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Mobile Data TrafficMany poverty-stricken individuals do not have access to the internet, creating a digital divide. The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized mobile data traffic around the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile broadband supports access to education, work, healthcare, goods and services. It plays an imperative role in reducing poverty. With nearly 800 million people in the region still without access to the mobile internet, it has never been more urgent to close the digital divide.

The Need for Mobile Broadband

According to Fadi Pharaon, president of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, the increasing demand for mobile broadband provides an unprecedented chance to improve economic conditions for Africa. Currently, Africa is one of the quickest growing technology markets.

In addition to younger populations requiring technology to develop practical computer skills, during the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the internet is also crucial for remote learning and remote work to continue development and economic progression.

In response to the pandemic, sub-Saharan African countries that were able to implement telework adaptations had considerably greater access to the internet, as much as 28 % of the population, as opposed to countries that were not implementing telework, at 17 %.

Due to the increase of digitalization during the pandemic, these developments are expected to positively contribute to the region’s economic recovery post-pandemic. Research suggests that expanding internet access to cover an additional 10% of the region’s population has the ability to increase gross domestic product (GDP) growth by one to four percentage points.

The Mobile Broadband Demand

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) delivered over 4G or 5G is a more affordable alternative to providing broadband in areas with limited access. By 2025, FWA connections are expected to reach 160 million, accounting for 25% of global mobile data traffic.

The estimated total growth of mobile data traffic is from 0.87EB per month in 2020 to 5.6EB by 2026, an increase of 6.5 times the current figures.

To keep up with the demand, service providers are predicted to continue upgrading their networks to meet their customers’ evolving needs.

Additionally, networks expect to see an increase in customers purchasing mobile data subscriptions. Long-term evolution (LTE) was predicted to amount to 15% of subscriptions at the conclusion of 2020.

Novissi Digital Cash Transfers

The Novissi cash transfer program in Togo is an example of why mobile broadband access is important in developing countries. To support struggling people in Togo during COVID-19, instant mobile cash payments were made to their mobile phones to address urgent needs. The program provided more than half a million people with financial assistance during a crisis.

Closing the Digital Divide Reduces Poverty

Experts suggest that funding infrastructure, increasing electricity access and developing approaches to support digital businesses will aid in economic recovery and continue to close the digital divide. While sub-Saharan Africa has seen an acceleration of mobile data traffic during COVID-19, more action still needs to be taken to support its citizens post-pandemic. Providing affordable access to mobile phones, mobile broadband subscriptions and internet access will help support the recovering economy and alleviate poverty in the region.

Diana Dopheide
Photo:Flickr

Solve Rural PovertyThe head of the United Nations International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder, praised China’s efforts to meet its goal to solve rural poverty by the end of 2020 despite the socioeconomic complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. He further highlighted the importance of China’s work toward achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development goal of eradicating extreme poverty worldwide.

Transitional Monitoring Period

The relief campaign, which began in 2013, will remain in place after achieving the intended poverty reduction goals. Officials plan to institute a transitional period to monitor economic progress and prevent backsliding among those most recently lifted out of rural poverty. The transition period is also meant to introduce a shift from addressing absolute poverty to the wider goal of assisting poor agricultural regions.

Access for All: Digital Transformation

Advances in digital infrastructure have transformed internet access nationwide. In 2018, China’s Information Technology Ministry announced its goal to expand internet access to 98% of underprivileged areas. China achieved this goal in August 2019, resulting in an 8% increase in the number of internet users. Moreover, rural and urban regions enjoy the same internet quality and speed. This improvement in internet access has spurred new technological development projects, including 5G, blockchain and advanced logistics systems in rural areas.

E-commerce for the Rural Poor

As a result of this trend, consumption through e-commerce has been a key tool in aiding the rural poor. The China E-commerce Poverty Alleviation Alliance consists of 29 e-commerce platforms that allow Chinese farmers, who otherwise struggle to turn a profit, to list their products for sale online. E-commerce tools with the alliance have resulted in nearly $300 million USD worth of sales of agricultural products from underprivileged regions. Live streaming platforms are another increasingly effective method for rural farmers to increase the visibility of their products and reach out to new customers nationwide.

Rural Resettlements

Another prominent program to solve rural poverty is the rural resettlement program. This system relocates populations who live in ecologically dangerous or remote areas closer to urban regions to grant them access to better job opportunities, quality healthcare and formal education in cities.

One example is the resettlement of the Yi ethnic minority in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province. Atule’er, also known as Cliff Village, is the mountainous and underdeveloped home of the Yi people, fostering little tourist attention or economic activity. The local government has resettled a large portion of the village to the more developed Zhaojue province and given villagers subsidized apartments.

