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High Internet Costs Threaten Global Access 

Lukmon Oloyede.
Internet access is growing across the world, but not fast enough to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon last year by its 193 member states. The world’s least developed countries will only achieve universal Internet access in 2042 — more than 20 years past the target date set by the global community, according to Alliance for Affordable Internet’s (A4AI’s) 2015-16 Affordability Report released on Monday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The report identified income inequality, gender discrimination, and poverty as some of the key hindrances as access remains unaffordable for over 70% of people in the world’s least developed countries.
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In order to accelerate progress, “the UN must set a more ambitious target for getting broadband prices down”, the report argues.
The Alliance’s Affordability Drivers Index also ranked Colombia, Costa Rica and Malaysia as nations best placed to drive prices down fast.
Commenting on the report, Omobola Johnson, Honorary Chair of A4AI, and immediate former communications minister of Nigeria, noted that: “While it is heartening to see the progress made by some countries on the Affordability Drivers Index, overall, the results make for disappointing reading. The low scores across the board show just how far we have left to go toward developing and putting into place the policies necessary to reduce broadband prices and expand access. Yet progress is possible — countries like Colombia and Rwanda are testament to this. If we work together, think big, and learn the lessons from the journey so far, we can connect billions more to the life changing potential of the Internet, fast.”

Meanwhile, the Facebook-sponsored “State of Connectivity 2015” report revealed that nearly 3.2 million of people worldwide were connected to the Internet by the end of 2015, up from 3 billion a year ago.
The study, released late Sunday, also revealed that globally, 4.1 billion people were still not Internet users as of 2015.
It added that improving access is a major challenge that will require the cooperation of many stakeholders through innovation and investment.

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