Ivory Coast moves to close digital divide

By Issa Sikiti da Silva

The government of Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) is moving fast to reduce its digital divide and enhance job creation.

A project called ‘One Citizen, One Computer, One Internet Connection’ was launched last week, and aims at helping 500 000 families own IT equipment and connect to the internet in the next three years. Ten thousand households will benefit from the programe this year, 200 000 in 2016 and 200 000 in 2017, with the help of subsidies to be coordinated by the National Agency of universal service for telecommunications for ICT (ANSUT).

The government wants to create awareness about ICTs and ensure that a great number of Ivorians start using computers and connecting to the internet, President Alassane Ouattara said at the launching ceremony held at the luxury Sofitel Ivoire Hotel in the commercial capital Abidjan.

The programme is being supported by Intel.

IT equipment, including second-hand computers and modems sold in the black market in this West Africa nation, costs an arm and a leg and internet prices are still higher, forcing the poor of the poor to play the role of an onlooker.

This is the kind of misfortune that this ambitious project wants to deal with, and in the process boost job creation and enhance social development.

“Opportunities of development and job creation in the ICT sector are real. These technologies have a transversal impact and help invigorate all activities they cover,” Ouattara, an economist and former deputy head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), explained.

Despite its mobile penetration currently swimming beyond 90%, the country’s internet and broadband sectors remain largely underdeveloped, no wonder why the country’s internet penetration currently stands at a mere 5%.

The ICT sector contributed between 8% of the country’s GDP in 2014.


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