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Technology has the ability to empower those in a community to achieve better, faster, and more efficient results. Gojek is an Indonesian start-up that began with a vision to use technology to improve the lives of motorcycle taxi drivers. The company has now flourished into an online ecosystem that connects Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia to millions of customers and Big Tech clients. This effort is further improving the lives of millions in the region.

Who is Gojek?

Gojek is Indonesia’s first unicorn company and Super App that provides a multitude of services to thousands of users across Southeast Asia, such as ride-hailing, food delivery, beauty services, entertainment booking and online payments. The company believes there is always a way to solve everyday problems and create a positive social impact using advancements in technology. As SMEs make up most of the businesses in Indonesia, Gojek helps SMEs in Indonesia by creating a digital platform that connects consumers and businessmen efficiently and seamlessly. Overall, the company managed to raise billions of dollars in financing from Google, Tencent, JD.com, Mitsubishi and VISA. More recently, Facebook and Paypal also invested in Gojek’s financial technology division, thereby officially joining Gojek’s list of high profile investors that share the mission of increasing digital economic growth in Southeast Asia.

Connecting SMEs with Big Tech in Indonesia

Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest and fastest-growing digital economy. Therefore, Gojek plays an important role in facilitating the growth of the digital economy by acting as a medium of communication between Big Tech companies who want to invest in the region and Indonesia’s SMEs. This results in more sustainable business opportunities.

Gojek helps SMEs in Indonesia by increasing financial inclusion through the digital payments platform on GoPay that is supported by Whatsapp. Digital payments are safer and more reliable for both customers and businesses, yet the majority of SMEs in Indonesia still operate on a cash-basis. SMEs operate this way because they lack access to financial services such as setting up a bank account. This reliance on cash payments only has limited the financial ability and customer reach of SMEs in Indonesia.

However, since its launch in 2015, through its app, Gojek has helped more than a hundred thousands of Indonesian merchants tap into an international market of more than 170 million people across Southeast Asia. In particular, Gojek’s GoPay functionality allows Indonesians who do not have bank accounts to participate in the digital economy by transferring money through Whatsapp, a social media app owned by Facebook that is used by a majority of the Indonesian population.

Gojek’s role during COVID-19

In light of the impact of COVID-19, which rendered consumers unable to physically visit stores, Gojek successfully converted 100,000 traditional businesses onto Gojek’s online platform, saving them from going out of business. By providing SMEs with complete digital solutions and tools, business owners no longer solely rely on in-store sales. Now, they are able to migrate their business online and take advantage of Gojek’s established online platform in light of the pandemic.

In other words, Gojek helps SMEs in Indonesia by promoting digital literacy and skills that will allow them to adapt their business model and increase their chances of reaching more customers, thereby building the long term resiliency of SMEs. Not only does the company play a crucial role in ensuring the delivery of essential food and goods are carried out, but Gojek has also played an active role in helping the Indonesian society by providing relief programs and soft loans for its drivers. For instance, Gojek’s senior management initiated a pay cut to allocate more than $7 million for its drivers and employees that are struggling due to the decrease in demand for Gojek’s services. As a whole, Gojek has helped the Indonesian government manage the COVID-19 pandemic by contributing to the backbone of the Indonesian economy.

It is clear that Gojek’s mission to solve the friction in everyday life is beginning to have a positive impact. It can be seen through the financial aid and support that the organization provides to the SMEs in Indonesia. By connecting Big Tech companies and SMEs, Gojek helps SMEs in Indonesia by giving them a louder voice and increased competitiveness in the regional and international marketplace of the digital economy.

– Mariyah Lia
Photo: Flickr

It is easy for many to take the internet for granted. Roaming around the city, chatting with friends and staying connected with family using mobile applications is possible only because of internet connectivity. One might argue that the internet comes as a luxury element post healthcare, energy, food, shelter and education. The Internet can help people with communication and decision making. For example, farmers can charge their yields at a reasonable price post referring to market prices on the internet. They can even predict weather and harvest accordingly. Money transfers from people across the city can occur instantaneously. This list never ends. Now the internet giant Facebook is teaming up with a company to provide free internet. Here is why Facebook added Reliance as a friend.

