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Ghana lags in achieving universal, affordable Internet as $6m for the purpose sits idle – UN Report

Ghana is one of the 163 United Nations member states that agreed and signed up to work towards achieving universal, affordable Internet by 2020 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, but funds raised for the purpose sit idle, a new UN report released today says.

Ghana alone, the report says has as much as $5.89 million sitting unspent in Universal Service and Access Funds (USAFs).

According to the report put together by the World Wide Web Foundation, Alliance for Affordable Internet and the UN Women released at the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women, an estimated $408 million collected to expand Internet access throughout Africa is sitting dormant in public coffers

The report finds that many African governments are failing to take action to connect women and other offline populations — despite the existence of funds earmarked for this purpose. It warns that failure to utilise these funds — enough to bring six million women online, or to provide digital skills training to 16 million women and girls — to expand connectivity to all, risks widening global inequality and undermining global development.

The funds, the report says are typically financed through mandatory contributions by mobile network operators and other telecommunications providers.

The report finds Ghana’s situation particularly troublesome because less than 20 per cent of women in Ghana have access to the Internet, according to available data from the Web Foundation for 2016.

Citing a World Bank data, the report said as a whole, Ghana has 2 per cent online population.

“Affordability is a major barrier to connecting women, with 1GB of mobile prepaid internet costing 4 per cent of monthly average income,” it indicated.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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