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UN harps on investment to boost women Internet use in Africa

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Worried by the gender inequality gap in Africa, the United Nations (UN) has charged Africa government to invest at least 50 per cent of the Universal Service and Access Funds (USAFs) to expand women’s Internet access and use.

Despite the growth of Internet usage in Africa over the last decade, only 22 per cent of the continent has access to the Internet, with the widest gap in Internet use between men and women.

This was according to findings from the Web Foundation, Alliance for Affordable Internet and United Nations (UN) Women that over $400 million dollars is dormant in public funds designed to expand Internet access.

The result, which was released on Monday at the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women, showed that many African governments have failed to connect women and other offline populations despite available funds as just few countries are interested in improving women’s internet access and use.

Responding to these findings, Under-Secretary-General of the UN, Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said the USAFs offer an incredible and vastly underutilised opportunity.

This, Mlambo-Ngcuka added is to enhance real progress, which is an opportunity Africa cannot afford to miss. 

The report warned that failure to use these funds to bring six million women online or to train 16 million of them on digital skills is a threat to global equality and development.

In her words: “Every day that these funds remain unused is another day women and girls are sidelined in the digital revolution. We call on governments to take immediate action to put these funds toward their intended purpose, and to work to make the digital divide history—starting with women and girls.”


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