Why Facebook Wants to Provide Free Internet

Back in 2015, Facebook experimented with Free Basics for providing basic internet services to the rural population of the world. However, things did not go according to Facebook’s plan because of the regulatory conditions across telecom sectors in different parts of the world. It violated net neutrality laws. After public consultation, the Indian telecom regulator banned Free Basics. Since then Facebook has been eagerly waiting to do something about it.

There are more than 400 million WhatsApp users in India. Added to this fact, Facebook’s core platform has more Indian users than any other country. However, half of the Indian population is still offline. Facebook wants to target that new user-base.

Reliance’s Jio Initiative

Reliance’s Jio initiative succeeded in doing what Facebook was not able to do. It succeeded in providing mobile phones and the internet at a very low cost. It was able to do so because of the revenue generated from other divisions of the organization and the exorbitant loan that Reliance opted for. This move wiped out the telecom sector foundation in India. Competitors such as Vodafone Idea and Airtel lost millions of customers to the new Jio network.

Internet services and call services were provided by Reliance Jio at free of cost in 2016. This move forced competitors to charge less, which in turn, resulted in the internet revolution. Most of the poor population across India started using mobile phones and the internet. As of December 2019, more than 370 million people across India had subscribed to the Reliance network

How Facebook Added Reliance as a Friend

Facebook’s failure in the past to enter Indian markets with the Free Basics concept taught the company an important lesson. Starting from scratch will not work all the time. Acquiring an existing player was an easy choice at this point. Mark Zuckerberg was intelligent enough to detect Jio’s achievements. Added to this fact, the market capitalization of Reliance was down because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Indian National Rupee was at all-time low-value trading around 76 INR for 1 USD. After recognizing these facts, Facebook acquired 10% of the stake in Reliance India Limited at $5.7 billion. Facebook can leverage Reliance’s data for targeted advertisements. It will realize a significant jump in advertisement revenues from the Indian region.

Benefits of Increased Internet Access

Education is not available to everyone. Fortunately, people from poor backgrounds can get access to quality education through the internet. Poor people can access online education sites like Unacademy, Coursera and edX at free of cost. Added to this fact, people search and apply for jobs mostly through the internet. All jobs are highly interconnected these days. Thus, the internet would certainly provide intangible benefits to the rural population.

Millions of people could come out of poverty because of free internet access. Economic growth, employment and productivity of a country will improve significantly because of the internet access provision. In fact, Internet connectivity can generate $6.7 trillion of the global economy and create new jobs. India is the second-largest market for internet connectivity ranked only below China. It has around 600 million internet users.

Moving Forward

Around 30 million local stores in India were not online yet. Reliance’s latest experiment JioMart is working towards enabling this dream. Local Kirana stores can connect to the entire Indian population through the internet. If WhatsApp pay is leveraged on this occasion, possibilities will become endless. Owing to all these facts, accepting Reliance’s friend request was a strategic move towards achieving Facebook’s dreams.

– NarasingaMoorthy V 

Photo: Flickr

Genocide in Ethiopia
Over 3 million people have had to move due to ethnically motivated attacks. Some people have burned churches and there have been many recent deaths in ethnic-based conflicts. If these conflicts do not stop soon, a horrific genocide in Ethiopia could ensue. Here are some facts about the rising genocide in Ethiopia.

