#FASTAfrica, a new campaign to demand an internet that is faster, more accessible, and affordable for all Africans before 2020, has been launched. The campaign is hinged on the message that development, and therefore African lives and futures, depends on it. Campaign events will be held during the first week of May across more than 30 African countries, with results to be presented at the World Economic Forum on Africa and African Union meetings later this year.
Africa is home to four of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, and is the fastest growing market for mobile phones. However, the continent suffers from the slowest and most expensive Internet in the world — as a result, around 80% of people in Africa remain offline. Most African governments have not prioritised ICT policies despite having committed, through the UN Sustainable Development Goals, to achieving universal and affordable Internet in all least developed countries by 2020. The FASTAfrica campaign aims to change this by bringing popular attention to the issues and highlighting possible solutions.
FASTAfrica has been shaped by a planning group of more than 60 representatives of African groups and organisations that work on Internet rights issues in their own countries. The campaign is being coordinated by the World Wide Web Foundation, which was established by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Twenty-nine small grants were made to local organisations hosting events during the action week. These grants will allow youth groups, technology activists, developers and policy experts to host campaign activities in Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and many other countries.
“If you look at all the countries that enjoy relatively good Internet connections in the developing world, they all share one trait: a deliberate government policy to intervene in connecting the country,” says Moses Karanja, co-founder of a brand new online African ICT Policy Database based in Kenya that is participating in #FASTAfrica.
Renata Avila, Global Campaign Manager at the Web Foundation added: “For the Internet to have a truly transformative effect in Africa, everyone needs to be able to get online — either by being able to afford regular access, or through a widespread public access programme. Once online, it is important that everyone knows that their rights will be respected, otherwise it will limit the way they use the Web. Minimum speeds of 4mbps are also a must to make the most of vital educational and health resources. And, we need openness about prices, speeds, and government policies, so anyone can track progress and think of new solutions to obstacles.”
Key Demands of the Campaign
We need FAST Internet in Africa for ALL to meet our development goals.
African leaders have committed to strive for universal and affordable Internet in least developed countries by 2020 through the UN Sustainable Development Goals. One year since making this promise, we want to hear their concrete plans for Internet that is F.A.S.T….
Fast – For true economic and educational impact, we need average download and upload speeds of at least 4MB per second for comfortable Web browsing and online communication.
Affordable – A basic prepaid data plan of 1GB should cost less than 2% of average national monthly income, and there should be plenty of free public access points too.
Safe – Our privacy, security and rights online should be protected in line with the African Declaration of Internet Rights and Freedoms, which should be adopted by all.
Transparent – Policies related to information and communication technology (ICT) laws, taxation and pricing need to be openly available and easy to understand.
Anyone can sign up to host an event or participate here.
The campaign, coordinated by the Web Foundation through its Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) and Web We Want initiatives, specifically calls for concrete actions to make Internet in Africa F.A.S.T – fast, affordable, safe, and transparent.