The World Wide Web Foundation has launched a campaign demanding internet that is faster, more accessible, and affordable for all Africans before 2020, saying that expensive, limited connectivity is stunting the continent’s development as well as entrepreneurship.
The #FASTAfrica campaign – which stands for Fast, Affordable, Safe and Transparent (F.A.S.T.) – is being marked by a week of events 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.
The campaign argues that Africa’s development, and therefore African lives and futures, depend on F.A.S.T. internet. In addition, the initiative says the lack of F.A.S.T. internet is holding back the continent’s entrepreneurs, stunting both innovation and uptake of new products.
“Africans are faced with some of the highest broadband access costs and slowest speeds in the world – a fact that is stunting the growth of business opportunities on the continent. Without decent internet speeds, African entrepreneurs won’t be able to develop innovative, content-rich products. Without affordable access, tens of millions of potential customers will be kept offline,” says Renata Avila, global campaign manager for the Web We Want initiative, a branch of the Web Foundation.
“Without safeguards for privacy in law, entrepreneurs won’t be able to do business privately, and certain sectors like financial services could be badly hamstrung. And without transparent policies, entrepreneurs can’t make business decisions with certainty. That’s why we are working to make F.A.S.T. internet a reality. We want to ensure that the next mPesa or Jumia is not held back by a slow, expensive and unsafe internet.”
The FASTAfrica campaign 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; and is being coordinated by the World Wide Web Foundation, which was established by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
29 small grants were made to local organisations hosting events during the action week, taking place in the first week of May. 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, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and other countries.
Anyone can sign up to host an event or participate here.