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Africa has three years to meet 2020 internet access deadline

Africa has three years to meet 2020 internet access deadline

Public-private partnerships and bridging the digital divide will help Africa meet the Broadband Commission target of providing at least 50% of its population with internet access by 2020.

This is according to Rwanda's President Paul Kagame who addressed delegates at Transform Africa Summit 2017 in Kigali under the banner 'Smart Cities: Fast Forward.'

"At first glance, the figures appear low. Only 20 percent of Africans have access to the internet and there are only three years left to meet the broadband commission's target of 50 percent. However, this must be regarded as an opportunity for stronger public-private collaboration," President Kagame said.

"In Rwanda for example, our partnership with Korea Telecom has already served to speed up our progress towards the broadband target," he added.

According to Internet World Stats, Rwanda currently has an internet penetration of 30.6% by March 2017. But companies such as Liquid Telecom, who has traversed the whole country with its fibre optic backbone, are changing that narrative.

"We must deliver on technology promise to bridge divides rather than deepen them. And that begins with the digital gender divide. So long as women and girls are lagging behind, then we are not on the right track," President Kagame reiterated.

"Access to technology and innovation must not distinguish between the rich and the poor or between urban and rural areas. If technology is entrenching divides rather than equalising opportunities then we are not harnessing it well and surely there will be negative consequences."

The president urged stakeholders to use their combined talent, know-how, resources and decision making power to open up new pathways of productivity and inclusive growth for Africa's rapidly expanding cities.

"Africa has to be connected, and why not at the highest possible speed. Our future well- being depends on how we respond to these challenges right now," the president said.

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