Computer Access in GhanaAs one of the world’s poorest African countries, Ghana has a poverty rate that touches roughly 55 percent of its population, with only 24% possessing internet access. This acute problem owes itself in part to a large number of its youth, who grow up in the absence education accessibility. However, educators have begun to combat the ailments of impoverished Ghanaian communities. To do this, they utilize the fundamental cornerstone of a globalized world- computer technology. Computers have empowered Ghana’s poverty-stricken youth. As a result, they gain greater access to future job security and change the course of their own lives, along with the communities they inhabit. Below are three ways that computers and new technologies are improving the standard of living in Ghana.

Teaching 21st-Century Job Skills to Teens

The inclusion of computer access within the Ghanaian education system allows teens to develop valuable 21st-century technology literacy. It stands to open critical doors to higher education. In an era that is inarguably dominated by mobile phones, laptops, and wireless communications, access proves paramount. Programs like those presented by Ghana Code Club, which has taught nearly 1,700 students and trained over 300 teachers, enrich Ghana’s youth specifically with computer science as well as coding languages classes, paving the way for future innovations, as well as national economic growth.

Increasing Earning Potential

A Pew Survey showed that computer users connected to the internet are more likely to have higher incomes. The University of Ghana offers a dedicated computer science course that nurtures software programmers, who have the potential to earn up to three times as much as their professors. However, only through expansion will these opportunities allow them to truly reach a wide demographic. Increased computer access in Ghana is difficult to ensure. Currently, only around 36 people graduate from the University of Ghana’s technology program annually. Vast areas of the country are still shielded from these positive impacts.

Breaking the Gender Stereotype

Despite the computer’s role in expanding social and economic standards in Ghana, many traditional African communities restrict women and girls on the basis of acceptable gender roles. Although, new non-governmental organizations like STEMbees, a Ghana-based organization, inspire and allow young girls to break the stigma and enter into the fields of coding science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other organizations, like UNESCO’s Girls Can Code, also work to fight the ongoing battle against gender stereotypes in the African educational sphere. Methods that implement computer stations in Ghanaian villages and equip new schools with current technology continue to increase computer access in Ghana.

Ghana now finds itself in the unique position of being on the verge of a technological revolution that coincides with its industrial revolution. Each of the two transformational eras is set to drive the country towards a prosperous future. This future, additionally, carries with it the promise of greater opportunity for Ghanaian children. Average Ghanaian students gaining access to computer technology furthers the assurance of a better standard of living for Ghanaian citizens. Over time, this development can carry on for generations to come.

Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Southeast Asia has been reducing its poverty level as a whole for the past decade. However, the rise of automation has now put the population back at risk. One of the largest industries in terms of employment in Southeast Asia is the production and manufacturing industry. The most common type of work found in this region is in small factories. These jobs are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of automation in Southeast Asia.

Affected Industries

Automation is the process by which labor or a job that is performed by a human switches to being done by a machine. In many cases, a robot is able to work faster and more efficiently than a person with the added bonus of not having a salary and never needing time off. Thus, the prospect of a workforce full of machines is very appealing to those looking to lower their labor costs.

Automation in Southeast Asia stands to put a large number of laborers out of work. The International Labor Organization reported that 73% of Thailand’s manufacturing workforce are at high risk of having their jobs automated. On a whole, the ASEAN-5 (Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) faces a 56% risk for employment being automated in the next two decades. The majority of workers affected will be those with both lower wages and lower levels of education. These are the types of jobs easiest to automate, which renders these workers as the most severely impacted demographic.

Further, the types of jobs created through automation, like machine operation and maintenance, require skills the lesser educated workers replaced by automation lack. In Vietnam, those with only a primary school education are three times more likely to have their job automated than someone with a secondary degree.

The Transition

These countries face an interesting problem. Through automation, they stand to gain much in the way of foreign investments and business. Southeast Asia has become a hub of global production, which provides many economic benefits. On the other hand, automation puts the lives of the working-class people in these countries in serious danger. Several countries in Southeast Asia have proposed new ideas to try and navigate through this transition.

The Indonesian Minister of Finance has proposed the implementation of a universal basic income. This has the possibility of alleviating the stress caused by job loss. The Government of Thailand has approved a tax incentive to boost automation within the country. The proposition aims to bring in foreign investors that would train Thai workers and create employment opportunities.

Conclusion

A smooth transition to automation will be crucial in keeping much of the population of Southeast Asia above the poverty line. It is fundamental to support workers in the age of automation in Southeast Asia. Most importantly, they need access to higher levels of education. Hopefully this issue will encourage these governments to provide more opportunities and training to their citizens. People can continue to work in meaningful ways in the age of automation through adequate aid.

Jackson Bramhall
Photo: Flickr

Drones in ChinaChina is a major industrial leader with a booming economy and population. However, upon closer examination, one finds that China has a rampant problem of poverty in its rural regions. Ironically, the areas most impacted are those that tout agricultural prowess. In fact, around five of China’s most impoverished counties are major cotton-producing areas. To help combat this, new and unconventional technologies are providing the solution to low agricultural yields and unsustainable farming practices. Meet drones — the latest in portable flying technology used to aid in the fight against poverty in rural China.

