‘Africans Need Alternative Internet Content to Engage the Grassroots’

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Policy makers and developers in sub-Saharan African countries have been advised to do a lot more in 2019 in order to encourage the development of alternative local internet content that will benefit the majority of the grass-root citizens across African countries, Nigeria inclusive.

The Head, sub-Saharan Africa for Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA), Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, a Nigerian, who gave the advice in an interview with THISDAY, said the need for alternative internet content for Africans became necessary, in order to enhance the planned 5G rollout in 2020 by global economies.

He was of the view that in sub-Saharan Africa, the available contents are not relevant to majority of the people and that the generality of the people do not maximise the use of the internet and therefore have not explored the real potential of the internet, except for few.

Owing to this, he called on stakeholders to come together and fashion out the kind of content that will be relevant to the people, especially those at the grassroots level.

According to Goodluck, “There is need to build alternative local content for sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria that will promote African and Nigerian languages, to effectively engage the grassroots who are mainly petty traders and artisans, to enable them maximise the full potential of the internet.

“For example, Nigeria has developed a great music industry but we need to localise it further to enable more people especially those at the grassroots level to take some steps forward to embrace online music and also do great stuffs on the internet, beyond just sending and receiving emails.

“There is need to shift focus from concentrating on only the elites and educated who have access to the internet and refocus on the majority of the people at the grassroots level to be part of the global digital transformation process.
“We should also ensure that our people are able to produce and utilise local contents and when this is achieved, the we will be sure of greater appreciation of the internet and we can then begin to look at the kind of services that Nigeria and other countries within the sub-Saharan African region could offer for 5G rollout.”

Goodluck, insisted that countries within the sub-Saharan Africa region needed to build smart cities with automated homes where people can communicate with devices through automated wearables that are connected to the internet. Some of the wearables, he said, should be able to track the health system of individuals and communicate same to medical doctors who may be some distance away from the rural dwellers.

According to him, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nation that oversees global telecommunications activities, is currently working with GSMA to determine the kind of spectrum that will drive 5G rollout in different countries of the world.

Africans for instance have identified some spectrum that they would like to propose at the World Radio Conference (WRC19), holding in Egypt in February this year. So there is a lot of work going on and Nigeria is at the forefront on its preparatory work for 5G rollout in 2020, Goodluck said.

“At WRC19 in February this year in Egypt, standards on 5G spectrum rollout will be agreed upon and from there, individual countries will develop their own spectrum standards in line with the WRC19 global spectrum standard,” Goodluck further said, adding that as the world experience more 5G rollout, other networks like the 2G and 3G networks will gradually give way to 5G network.