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Relevant content is imperative for digital inclusion

The lack of compelling online content has been identified as one of the major reasons why millions of people are still digitally excluded especially in Sub – Saharan Africa.

Speaking during an online Mobile Broadband Inclusion Roundtable organized by Huawei recently, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa for GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck said that relevant and customized content targeted for specific markets was key in driving more people online.

“We have to promote content that is relevant, including language sensitive content, content that adds value, and content which is socially and locally relevant and brings people first internet experience and good experience to bring them back, to ensure them to see the value in buying data bundles,” he said.

As part of increasing relevant online activities in the education sector, Zamtel and the Examinations Council of Zambia and the Ministry of General Education, partnered to launch an interactive e-Learning portal and Smart Revision platform to ensure continued learning during the COVID-19 crisis.

MTN recently announced the launch of a TikTok data bundles in South Africa to ensure an increase in online activities. While another mobile operator, Telkom also introduced an improved contract with increased streaming of music or video content with content providing partners like Netflix and Showmax.

While talking about the importance of valuable content, Akinwale also emphasized the importance of governments taking some of their work online in an effort to encourage digital inclusion, and called on telecommunication operators and governments to collaborate in committing to boosting this aspect.

“It is not necessarily about affordability, if they have compelling reasons, they will go, so there is a lot of work for everybodyto do,” Goodluck said.

In terms of this, Liquid Telecom Zambia for instance has provided support to the Ministry of health in Zambia in form of free internet connectivity at COVID-19 quarantine centres.The rationale is to ensure that people in dire need of information such as frontline staff can utilize digital tools using Liquid Telecom’s free wi-fi to share and access vital data.

Kenyan telecommunication operator Safaricom has partnered with education content providers such as Shupavu291, Longhorn E-learning and Viusasa for free access to digital learning material, enabling primary and secondary school learners to take online lessons for free.

In a bid to bridge the digital divide during the lockdown, Huawei has been offering university students in South Africa online ICT courses in Routing and Switching, WLAN, Security and Cloud Computing since April.  Students who finish their online courses are also provided with cash and data bundles as incentives to completing their courses.

“If the content is right, the relevance is proven and compelling enough, people will reflect all the cost of the access, and they will go online and do what they need to do as long as it is profitable, rewarding and they can see the value in it,” Goodluck said.

Source: Huawei Zambia, on behalf of GSMA