Ensuring everyone has the opportunity to connect is more critical now than ever before. In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are 780 million people who are still unconnected to mobile internet. Despite substantial increases in coverage over the last decade, 53 per cent of those living in areas covered by mobile broadband are not using it. Those who are unconnected are more likely to be women, people with low income, less educated, living in rural areas, and persons with disabilities. In fact, the mobile internet gender gap in Sub-Saharan Africa has seen little change in recent years, with women 37 per cent less likely than men to use mobile internet. These numbers highlight that while increasing mobile broadband coverage remains an important issue, addressing the gap in usage, especially for women, is key to closing the digital divide. Targeted and informed action is required to ensure that no one is left behind in an increasingly connected world.
This session will look at the latest data and trends on the digital divide in Africa and discuss what can be done to accelerate internet adoption, especially for women. It will bring together key partners from the private sector and government for an interactive discussion on strategies for reaching the underserved. This will include the key issue of handset affordability – a critical barrier to mobile ownership and internet access.
This work is supported by both The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom Government and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.