7 Facts About the Rising Genocide in Ethiopia

  1. Ethnic and Religious-Based Conflicts: Multiple ethnic groups, including Oromo extremists who want to take back the power others have historically denied them, have been starting ethnic and religious-based conflicts. There has been a long history of ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia. These conflicts include opposition between the Oromo people and Amarah people and the Oromo and the Gedeo people. Additionally, the Tigrean people have had more control over the government resulting in a long and complex history. The Oromo extremists’ acts of violence attempt to eradicate anything resembling the Ethiopian Empire including Christianity (a religion that has a long history in Ethiopia). People are burning Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches to the ground due to these conflicts. The Crisis Group, an organization that seeks to reduce conflicts worldwide, urges the Ethiopian prime minister (Abiy Ahamed Ali) to, “govern more inclusively, working to collaboratively with state institutions on reforms and involving civil society in reconciliation efforts.”
  2. Violence from the Conflicts: Recently, there has been a rise in ethnic and religious clashes in Ethiopia. On October 23, 2019, during a protest, ethnic and religious-based violence broke out and killed up to 78 people in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Authorities arrested 409 people who were in connection with the attacks.  
  3. The Role of Fake News: The BBC reported that fake news has aided in spurring these attacks. The entire protest emerged from a false claim that security forces were detaining Jawar Mohammed, the founder of the Oromia Media Network and a renowned anti-government activist with a Facebook following of 1.75 million people. These claims were not true. The Ethiopian Prime Minister has responded to this spreading of fake news by warning of forthcoming tough measures against media organizations fueling conflict. Here is a petition from the Genocide Prevention Department to help prevent more violence. This organization is fighting to hold OMN Media, which is a network that is currently broadcasting the hate propaganda accountable for instigating violence.
  4. Ethiopia’s Efforts to Prevent Violence: The new governmental changes that have been making strides to peace have intensified ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia. The Tigrean and Oromo people seek to break away from the government because they oppose its recent efforts to bring peace to Ethiopia. These strides towards peace include the Eritrea peace deal which ended a 20-year stalemate following the 1998-2000 border war, freeing thousands of opposition activists from jail and allowing exiled dissidents to return home.
  5. German Bernhanu and Ignorance: Small disputes become fatal skirmishes due to the absence of a culture of constructive dialogue and the alarming rise of intolerance. During an interview with The Borgen Project, Germa Bernhanu discussed how propaganda fuels a lot of these conflicts because people ignorantly follow. An example of ignorance causing violence is the October 23, 2019 skirmishes that resulted from falses claims.
  6. The Role of Education: Only 41 percent of girls are literate in Ethiopia while 34 percent of school-aged children do not attend school. If more Ethiopian children could gain an education, the ignorant following of propaganda may not be an issue. Organizations like Save the Children and the World Bank are working towards educating children around the world. In the U.S., the Keeping Girls in Schools Act seeks to solve this issue as well by empowering young girls, but the U.S. has not passed this bill yet. Contacting Senators and House Representatives is a great way to urge congress to pass this bill.
  7. Potential for Genocide: Many Ethiopians have a great fear that genocide will break out in Ethiopia. Ethiopians such as Elijah Wallace, Ethiopian native and scholar, and Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopian running legend, also say the potential for a genocide to emerge in Ethiopia soon is great. Many believe that the situation is very fragile due to political protests against the Ethiopian government’s attempts to unify Ethiopia as well as ethnic and religious-based feuds that have broken out in Ethiopia recently. Since very bloody ethnic-based clashes continue to happen in Ethiopia, the beliefs that genocide in Ethiopia is a very likely possibility in the near future are strong.

While a full-blown genocide has thankfully not occurred in Ethiopia yet, genocide in Ethiopia is certainly a looming possibility. If the Ethiopian government is able to defuse the conflicts and figure out how to handle them, these conflicts might be able to resolve without outside interference. 

– Emily Oomen
Photo: Flickr

Startup Hub Caribbean
Facebook has partnered with Parallel18, an accelerator for startup companies that is part of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, to provide support for 10 startups in the Caribbean. The program is called Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean and it is a 12-week program that started in May 2019. This program can tremendously benefit these technology startup companies and the communities that they work in.

The 10 companies selected are from Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic and the partnership chose all of them because they provide a product or service that focuses on goals that better their communities. These include gender equality and employment opportunities. These companies will be able to grow and expand into other markets under the support of Facebook and Parallel 18 through their free services and mentorships.

Possible Benefits

The unemployment rates in Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are currently 7.7 percent, 8 percent and 5 percent. Although these numbers do not appear high, it comes to a total of about 785,000 people that are unemployed. Although providing support to these 10 companies will not completely fix the unemployment rate in these countries, they should be able to grow and provide jobs to their communities with enough support from Facebook and Parallel18.

Agrobeads

Other than creating jobs for various communities, these start-up companies are providing real change and solutions. From Puerto Rico, Agrobeads is one of the 10 companies that Facebook has chosen to help. It provides capsules with water and nutrients to farmers in areas that are susceptible to droughts. According to Agrobeads, the capsules allow for the watering of crops and plants every two weeks instead of daily. Facebook’s support of Agrobeads will allow communities in the Caribbean to have greater access to locally grown foods and a more stable income for farmers.