Relocation Program Flaws

This relocation program and the rural poverty alleviation campaign as a whole, are not without flaws. Some relocated residents are unable to find work opportunities in their new city and must move back to their village since they can not afford the high cost of living. Even if some do gain access to economic opportunity in the city, many are concerned about what these relocations mean for minority cultures. Forced industrialization and urbanization is seen as a tool for the state to force non-Han ethnic minorities to assimilate and leave behind their traditional customs.

National-level disorganization has also drawn criticism. About 60% of citizens who should qualify for poverty-stricken status based on their income to receive welfare payments and subsidized housing from the state were not given the designation. Many other citizens were incorrectly recorded as poverty-stricken as a result of bureaucratic errors, misdirecting the benefits away from the millions of unaided rural poor.

China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation

Aside from state-led initiatives, which tend to draw the most controversy, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also committed to solve rural poverty in China. The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) is one such NGO that aided 4.19 million people and raised over 580 million yuan, about $91 million, in 2017 alone. One notable project is the “New Great Wall” Program which promoted increased access to education by providing scholarships and financial assistance to students from underprivileged backgrounds. The CFPA also engaged in the “Beautiful Countryside” Program to repair damaged houses, roads and infrastructure, both improve living conditions and promoting tourism in otherwise economically underdeveloped regions.

The Road Ahead

Despite China’s extensive steps, there is much room for improvement regarding respecting minority cultures and ensuring that the progress achieved thus far will be lasting. Thus, NGOs that build relationships with the local communities themselves are proving to be essential in the fight toward eradicating rural poverty.

– Neval Mulaomerovic
Photo: Flickr

Internet in KenyaLoon, a company division of Google, is using balloons to provide internet in Kenya. The Kenyan government is collaborating with Loon to provide more substantial 4G coverage since many areas of Kenya have poor service. In the future, Loon hopes to expand to other areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. Loon is hoping to expedite the process of sending balloons to Kenya because of the increased demand for information during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Importance of Internet Access

UNESCO estimates that 45% of households worldwide do not have internet access. In Africa, 72% of people are unable to use the internet because companies do not see the need to travel to remote locations with less robust populations. Loon is looking to change these statistics by focusing its services in remote areas so people can use apps to communicate with each other.

Internet services help empower people in poverty by offering opportunities for education. Many students in rural areas do not have schools near them, so students rely on quality education through the internet. The Kenya Education Network (KENET) works to bring internet and laptops to various schools in Kenya. KENET has already invested $2 million in supplying free high-speed internet. The internet has become an essential need for educational purposes; Loon’s work will elevate people’s access to these important services.

Are Balloons Reliable To Provide Internet Access?

Loon used its balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed the cellular towers. The balloons were deployed to provide immediate internet access for people on the island. Before the official launch, Loon tested out 35 balloons, which led to 35 thousand people being able to access the internet in rural Kenya.

Now that Loon is working to send out more balloons, the company is hoping to cover 31 thousand miles. The balloons are effective for providing internet coverage because they work like normal cell towers. The signal is transmitted for 100 days by software controlled from the ground.

The Future of Reliable Internet In Kenya

Loon expects to deploy more balloons in the future through a partnership with Telkom Kenya. Kenya is one of the leading technological countries in Africa. From 2019 to 2020, an increase of 3.2 million people accessed the internet in Kenya.

One of the barriers for people in poverty in accessing the internet is high-cost data plans. Kenya has higher data prices than other surrounding countries. An unlimited data plan in Nigeria can cost around $26, but the same plan in Kenya allows for only 50GB of data. In Kenya, 36.1% of people live below the poverty line, so many Kenyans do not make more than $1 each day. Cellular data plans are still unobtainable for some of the population.

While the Kenyan government is looking to provide a better signal to rural areas, residents may not have the money to pay for cellular services. Access to more service areas through Loon and cheaper data prices through Telkom Kenya could help increase people’s connectivity.

Sarah Litchney
Photo: Pixabay

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

Internet Access in Afghanistan

One of the biggest issues facing developing countries is stunted infrastructure. Many developing countries lack the funds and institutions necessary to efficiently carry out mass infrastructure revamps that would connect all parts of these countries and enable more people to get safer, better-paying jobs. Of course, for developing countries like Afghanistan, this type of development also includes internet access as well. Internet access is so critical for long-term growth that the United Nations even listed it as a key outcome under its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Importance of Internet Access to Development

A lack of internet access can be stifling for economic growth in any country. Many international businesses are unwilling or hesitant to invest in countries that have no broadband connection. In this era, the internet is the medium through which many interactions essential for economic progress take place, such as:

  • Potential higher-paying employers can contact and hire employees.
  • Students can take classes, study, and turn in assignments.
  • Workers can unionize.
  • Citizens can keep educated about international events and help keep their representatives accountable.

