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Campaign mobilised to entrench internet as fundamental human right

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Africa , 19 Apr 2021

UNICEF is among several collaborators behind the launch of #UnmuteTheWorld, a global campaign organised to promote internet access as a fundamental human right and also increase access to in key regions including Sub-Saharan Africa.

Campaign organisers released a statement detailing its objective to ensure that 3.7-billion people are connected. It also urged governments and multilateral agencies to recognise the internet as a fundamental right, and invest in the necessary policies, programmes and infrastructure - from expanding online bandwidth to investing in widespread literacy and adoption, to ensuring that all people can access, afford, use and benefit from digital technologies.

Additionally, donors and funders should increase financial assistance to programmes seeking to bridge the digital divide, while businesses are requested “design innovations, product and initiatives with accessibility and inclusivity in mind to maximise positive impact.”

A statement by the campaigners said in 2019, only ten out of 45 African countries tracked by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) were able to afford internet connectivity.

It added that nine out of every ten children of school-going age in Sub-Saharan Africa does not have access to the internet.

David Gold, CEO of Global Health Strategies and said, “In this increasingly virtual world, internet access should not be a luxury but a human right.”

The campaign was launched in April during the inaugural Virtual Meeting Day to mark the anniversary of the first two-way video call which took place 91 years ago in the USA.

Organisers added that today, nearly a century later, virtual meetings are a daily norm with 87% of people in wealthy countries connected to the internet, 47% in developing nations and just 19% in least developed countries.

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