The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital access and the inequality holding back children in Sub-Saharan Africa, says Richard Dzikunu.
As most countries are either in partial or complete lockdown, millions of people are reliant on the internet for work, healthcare, education, entertainment, social life, mental health services and so much more. However, the situation is different for people in Sub-Saharan Africa. The current pandemic has exposed the digital divide existing in our societies like never before.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 9.c calls for a significant increase in access to information and communication technology that is universal and affordable in the least developed countries by 2020. Five years into implementing the SDGs, COVID-19 reminds us that we are nowhere near reaching the goal. According to the World Bank only 1 in 5 in Sub-Saharan Africa has access to the internet.
Globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom forcing high schools and colleges around the world to resort to online classes using digital platforms such as Zoom and Skype. Whether and how young people in Sub-Saharan are able to access the internet and other remote learning tools depends on several factors: the community they belong to, their socio-cultural background, income, education and their ability to use information and communication technologies. Many young people brought up during the age of digital technology simply do not have the means, skills or access. They are being left behind.
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