Edupass

A company focused on providing assistance to those who are underprivileged, Edupass originally formed in 2014. It provides information and assistance to those in the Dominican Republic going through the admission process to university or college. Education is the key to growing a strong workforce and with the support from Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Edupass will be able to provide assistance through its admissions experts. These experts will be able to guide students through the application process, help transition students into life at college and provide students with tutoring and the opportunities for internships.

Hacker Hostel

From Jamaica, Hacker Hostel is a company started by Akua Walters that trains and markets Caribbean developers for remote jobs in North American countries. Walters created the company because he saw that talented JavaScript developers were leaving the Caribbean to pursue jobs in developed countries. This was a major problem because the people who were leaving to obtain jobs in developed countries could potentially provide solutions to help with problems in developing nations. Now with the support of Facebook and Parallel18, Hacker Hostel can help better train and prepare software developers to work for North American companies remotely.

Looking Forward

With the creation of Facebook’s Startup Hub Caribbean program, Facebook and Parallel18 are able to provide assistance to young companies that have created solutions for communities around the Caribbean. Although these companies focus and work to benefit their own communities, they could potentially expand to areas outside the Caribbean with the tools, workshops and mentorships from Facebook.

Ian Scott
Photo: Flickr

Artificial Intelligence in Africa
With many of the world’s fastest-growing economies and tech markets, Africa’s next logical step of developing artificial intelligence (AI) and assimilating it into various industries is quickly becoming reality. Despite fears of worsening unemployment rates and widening wealth distribution disparity, many tech companies and governments are finding ways of using artificial intelligence in Africa to improve lives.

The Current State of Technology

In countries such as Uganda and Ethiopia, whose steadily growing economies are due in part to the rise and success of tech industry growth, local startups are addressing issues unique to the areas in which they operate. Despite the technology growth and development, many people are afraid that the implementation of artificial intelligence in Africa will take jobs away from workers, leading to increased unemployment rates that have long troubled various African countries.

Understanding that many Africans do not currently have access to the level of education needed to qualify for loftier jobs, governments of the African countries have set out to make education more attainable and more specialized, and global tech giants have made it clear that they see potential in Africa in the tech industry, specifically in artificial intelligence in Africa, and are looking to take advantage of this potential.

Unlocking Potential

Artificial intelligence in Africa has already yielded substantial results, promising a bright future as the industry grows so long as it receives proper support from government and tech organizations. For example, governments must change the school curriculums to meet the demands of the modern workforce, cultivating analytical thinkers with the ability to identify and solve everyday problems.

Tech companies including Facebook and Google have already established a respective presence in Africa, acknowledging both the capable minds the continent already has to offer as well as the increasing need for reform in education. Google has opened an AI research center in Ghana, where it has also begun construction of a fiber-optic line that will strengthen the internet for the country. It will draw students from local universities that have already made headway in specializing in computer sciences and other fields of study crucial to the growth of AI and the tech industry as a whole.

In areas such as health care, insurance and manufacturing, AI has already yielded significant beneficial results for Africa. As issues in these and other fields accumulate naturally with growth, tech professionals see AI as the key to maintaining and improving the lives of many people in Africa and around the world.

Looking Forward

While AI still has a stigma and is consider a luxury, other people see the tech industry as vital to solving practical problems whose solutions may not be realized quickly enough by human efforts alone. The fear that artificial intelligence in Africa will take away jobs is legitimate in that the very objective of AI is to accomplish the work of humans more quickly and efficiently.

Governments of African countries can improve and adapt education and if global tech leaders continue to see potential in Africa and support its growth, the tech industry will demand increasing numbers of educated Africans to match the industry’s rapid growth.

– Rob Lee
Photo: Pixabay

help Guatemala
Currently, in Guatemala, 200 people are missing, 110 people are deceased and more than 1.7 million people have been impacted by the eruption of the Fuego volcano that began on June 3. It was the nation’s most severe volcanic eruption in 45 years and the size of this disaster has compelled many around the world to act.

Images of the volcano’s victims and its devastating impact are easily accessible on social media, as are advocacy and volunteer opportunities. Keep reading for a few examples of how to help Guatemala’s Fuego victims and bring awareness to the crisis.

