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Working together for Affordable Internet across Africa

The Internet is coming together for Fast, Affordable, Safe, and Transparent Internet for Africa.

If you’re under the age of 25, and reading this from an industrialized nation, chances are you don’t even remember a time before the Internet. Over the past couple decades, the Internet has become so interwoven with our everyday lives that most of us now take it for granted.

In an age where Internet access is increasingly seen as a basic right, it’s all too easy to forget that over 4 billion people around the world are still offline. According to the United Nations, that’s largely because only 34% of people in developing nations have Internet access, with many unconnected folks living in Africa. As our friends at Web We Want put it:

Africa is a fast continent. Africa hosts four of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world and it is the fastest growing market for mobile phones. It has the fastest beats, the fastest animals, the fastest athletes. BUT Africa has the fewest people online, and Internet access on the continent is the slowest and most expensive in the world.

That’s why Web We Want (a global initiative which brings together over 100 organizations, including OpenMedia) is working with the Alliance for Affordable Internet on a new campaign to unlock Africa’s full potential.

The FAST Africa Action Week for Internet Rights takes place from May 1 to 7, and will see an exciting range of grassroots events taking place right across the continent, as people come together to help ensure that affordable Internet is seen as a right of all. Highlights include:

  • Central African Republic: SPJ Labs are hosting a special radio program on the topic of Internet Access for All. (learn more)

  • Kenya: The Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Technology Law (CIPIT) will be launching an Africa ICT Policies database website at Strathmore University, Madaraka, Nairobi. (learn more)

  • Nigeria: An Internet Rights Conference in Ibadan will bring together policymakers, academia, civil society, youths, and students to discuss Internet rights and freedoms across Nigeria and Africa as a whole. (learn more)

  • Uganda: Youth at Risk Uganda is holding the 2016 Internet Affordability School Challenge as a means of reaching the youth and / or rural students to enhance their capacity to inform. The challenge takes place at Wampewo Secondary School, Wakiso District. (learn more)

Last but not least, the Web Foundation’s office in Cape Town will be making sure people across Africa and the globe can keep in touch with all the week’s activities by using #FASTAfrica on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s great to see so many people come together to ensure all Africans can have affordable access to the Internet. As Web We Want point out, there’s not a moment to lose if we’re to succeed in meeting the UN’s universal goal of Internet access for all by 2020.

And, of course, these exciting grassroot initiatives are an inspiring counterbalance to attempts by giant companies like Facebook to funnel users in developing nations into fake, gatekeeper-controlled versions of the Internet. Pro-Internet advocates in India recently won a historic victory against Facebook’s “Free Basics” program and, as our own Steve Anderson suggests, we all have a lot to learn from this big win.

Let’s hope that #FASTAfrica pushes companies like Facebook to up their game and focus on directly supporting initiatives to ensure everyone can access the real Internet, instead of their walled-garden version — just as we and 30 other organizations asked them to do in our Open Letter to Mark Zuckerberg.

In the meantime, wherever you live in the world, be sure to keep up with all the action next week by checking out #FASTAfrica on Facebook and Twitter, along with Web We Want’s dedicated campaign page.


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