Here are three ways that drones and other networking and communication technologies have taken root in impoverished Chinese communities:

  1. Drones and satellite imagery: Drones monitor the well-being of crops from the sky and assist in spraying chemicals and other supplements. Drones can also take photos of crop fields and relay these images back to farmers. The photos can determine the exact amount of soil, water and other resources needed for their agriculture to thrive. This practice is dubbed as “precision agriculture.” With the help of technology, this technique is increasingly applied to crops like corn and soy in subsistence-based China. More than 55,000 agricultural drones are currently in use in China. They have sprayed pesticides over an estimated 30 million hectares of land, according to the director of the China Agrotech Extension Association.
  2. Boosting yield and incomes: In 2019, nearly 4,500 drones in the Chinese province of Xinjiang accomplished agricultural productivity for 65% of the cotton fields in the region. Although it may seem as though drones are stealing jobs from the average working farmer, their subsequent introduction actually raised Xinjiang’s cotton output by 400,000 tons. An increase of $430 million in revenue is another result of the use of drones. Furthermore, one drone can do the work of sixty farmers in one hour and can spray pesticides 50 to 80 times faster than traditional farming. Thus, an efficient agricultural and harvesting environment is created. Drones essentially stimulate economic growth and support the rural working class in China by removing time and labor costs from the equation, helping farmers escape poverty.
  3. New networks: Drones are well-suited to the rugged farming environment in China. They can fly high above a grassy region or traverse difficult terrains often found within rural regions. These drones have easy adaptability and control through cell phones. This is especially useful for farmers who cannot entirely survey those areas individually. Additionally, farming data from drones has allowed farmers to access weather and disaster warnings, allowing them to prepare in advance. Those features inspired the government to conjure up a new idea: internet towers. China’s Ministry of Commerce employed a widespread plan to apply e-business to over 80% of its villages to combat poverty. Farmers utilize so-called e-commerce service stations, with the help of these newly created network and cable signals, to reach new markets to sell their products. In fact, online retail sales of agriculture have seen a significant yearly increase of 25.3%, with rural areas constituting a majority of this percentage.

The innovative and real-life applications of drones are virtually limitless and present a new way of combating global poverty. This Chinese experiment shows positive results and could soon become emblematic of drone-based agriculture on a much larger scale. In turn, this will help farmers that struggle with low agricultural yields, integrate them into an increasingly tech-based economic environment and lift them out of poverty.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Pixabay

5G Wireless

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world in many ways. Not only has the pandemic generated a loss of life and economic growth, but it has also shifted social dynamics. One of the most affected sectors has been education. Today, more than ever, education is dependent almost entirely on internet access or wireless cellular network coverage. Unfortunately, 51% of the world population lacks access to the internet. Many of those without internet access live in rural areas and low-income regions. In most cases, these areas lack investment in key infrastructure such as internet access. Fortunately, 5G wireless has the potential to guarantee a fast and efficient connection. The subsequent increase in access to high-speed internet will likely spur socio-economic growth worldwide, especially in rural areas.

Efficiency and Cost Reduction

The 5G network enhances WIFI capabilities; it is 10 times faster than any average WIFI network and has 100 times more capacity than 4G. The pandemic and the uptick in remote education have intensified the need to improve internet access. 5G Technology can take homeschooling to another level as it can eliminate the downside of face-to-face classes. The changing demands of the world’s population is an opportunity to transform rural communities through technologies, such as 5G wireless. Previous generations of wireless aimed to revolutionize the mobile phone sector. 5G, however, can deeply transform a wide range of industries.

The use of 5G will allow students immediate access to educational content without the common hindrances of Wi-Fi connectivity. The students will be able to enjoy a completely new form of education. Technologies that 5G powers, like virtual reality, could provide immersive experiences to develop professional skills. 5G wireless would improve the range and quality of educational activities and teaching methods. These improvements will not only expand the students’ educational experience but also their capabilities.

Many rural areas face teacher shortages and a lack of proper classroom equipment. This leads to a discrepancy between the quality of education in rural and urban schools. 5G would reduce the quality gap in education due to its universality. No matter where a teacher and their students are located, 5G can transmit the lesson quickly and clearly. For these reasons, 5G will work as a social equalizer by reducing the access cost of educational information and improving classroom technologies.

The Need for Public-Private Partnership

It has become clear that 5G can ameliorate the economic and social repercussions of the educational divide. However, this solution to a systemic social issue is only feasible when the public and private sectors collaborate. This partnership is necessary to equitably implement this new generation of broadband across both urban and rural areas. The ultimate goal is to evenly provide 5G coverage to remote areas around the world. India, for example, has prioritized its digital agenda to provide broadband connectivity in rural areas and communities that will benefit from digital inclusion.

The Indian Government, through the Department of Telecom (DoT), has been working on an action plan for the installment of 5G wireless services. The DoT has joined key stakeholders specialized in the industry to develop an ecosystem feasible for 5G commercialization and application. The government is promoting partnerships to guarantee innovation through a regulatory environment that incentives investments in the necessary infrastructures. The parties involved acknowledge that the shift toward 5G is crucial for the modern age. This technology will reduce the digital divide and the urban-rural educational gap while also producing growth and innovation.

5G as a Social Equalizer

All students in the world, regardless of their circumstances, need quality education to ensure a higher quality of life. 5G wireless is an innovative solution that can generate a dramatic impact. This network has the power to improve the quality of life for rural communities by guaranteeing opportunities for educational growth and general economic development. This means that 5G wireless can connect everything and everyone, and students can have access to all the tools necessary to succeed in several areas of interest.

For widespread 5G wireless to become a reality, government bodies and stakeholders must ensure a sufficient level of investment in national infrastructure to make the possible societal improvements a reality. The use of 5G means closing the urban-rural educational and digital gap and reducing poverty and insecurities. It is a social equalizer that will enable a smooth learning experience for students in rural areas who yearn for a better future.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr