The Internet of Things from the purview of development

Kibera Slum Nairobi, Kenya

Kibera Slum Nairobi, Kenya

In a rapid and fast changing world, it is quite safe to say that there still remains a portion of the world that does not fit into the constantly evolving picture, but are late adopters to development.

The breakout of the internet cum technology alongside the multi-dimensional and endless creativity it affords the average person, leaves us with the reality that the world has moved from being a global village, to becoming a global bedroom. The internet undoubtedly has come to stay.

One of the dreams and goals that were born out of this breakout was the plan to ensure that the internet is easily accessible to everyone on planet earth, which is a good thing considering the fact that this could aid development and also foster the ability to interact and network with other cultures. The only caveat might be the sinister known as cultural imperialism.

Tone Angsund and his team nurture the dream that by 2016 there will be free internet for everybody on planet earth, not necessarily because of the fun and connectivity it will bring, but because it is time for humanity to start giving the same opportunities to everybody.

Internet is maybe the one thing that can give every human being the chance to fill themselves with knowledge, to travel without taking a plane and interact with other cultures.

Tone observed that free global internet could be the start-over the world needs to change a planet in which only a small percentage can live with dignity.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, initiated internet.org which aims at bringing together technology leaders, non-profits and local communities to connect with the two thirds of the world that doesn’t have access to the internet. Knowing fully well that such laudable fit can’t be achieved singlehandedly, top-rated companies like Samsung, Nokia, and Ericsson have also subscribed to this vision.

Narrowing this goal down to Africa which apparently seems like the basis for the vision, research has shown that Africa has the lowest internet penetration rate (26.5%) with 9.8% internet users, there are impediments which constantly pose a threat to this dream and overtly stretch a supposedly short term goal.

Top amongst these impediments is Poverty, studies have shown that over the last 30 years, worldwide absolute poverty has fallen from about 40% to under 20% but has barely fallen or reduced in African countries as over 40% of people in sub-Saharan Africa still live in absolute poverty, although the African heritage and culture seems to serve as a respite from poverty, it will often look like a dilemma to an average African who would always think that except the issue of poverty is diligently tackled as various NGOs have continuously done, the vision might only be a fantasy or the herald of the internet in their community would serve as a medium for income generation than communication.

Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues have been able to initiate an ongoing solution in this regard with the launch of the internet.org app which provides basic services in markets where internet access may be less affordable. This app which allows people to browse selected health, employment and local information websites without data charges is presently finding expression in Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Colombia, Tanzania and India.

With the ratio of rural dwellers being greater than those in the urban regions, it will take concerted effort from a really focused and determined team to break through the barriers and many factors that come with poverty.

Next is the inadequate supply of electricity, the deplorable and dreadful state of power supply in the African terrain has been a taunting nightmare that has overtime grown to become a culture, it will be amazing to know that many Africans have not even set their eyes on light or power supply for more than two years. In a situation where there is little or shortage in power supply, the possibility of the Internet finding expression becomes slim. It is also worthy of note that some countries have tried breaking through the barrier of this menace and have subsequently succeeded. Countries like South Africa have been able to provide constant power supply but the large African populace still remain affected particularly countries with large population like Nigeria.

The goal of making the Internet to everyone living on planet earth is quite difficult but very much possible and in fulfilling this goal particularly in areas with low penetration there is need for an effective and adequate partnership with decision makers in each country. For there is no strait-jacket answer to tackle the problem confronting each society.

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