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COVID-19: Egyptian ambassador urges Africa to exploit broadband internet

Mr Assem Elseify, Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria, has urged African countries to take advantage of broadband internet towards making progress in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elseify gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja on the sidelines of a Zoom webinar with the theme “Made in Africa”.

The webinar was about investment potentials of African countries, the various measures in place to attract investors as well as testimonies by investors in the continent.

He said that the huge African human capital had the potential to turn around the fortunes of the continent for the better in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Internet speeds in Africa are very poor compared to the rest of the world.

Data shows that 17 of the 30 countries with the slowest internet connections are located in Africa, seven in Asia, six in South America and one in Oceania.

None of the top 30 countries is in Africa.

To further identify the depth of this issue, a research has shown that it takes about 18.5 hours to download a 7.5 GB file in Malawi, 14 hours in Egypt, and 18 minutes in Singapore,fastest which considered to have the fastest internet speed in the world.

The envoy said that internet penetration would boost sectors such as education, which is the bedrock of any society.

He said that the level at which online activities helped strengthen relationships at the height of the pandemic was a way forward to explore in all sectors.

Elseify urged African governments to invest more in the internet sector for the benefit of the citizens, adding that it would heavily impact socio-economic development.

“If affordable broadband internet is strengthened, its penetration in Africa will enormously help educate rural and urban students.

“It will also increase financial inclusion of informal sectors which constitute the majority of our economies. The world will be able to meet up through internet use by citizens and governments need to encourage it,” he said.

According to a 2009 World Bank study, a 10 per cent increase in broadband penetration generates a 1.4 per cent increase in gross domestic product in low-income countries.

Recent studies also found that Internet users’ household income was an average of 19 per cent higher than non-users in several developing countries.

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