African youth share the same interests as youth in developed countries who need to have smartphones, access the internet, and use social networks. For this to happen on a larger scale, Africa needs to have access to affordable Internet.
Technology gurus such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Bono, agreed to support implementation of projects that promise to deliver universal Internet access. Facebook and Google have started unprecedented projects to make Internet more accessible and affordable in Africa and thus further digital inclusion. Facebook has launched the Free Basics App to enable mobile users to access the site free of data charges in 53 countries 23 of which are African countries. Google has implemented the Project Link to bring faster and more reliable Internet in Kampala, Uganda and Accra Ghana.
Whereas these projects are very welcome, it remains that the existing telecoms and ISPs in Africa are the key lead drivers of last mile connectivity by growing their 3G/4G networks and providing users improved data access speeds and reduced rates.
Digital Impact Awards Africa #DIAA2017 conducted research in which companies involved in providing connectivity and Internet access in Uganda were assessed on the initiatives they have undertaken over the last year to provide more affordable access to data services. The result of this exercise is the nominee for the “Commended Connectivity Initiative” namely
- #MYUG Free Wi-Fi
- Africell Triple Mbs
- Airtel Xtra Massape
- MTN JUZZA Internet
- RokeSpot Wi-Fi
- Vodafone “Shika More”
Commenting about the ” Commended Connectivity Initiative ” category, Innocent Kawooya, CEO HiPipo, noted that “The contenders for this award category are organizations and brands that made significant effort to extend more affordable data to customers either via a promotion, permanent prices plan or offering of innovative wi-fi products.” He added that “delivery of the connectivity is driven by availability of infrastructure from projects such as Google Project LINK, improved telecom fiber networks and the undersea internet cables running to the coast of East Africa ”
During the previous Digital Impact Awards Africa events, The Governor, Bank of Uganda – Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile officiated as Guest of Honour represented by Mr. Richard Mayebo, Executive Director of Information Technology (IT), Bank of Uganda. In his remarks on the theme “Regulatory Challenges in the use of ICTs to promote Financial Inclusion “ the Governor noted that Bank of Uganda looks forward to innovations that will promote financial inclusion, as well as the efficiency and safety of financial transactions.” With better connectivity, innovators and fintechs can deliver better user experience over mobile apps for financial services.
Commenting about Internet connectivity and congratulating this year’s “Commended Connectivity Initiative” nominees on this achievement, Hon. Karubanga David (State Minister for Public Service and Member of Parliament for Kigorobya) noted that “the NRM government has created a free trade and competitive economy that has been one of the factors attracting investment in telecommunication and other ICT ventures.” He added that “Additionally with some Public Private Partnerships, the government is supporting the improvement of fiber cable network across the county. This will further improve connectivity and access to government services will continue to be digitalized led and guided by government organs such as Ministry of ICT, UCC and NITA-U”
The 4th Digital and Financial Expo (#DiFiExpo) featuring Digital Impact Awards Africa (#DIAA2017), is scheduled for 21-22 September 2017 at Kampala Serena Hotel. The project includes an exhibition of innovations for products and services in the digital and financial services space and their application to the different economic sectors and industries such as agriculture, health, education, travel, hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, utility services etc.