Tag: developing countries

Intel calls for increased internet awareness for women in developing countries

Intel is calling for more support to help double the number of women accessing the net in developing countries, in a bid to boost job prospects and drive economies.  

In a report, which was compiled from surveys and interviews with around 2,200 women in Mexico, Egypt, India and Uganda, the chipmaker found that many women in these countries already depend on the internet to find and apply for jobs, so increasing access could help boost the economy.

However, Intel, which carried out the report with the United Nations and the US State Department, found that women in these areas were not using the internet to its full potential, with only a quarter going online compared to men.

This gave rise to a “second digital divide” that needs to be closed, the company said.  

According to Intel, there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, women themselves did not think it was “appropriate” for them to access the net, as a result of the cost involved in getting connected. Illiteracy among women, as well as lack of awareness of the changes that being connected could make, were also cited as factors.

The report, according to Reuters, said that although 600 million women in developing countries – around 21 percent – were already online, with a further 450 million expected to join them by 2016, more could be done to increase this figure by 150 million.

To do this, the chip maker is calling for change in women’s online behaviour over the next three years. It wants technology companies to get involved, calling on them to make internet access easier, and in some cases free, on mobile phones.

Policymakers are also been called upon to increase digital literacy among women.

Despite 79 percent of people in the US having access to the internet, compared to 11 percent of men and women in India, Intel said there was still a gap when it came to internet access in rural American areas.

Shelly Esque, a vice president for the chipmaker and president of its educational foundation, said that the internet was a key technology and knowing how to use it is vital. Esque cited the Egypt uprising as an area where access to information online can mean a world of difference.

Intel also believes that women having increased access to the internet could add between $50 billion and $70 billion in potential new market opportunities.

Fibre to the sky funding could mean fast internet for rural Africa

Countries in Africa as well as other developing nations could be set for broadband uptake more successful than in remote parts of Europe thanks to funding for a fibre in the sky satellite service.

O3b Networks has announced $1.2 billion in funding from banks and investors to plough into its global satellite constellation, which it says will support ISPs in developing regions with the network providing “fibre-quality, low-latency internet backbone” for developing markets.

The news will please human rights groups and the UN, which back in September voiced concerns over countries in Africa playing broadband catch up. It followed figures released by the UN looking at the global disparity in fixed broadband access and cost in different countries. The Central African Republic was the most expensive place to get a fixed broadband connection, costing nearly 40 times the average monthly income there. Niger was pinpointed as the most expensive place to access communication technologies, when landlines and mobiles were taken into account.

O3b is planning to abolish the issue of latency that has hampered satellite broadband by parking its satellites closer to Earth.

“Standard geosynchronous satellites operate approximately 36,000km away from Earth and as a result, round-trip data transmission times significantly exceed 500 milliseconds,” the company said in a statement.

“O3b’s medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites are far closer – approximately 8,000km away from Earth,” the company said. “As a result, round-trip data transmission times are reduced to approximately 100 milliseconds.”

Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency for Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) said:
“O3b’s plan adds an exciting new piece to the puzzle through a low-cost solution that could help quickly bridge the emerging broadband divide separating rich and poor nations.”

Thales Alenia Space is currently constructing O3b’s first eight medium earth orbit Ka-band satellites. The design of the system means that it will be possible to add many more satellites to the constellation, increasing capacity and transforming satellite communications for the developing world. O3b will begin commercial service during the first half of 2013 following the planned launch of the first eight satellites by Arianespace with a Soyuz launcher from French Guiana. ViaSat will provide the teleport and trunking product customer terminals.

Internet as a human right in developing countries

Internet rights groups and lawyers have warned that high internet prices in developing countries could push them further behind in the fight against poverty. They have also said access to the internet should be a basic human right.

The comments by the Open Rights Group and Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, a professor of law, and director of Cyber-Rights.Org, follow figures released by the UN looking at the global disparity in fixed broadband access and cost in different countries.

