Access to digital technology

The digital divide in Africa has been a significant challenge, particularly for underserved communities and persons with disabilities. According to the 2022 Digital Rights and Inclusion Report by Paradigm Initiative, access to digital technology in Africa remains a massive challenge for these groups, and there is a need for improvement. This report discusses the state of digital rights and inclusion on the continent, highlighting the significant gaps and areas that need improvement.

The report highlights the state of digital rights and inclusion on the African continent, emphasizing the challenges faced by underserved communities and persons with disabilities. It calls for action to improve digital inclusion and reduce the digital divide.

The Digital Divide and Access to Digital Opportunities

Despite efforts by governments to bridge the digital divide and build digital economies, men continue to outrank women in various indices, from the adoption and use of ICT tools to employment opportunities. The report also points out that access to digital opportunities by women and girls, including Information Communication Technology (ICT) education, requires improvement. Prohibitive levies and taxes have further impeded general access, as seen in Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda.

Lack of Tangible Laws and Strategies

The author of the Kenyan report, Ms. Jackie Okello, noted that Kenya does not have a tangible law that tackles internet access. However, the country has a broadband strategy that lays down the government’s plans on how to facilitate broadband access in areas not covered by the internet.

Universal Service Fund (USF)

The Universal Service Fund (USF) exists in 22 out of 24 countries reported in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tunisia, Uganda, Togo, The Gambia, Tanzania, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Benin, South Sudan, Namibia and Botswana. However, information on the amount of funds raised, transparency, and impact varies widely among the 22 countries.

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Data Privacy and Governance

The report also discusses the issues surrounding data privacy and governance and the lack of accountability and oversight mechanisms for digital identification systems. Only 17 out of the 24 countries reported have data protection legislation in place, and some have data protection bills with varying levels of progress toward implementation. While the Central African Republic has no specific data legislation and relies on provisions of existing bills, South Sudan has no data legislation or framework.

Internet Freedom

During the period under review, Ghana was reported by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) to be the most repressive West African country in the first quarter of 2022, with 11 violations of press freedom recorded, followed by Nigeria with five violations. In contrast, Botswana took a pro-Internet freedom stance with no credible reports of Internet disruptions, government interference, or the use of digital technologies for political repression or social control, while Malawi decriminalized sedition and related offenses. Angola had challenges with Internet freedom as Internet access remained expensive.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) gain traction, awareness, and adoption are growing on the continent. The report discusses how AI has the potential to contribute to digital inclusion in Africa, but there is a need to ensure that AI technologies are ethically developed and deployed.

The report provides recommendations covering a range of stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society, governments, the media, and academia. By implementing these recommendations and working together, stakeholders can build a strong and sustainable digital environment in Africa where everyone can exercise their rights online.

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Nigel Jr.
As a tech enthusiast and expert, Nigel Jr. is dedicated to providing in-depth and insightful content on all things technology. With a background in online journalism, product reviewing, and tech creation, Nigel has become a trusted source for all things tech.

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