Rapid advancements in Information Communication Technologies (ICT) over the past 20 years has substantially altered the ways in which people live, work, play and interact with one another. The World Bank’s World Development Report shows that ICT has a positive effect on a country’s economy, with a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration being associated with a 1.4 per cent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in emerging markets.
Digitisation also has the greatest employment effect. According to the World Bank statistics, every 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration will lead to two per cent to three per cent increase of employment rate. In 2016, China’s digital economy created 2.8 million jobs, accounting for 21 per cent of the total new jobs; Japanese government’s 2015 White Paper on Information and Communications indicates, if small businesses can fully adopt ICT technologies such as cloud services, they will be able to create about 200 000 jobs.
Similarly, research shows a 90 per cent correlation can be seen between investments in ICT and a country’s’ success in meeting several key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The African Union Agenda 2063 has acknowledged the importance of Digital Inclusivity for African countries to bring the continent on par with the rest of the world as an information society.
However, challenges persist in the availability, accessibility and affordability including geographic challenges of reaching small, remote communities, poverty and lack of basic knowledge and skills. Statistics from GSMA shows that, approximately 53 per cent of the world’s population is still unconnected, and 80 per cent of the unconnected population is located in Asia-Pacific and in Africa. On average, 69 per cent of the African population do not have access to internet, with many of those unconnected living in rural areas.