 3,8 billion people who remain unconnected, only 450 million people do not live in areas with mobile broadband coverage.

The far bigger challenge is the 3,4 billion people who live in areas that are already covered by mobile broadband but are not using it.

“While more people than ever are now using the mobile internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using mobile internet,” John Giusti, GSMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, said.

He called on government and industry to close the gaps and address key barriers to usage of mobile internet services, most notably literacy and digital skills as well as affordability.

“Only through targeted and collaborative action can we bridge the digital divide,” Giusti said.

MWC Africa 2021 ends on Thursday.

This year’s theme is, “Powering a Continent.”

– CAJ News

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