Advocacy on Social Media

Social media has made advocacy from home possible and is one of the easiest ways to get involved in a cause. Several hashtags have popped up on social media platforms since the eruption began as a way to raise awareness along with fundraising and donation opportunities. With a simple search on Instagram or Twitter for any of the hashtags mentioned below, users can see pictures and updates on life in Guatemala after the volcano.

Examples of popular hashtags include:

  • #PrayForGuatemala
  • #GuatemalaEstoyContigo
  • #TodosPorGuate
  • #VolcanDeFuego
  • #FuerzaGuatemala

Finding Volunteers on Facebook

Another social media site that has offered ways to help Guatemala is Facebook. Beyond matching donations, the Crisis Response page on Facebook for the volcanic eruption has become a way for locals to find and give help. Facebook users can post to the page and list what they are offering or need, their location and how to get in contact with them.

Scrolling through the page shows people offering food, shelter or supplies, requesting help and asking for volunteers in specific locations. What is even more impressive is the number of posts that have already been completed or closed. This is yet another example of a relatively easy and effective way to help victims of Fuego’s eruption.

Red Cross Volunteers Working Hard

The Red Cross, led by the CruzRojaGT or Guatemalan arm of the organization, has been working tirelessly to provide rescue operations and support to Guatemalans. This organization has no intention of leaving soon and is putting long-term plans into place in order to keep helping survivors of this crisis.

The organization administered an emergency appeal to maintain programs in Guatemala to support 6,000 vulnerable people for at least a year. More than two weeks after the initial eruption, there are still 1,600 volunteers helping families evacuated during the eruption.

The American Red Cross is offering help as well, with programs set up to help people find loved ones they may have lost contact with in Guatemala. Beyond donating to the cause, sharing this information and keeping up to date on the current conditions are great ways to get involved with the Red Cross efforts.

Donations Flow In to Help Guatemala

In horrible times of crisis, sometimes the only positives are outpourings of support from the global community. There are many organizations and nonprofits accepting donations to provide help to burn victims, shelters, supplies and future rebuilding. GoFundMe set up a page with verified campaigns aiming to raise money to help Guatemala. Many of these funds were started by Guatemalans or people with ties to the country and some have already raised over $100,000.

This is partially made possible by the thousands of social media users who have used hashtags and posts to bring awareness to these causes and the ongoing impacts of the eruption. After the dust settles in Guatemala, it is important to keep sharing and being advocates for the millions of people impacted by Fuego’s eruption and to bring awareness to this crisis.

– Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

New Tech InfrastructureThe recent ravaging of the island territory of Puerto Rico, first by Hurricane Irma, then by Maria, is a reminder of the sheer destructive mayhem Mother Nature can wield—but also of the ability of individuals, businesses and governments across the globe to come together to solve problems and help those in need. Although the storms undoubtedly caused major problems, they also offered opportunities for change and innovation.

One such possibility is the chance to build a new tech infrastructure from the ground up. Many U.S. companies are stepping up to join in on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Under the direction of Elon Musk, Tesla is sending its Powerpack battery system to Puerto Rico to help homes, businesses, hospitals and schools use their existing solar panels by providing energy storage. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is sending special balloons to help restore cell phone connectivity in areas where the infrastructure is down. Meanwhile, Facebook pledged $1.5 million in relief money to various charities and sent employees to Puerto Rico to work toward restoring internet connectivity to the island.

In an interview with USA Today, Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló spoke about talking with Elon Musk. He affirmed that they were looking into batteries and solar panels as a long-term solution to transform energy delivery and bring down costs for the island.

The new tech infrastructure is direly needed. As The New York Times notes, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) was already $9 billion in debt before the two hurricanes hit. PREPA declared itself insolvent in 2014 and ceased making debt payments, forcing a debt restructuring deal that has yet to be finalized. To make matters worse, PREPA has been at the center of a corruption scandal, making it harder to unify the public behind its mission and importance.

But, according to Puerto Rico resident Gabriel Rodriguez, tech company aid to the island has been very polarizing. In his words, “People are really for it or against it. There are the people that say that of course it’s going to be a great improvement for us… but then there’s a lot of people that are very mad because they say we are selling the island to outside interests.”

