Turn to your immediate neighbors and see what he or she is holding in their hands. Your discovery is as good as mine, it’s most definitely that they will be holding their smartphones. I bet that 7/10 will be on their smartphones surfing the Internet.
What then do these figures mean to you? Do they intrigue your mind? Recently I met a student at Makerere University, Uganda’s premier University and in our conversation the student made a revelation that annually she spends Ugs 1million to Ugs 3million on buying data to navigate the web. This is quite an investment! She wondered if she invested the same money in a business, it would be flourishing. But then she cannot do away with the Internet. Classwork, Friends, Family easily connect on the Internet making it an unnecessary evil for her. She must buy the data. This then poses a question “SHOULD THE SURFING OF THE INTERNET COUNT AS A HUMAN RIGHT?”
I’m not certain about what is buzzing in your head but I’m glad you’re pondering on this topic.
In SouthAfrica progress has been realized. Activists, there have stood up against telecommunication companies that are overcharging data and eventually saw prices dropped to enable many citizens to access the Internet. Many say the Internet brings you closer to the world giving you hope. You can even travel the World on the Internet with a click on your phone or computer.
However much SouthAfrica has made progress perhaps because it’s progressing democracy, this is not the case in some African countries that are growing in Democracy. In Uganda for example, there was blockage of social media platforms over the Internet with the intention of limiting conversations around elections. The only way many people navigated online platforms was through the use of a virtual private network (VPN) but many were cut off, they were caught off guard.
The Ugandan Parliament later enabled the Over The Top tax (OTT) which boiled down a lot of conversations online on whether the tax was necessary or not. Not long ago, the then Minister of ICT Frank Tumwebaze noted that the Government would be providing free Wi-Fi dubbed “MY UG” which would enable internet users to surf the Internet at their plea as long as they’re in the city. This shows how much the Internet is in the everyday conversations of decision-makers and capabilities of the Internet, it’s a big player.
But let’s face it, the reality is if you want to catch the attention of millions of people around the globe, put the information online it will spread like wildfire and in a flash, your information will have reached its destination. Perhaps that’s why some Governments are skeptical about making it a right. Half of the World’s population is on the gates of the Internet. The United Nations has made its voice heard regarding this matter. Free internet access has been included in the Sustainable development goals. This gives a glimmer of hope that maybe decision-makers will appreciate this and make access to the Internet free.
Activists have also argued that like Education, Health services are free to humankind so should access to the Internet be without being at the mercy of Governments across the globe.
As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, activists have cried out that these gaps will also continue to be manifested in the quest for internet access as the rich will access the Internet more than the poor and unless these gaps are filled, the reports and recommendations of having access to the Internet will only remain dusted on paper. Must Governments really make the move and start having conversations around this topic or take a step back!
Make your voice heard!