Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Android could finally give Africans access to ICT

There has been many initiatives to increase the penetration of ICT in Africa. For many years the lack of high capacity backbone and access network has made internet connectivity very expensive for ordinary Africans but with the arrival of Optical Fibers connecting most African countries to the worldwide web and the build out of 3G mobile networks the focus is now increasingly moving to the terminals as the One Laptop per Child initiative is an example of.

Cheap mobile phones is now the most commonly used device to access the Internet and with a penetration of Internet enabled phones of between 15% and 25% in most African countries the Internet has finally started to reach the masses. According to Internet World Statistics 15.6% of all Africans now have access to the Internet:

Even though phones enable users to check their email, update Facebook and use instant messaging they still don’t offer the full access to the Internet and IT technology. Android Tablets do however hold the promise to change this.

Tablets are cheaper than PC’s, They have battery and low power consumption which is key in Africa where many areas are not connected to the grid.

Another major cost that has hampered the use of IT technology in Africa is the high cost of software but again Android offers a solution to this. There are thousands of free applications which addresses most need of students or low income users like free office packages, programming packages etc. Some African countries has even made school books available in soft format enabling students to read the whole school curriculum on their tablets.

In India the Government has introduced a program to give students subsidized Tablets in order to make sure that children are exposed to IT Technology as early as possible. With a subsidy of $25 the price for an Android Tablet is $35 which makes it affordable for many students. A similar program could connect 1 million African students at a cost of 25 million. Not a fortune if there were the political will to make sure that the next generation of Africans are prepared to compete in the connected world.

No comments:

Post a Comment