Ina Fried of Axios speculates that the American companies currently volunteering side-by-side on the island will eventually compete with each other for larger-scale rebuilding contracts. The heavy lifting won’t come free, and this is likely the source of some Puerto Rican worries.

One of the challenges of rebuilding will be to do it in a way that respects Puerto Ricans’ autonomy and independent identity. These fears of selling out to foreign interests are similar to the ones that inspired the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s that toppled Fulgencio Batista and put Fidel Castro in power.

While the two situations are not politically analogous, the tales of government corruption and fears of foreign influence are, and those U.S. companies interested in helping would do well to approach the situation with sensitivity. There is room for all parties to share in the profits and rewards that a new tech infrastructure in Puerto Rico can yield.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Facebook Spurs Development in Africa
Facebook is advancing its mission to make the world more open and connected by focusing on development in Africa. Earlier this month, the social media juggernaut opened a new office in Johannesburg and announced that the number of African Facebook users has reached 170 million, marking an increase of 42 percent since 2015. Facebook spurs development in Africa primarily by exploring experimental technology and committing to its mission statement.

In an effort to reach the huge untapped market of hundreds of millions of other African citizens in less developed communities, Facebook has announced an infrastructural plan to install more than 450 miles of fiber optic cable in Uganda. The construction project could give an additional three million people across Africa access to the internet. To date, only 27.7 percent of the 1.2 billion people living in Africa have internet access.

“We are using everything available to us, including rolling out express wifi, building fiber and testing our Aquila project,” Facebook vice president of global marketing Carolyn Everson said.

The Aquila project, which uses technology to provide internet access to people via flying solar-powered planes that beam it down wirelessly, is one example of the multifaceted approach by which Facebook spurs development in Africa. They plan to employ satellite and grounded technologies to implement new wifi hotspots in Africa while remaining open to newer options not currently available, according to Everson.

Facebook is also tackling the problem of the high cost of data in Africa by working alongside international wireless carriers to reduce the price of data. The Emirates telecommunications group, known as Etisalat, Surf of Kenya and Coollink.ng of Nigeria are among the companies announced in the partnership.

“People are sensitive to data prices on the continent. Infrastructure is expensive and that is why we are looking for partners,” Everson added. “We are partnering with telecommunications infrastructure projects, and as a result, bring down the price of data.”

Facebook spurs development in Africa not just with ingenuity, but with perseverance. After Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with tech and government leaders in Africa in 2015, the company designed a project to expand in the region in 2016. Unfortunately, Facebook’s first foray into African development was abruptly halted due to physical damage caused by the failed launch of a SpaceX rocket.

After the setback of the explosion, Zuckerberg summed up his dedication to the company’s mission succinctly in a blog post: “We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone.”

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr

Facebook's internet drone
On June 28, Mark Zuckerberg and other members of Facebook’s executive team observed their newest piece of technology, a solar-powered drone, successfully complete its first flight. According to Yael Maguire, head of Facebook’s Connectivity Lab, Facebook’s internet drone will use lasers to beam a signal to towers and dishes that will bring Wi-Fi to people within a 50-km radius.

The new drone is part of the company’s Connectivity Lab, which is focused on the development of innovative technology. It is one of many projects that make up Facebook’s Internet.org campaign. The campaign’s goal is to deliver “internet access and the benefits of connectivity to the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have them.”

Many have criticized Zuckerberg’s mission because only certain parts of the Internet will be available to those in need. According to an article published by The Guardian, “Facebook, Wikipedia, weather, job listings and government info” will be the only websites accessible through Internet.org.

While this may seem limited, Facebook does not intend to dominate the market. In the future, the company aims to release all information about their drones and other technology so that both the public and private sectors will have the ability to bring the Internet to every corner of the Earth.

Aquila, the name of Facebook’s internet drone, took a little over a year to build. The prototype, which has a larger wingspan than a Boeing 737 but weighs only 880 pounds, is planned to eventually stay airborne for 90-day intervals at a top altitude of 90,000 feet.

Zuckerberg believes that a fleet of drones is the best option for connectivity because they will not be as expensive as building a grounded cellular infrastructure and they deliver a more powerful signal than satellites. Jay Parikh, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Engineering and Infrastructure, announced last year that their team in California developed and tested a laser that delivers data “10x faster than the previous state-of-the-art in the industry.”

