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#DataMustFall message spreads

By , IT in government editor
Africa , 23 Nov 2016

#DataMustFall message spreads

More than half of the world's population is being left behind and remains offline as a result of unaffordable data prices.

This is the word from Dhanaraj Thakur, research manager at the Alliance for Affordable Internet, speaking during a panel discussion at the 2016 World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium in Gaborone, Botswana.

Thakur said the issue of data prices is very important when talking about getting people online.

He said: "The problem is that prices are not decreasing at fast enough rates, particularly in developing nations, so that Internet services can become affordable for the rest of the population.

"Lower prices have been associated with increased access to broadband services as well as increased Internet use and intense usage, which is very important to recognise."

On Tuesday, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) unveiled the 2016 Measuring the Information Society report, which showed many people continue to be excluded from the global information society, and relatively high cost of ICT remains one of the main barriers.

According to the ITU, the world's Internet user base currently stands at 47.1%, and it is expected to reach the 50% mark next year.

The report found monitoring prices is critical for developing policies that aim to make ICT services affordable for all citizens. "The decrease in mobile broadband prices goes hand-in-hand with increase in the intensity of use."

Cosmas Zavazava, chief of department, projects and knowledge management at the ITU, noted mobile broadband in Africa is on the rise.

In the African region, mobile broadband is growing very fast, which is good as this tends to push Internet penetration, he commented.

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