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Internet access to better combat COVID-19 epidemic
15 April, 2020
The Internet has become an indispensable tool for communication and information in the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. The subsequent lockdowns and stay at home measures mean that connectivity to the internet is essential for the economy to keep functioning and for virtual interaction. Unlike the developed world, access to internet in Africa is surrounded by a number of challenges. Apart from access and cost, some of the key challenges during this pandemic include data traffic and congestion as the majority of people are staying at home and are using the internet; where possible for online school attendance, doctor’s appointments are taking place on-line and other services. The cost of mobile broadband pricing for 1GB data varies from $34.25 in Equatorial Guinea which is the highest to $ 0.98 in Sudan which is the lowest. Across Africa, the average cost for just 1GB data is 7.12% of the average monthly salary and this limits accessibility for the most vulnerable people. Governments must take urgent action to increase internet access.
SDGCA calls for the following actions by governments.
- Reduce taxes on internet charges and engage internet service providers so that more people can access the internet at lower prices.
- Facilitate the creation e- learning platforms for online learning for students or use mixed mode such as television and radio according the country specific situation.
- Issue guidelines for the responsible and rational use of telecommunications networks and the internet to mitigate congestion.
- Issue consumer guidance on how to ensure that best quality connectivity is available during the pandemic.
- Invest in telehealth and telecare to reduce patient travel.
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