While Facebook’s internet drone is years away from becoming fully operational, Facebook has already accomplished incredible scientific and engineering feats. The future is beginning to look bright for worldwide Internet access, as Facebook is just the latest of many companies and organizations attempting to make this vision a reality.

Mark Zuckerberg has long believed that the ability to access the Internet is as much a basic human right as water, food and shelter. Internet.org aims to help impoverished farmers, children and families through the connectivity and power that comes with the Internet. And thankfully, Aquila’s first flight proves that digitally uniting the globe is not out of humanity’s reach.

Liam Travers

Photo: Flickr

Reducing_Global Poverty

In a speech to the United Nations in September 2015, Mark Zuckerberg stated, “When communities are connected, we can lift them out of poverty.” During his talk, the Facebook CEO and founder asserted that increased Internet access can aid in reducing global poverty.

According to the World Bank’s 2016 World Development Report, 60 percent of the world’s population do not have access to the Internet. In the United States alone, 60 million people do not have Internet access at home. However, for the rest of the world’s population, technological advancement has provided enormous levels of wealth and development.

A recent report by Price Waterhouse Cooper’s consulting and strategy firm, Strategy&, states that giving internet to the world could bring extraordinary results. If the 4.1 billion people without Internet were given access, 500 million people could be brought out of poverty.

For those in poverty, the Internet provides a multitude of opportunities, including jobs, access to global current affairs and education. In 1998, the World Hospitals and Health Services Journal released an article discussing the advantages of Internet access, arguing that “Access to information is an essential condition to development.” Almost twenty years on, researchers and institutions are still looking to the Internet as a technique for reducing global poverty.

In developing and impoverished areas, most individuals cannot afford the cost of the Internet. According to the World Economic Forum, only 20.7 percent of Africa’s population use the Internet, compared to 77.6 percent of Europe’s population.

The Head of Africa for the World Economic Forum, Elsie Kanza, discussed the way in which technological advancement could help bring “vast improvements in the way the region governs, feeds, lives, educates, trades and interacts with itself.”

On a recent “Intersections” podcast, the Brookings Institute recently discussed the issue of poverty and internet access. Laurence Chandy, a fellow at the Brookings Institute, stated, “Digital technology is changing what it means to be poor because it’s bringing poor people out of the margins.”

With projects such as Internet.org and Project Loon, tech giants such as Google and Facebook have begun to tackle the goal of creating widespread internet access for reducing global poverty.

Isabella Farr

Photo: Flickr

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/29/17

 

Facebook’s History of Annoying Nonprofits

Charging nonprofits to post to their own followers is among the many questionable deeds the social media giant has quietly gotten away with.

 

SEATTLE, WA — If you follow your favorite nonprofit on Facebook, you might be surprised to learn that Facebook charges it to post updates to its own followers.

When The Borgen Project recently posted to its Facebook followers that a major poverty-reduction bill, on which many of them had worked, had passed in Congress, the post was only visible to 1,700 of the organization’s 29,000 followers. To reach every Facebook follower, The Borgen Project would have had to buy Facebook ads. Many nonprofits have spent years building their Facebook following only to realize their social media strength is useless without paying Facebook every time they need to post.

“We call it the Facebook punch,” said Clint Borgen, President of The Borgen Project. “Every couple of years they quietly implement something and we get stuck with a giant mess of consequences to deal with.”

Early this year, The Borgen Project became aware of some donations being made but not received. It was discovered that when volunteers shared a link on Facebook to their online fundraising profile on The Borgen Project’s website, potential donors would be redirected to a page to donate via Facebook.

The company initially marketed the redirect as a public service and stated the credit card processing fees went to its nonprofit partner Network for Good. However, by August, Facebook began encouraging nonprofits to sign up to receive the donations via the company’s own payment platform instead of via their nonprofit partner, Network for Good.

“For The Borgen Project, both options meant losing a larger percentage of the donation to merchant fees than if the link had just sent people to the organization’s website as the person posting the link intended,” Borgen said.

“Despite Facebook’s aims of promoting social good and connecting people to the causes that are important to them, it’s clear that its primary goal remains to monetize the relationship between nonprofits and their supporters.”

####

Organization: The Borgen Project
Phone: 206-715-9529
Email: [email protected]
Website: borgenproject.org