It found that the Central African Republic is the most expensive place to get a fixed broadband connection, costing nearly 40 times the average monthly income there. Niger was also pinpointed as the most expensive place to access communication technologies, when landlines and mobiles  were taken into account.

The internet is seen by the UN as one way to pull developing countries out of poverty, claiming that broadband and connectivity could be used to develop e-health and e-education programmes.

The Open Right’s Group agrees. Florian Leppla, Campaigner at the Open Rights Group told TechEye: “Access to the internet will play an increasing role in education in developing countries. If internet access is not available to a large number of the population, we risk allowing these countries to fall further behind.”

However Dr Akdeniz reckons that providing sufficient and affordable internet is, unfortunately, not an enforceable right: “Such a significant and important right needs to be part of international treaties before it can be enforced as a right,” he told us.

He told us that although some countries, such as Finland, were already developing laws to recognise access to the internet as a fundamental right, in others, high prices and limited access policies are used to control citizens’ access to the internet.

The statistics were released ahead of the UN 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit in New York on the 19th of September. MDGs are a set of targets intended to reduce global poverty and improve living standards by 2015. They include targets of education, fighting disease and promoting gender equality as well as communications technology.

The BBC said that with five years to go until the deadline to achieve the goals, progress remains uneven. Some countries have achieved many of the goals, while others – mostly in the developing world – may not realise any.

Leppla told us: “The international community has to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals to reduce global poverty are met by 2015. Access to tools like the internet will be a key tool in reducing poverty.

“Of course, governments must balance basic needs for food, water and shelter with the need for education, so they may not always feel that internet access is something they can fully prioritise,” he added.

Macao in China was found to be the cheapest country when it came to internet access costing 0.3 percent of the average monthly income.

According to the report only 0.7 per cent of the population in India has a broadband subscription. According to a separate report the country will see the number of internet users triple to 237 million from the current 81 million by 2015.

In its ‘Internet’s New Billion’ report, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said Brazil, Russia, India, China and Indonesia (BRICI) will have more than 1.2 billion internet users by 2015 – well over three times the number of Internet users in Japan and the US combined.

Describing India as a “low-maturity and high growth market”, the BCG said that the internet penetration rate in India is expected to reach 19 percent by 2015, up from the current seven percent.

“There are currently about 81 million internet users in India–a number that will nearly triple by around 2015 to 237 million,” the report said.

The UN and EU have said in the past that the internet should be a “basic human right” but it’s clear from this report that many countries either don’t see this as a priority or are not able to. And in some cases, as Dr Akdeniz pointed out, high prices and limited access policies are used as a means for control.

It’s also clear that some countries may not have realised the usage of technology can genuinely help in the fight against poverty. 

International Telecommunications Union wants everyone online by 2015

Half of the world should have broadband access by 2015, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said.

In its 2010 World Telecommunication/ICT Development Report (PDF), which it launched at the World Telecommunication Development Conference in Hyderabad, the company also said it wanted to build an ICT-literate society globally and develop online content and applications .

It said the number of net users has more than doubled since 2003. This means that currently 25 percent of us are using the internet.

However Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, director of the ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said that there was still room for improvement especially in developing countries and more needs to be done to get people online.

The report also found that while 75 per cent of all households have a TV, only 25 per cent have internet access. In developing countries, home internet penetration is as low as 12 per cent. The report said that where home access to the Internet is low, it is particularly important for countries to invest in public internet access. It said many governments across the world are actively promoting public access and some are turning libraries, museums and post offices into Internet cafés. In Bhutan, for example, 40 per cent of all localities have a Public Internet Access Centre.

However, growth in mobile technology is rising at a quicker rate than the internet and is helping to bridge the gap between “more disparate and diverse populations”.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, said: “Today, nearly 90 per cent of the world’s population is covered by a mobile cellular network, and even people in rural and remote areas now have the means to access the global information society”.

He gave an example of the world’s two most populous countries  — India and China — where mobile technology has provided basic telephone services to over 90 per cent of villages. Today, more than half the rural households have a mobile telephone.