However, this staple of modern development is widely not available to those who live in impoverished countries. Lack of internet access is especially a problem in the Middle East, as not only does terrain stifle modern development, but extremist groups like the Taliban oppose it as well. Afghanistan is one of these countries, as only about 17.6 percent of the population has access to the internet. The broadband that the population has access to costs about $80 per month for 1 Megabit per second (Mbps), making broadband access unaffordable for much of the population that has a Gross Net Income (GNI) per capita of $570.

Progress: Internet Access in Afghanistan

The good news is that there have been significant improvements within the past 10 years in Afghanistan’s internet infrastructure. In 2013, only 5.9 percent of the population had internet access, this means Afghanistani people have seen triple inaccessibility in just six years. Afghanistan now has a rather intensive fiber optics network laid down in 25 of its provinces with assistance from its neighboring countries, mainly Pakistan, as well as some international organizations like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Due to these coordinated efforts, there are more than 8.7 million people using the internet in Afghanistan today. This number is expected to increase with de-escalation of the conflict in the region and further diplomatic talks with Afghanistan’s hegemonic neighbor China with plans to coordinate infrastructure development.

Internet access in Afghanistan still has a long way to go before it is considered comparable to any developed country, due in part to political, economic, social and even geographic reasons. Even so, the Chairman of Afghan Telecom Gul Aryobee remains optimistic about the prospect of further development in the Information Technology sector since the country has already seen such rapid improvements in less than a decade. He recognizes all the challenges that the internet in Afghanistan faces, but he remains strong in his conviction to meet the SDGs set by the United Nations and fully believes Afghanistan has the potential to develop exponentially with the continued assistance of other countries and international organizations.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

 

Mobile Banking in ThailandAs internet access becomes more relevant, new markets and business sectors such as information technology, finance, banking, and telecommunications are developing. This can expand opportunities for rural areas that were once outside the scope of urban centers to take advantage of mobile banking and empower formerly marginalized communities. With the help of the internet, everyone can join the development world with minimum requirements. For this reason, mobile banking in Thailand is currently more prevalent than ever.

Often in developing countries, banks and telecommunication infrastructure are scarce, while mobile phones are found in spades. This interesting dichotomy has led to the proliferation of mobile money and banking, which allows money to be transferred, deposited, and converted back into cash using only a mobile phone to do it.

Mobile Banking in Thailand on the Rise

According to the World Bank, as of 2016, Thailand’s rural population was 48.46%. With recent developments in mobile banking in Thailand, roughly 50% of the population will have increased opportunities to pay bills, conduct money transfers, and make everyday purchases electronically.

The role credits and loans have in the growth of developing countries’ economies cannot be overstated. Increased loan access is essential for allowing farmers, businesses, and consumers as well to utilize investment capital and help expand economic activity. As mobile banking in Thailand proliferates throughout the financial sector, it offers increased access to loans.

This past year (2017), Thailand has seen incredible growth in the mobile banking sector. The Bank of Thailand recently published data that illustrates a surge in the use of mobile internet banking in Thailand. Consumers’ increasing preference for digital transactions highlights the success of banks’ pivot toward more digital strategies.

The Benefits of Mobile Banking in Thailand

As Thailand continues to cement the transition to mobile banking, rises in employment, wages, GDP and productivity are expected. Consumers can expect to receive THB 3.3 billion in annual benefits, while businesses will see up to THB 72.9 in annual net benefits. Employment will rise by 1.6% and wages by 0.2%. THB is an abbreviation for Thailand Baht. In comparison, 1 USD equals 32.82 THB.

As the government and private sector continue to facilitate the growth of mobile banking in Thailand, electronic payments between consumers and merchants will become increasingly prevalent. The transition towards a cashless society and the advantages that come with it are many, one of them being the cost of transactions.

A study conducted by VISA predicts that the total benefits of Bangkok shifting to a cashless society will be approximately THBg 125 billion per year.

An Upward Trajectory

The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Framework 2020 involves several strategies and goals that include universal broadband and a competitive ICT industry. With regard to the national broadband policy, the ICT Framework hopes to have 90% of the population connected by 2020.

Hopefully, as Thailand completes the transition to a more connected society, other southeast Asian countries will take notice and invest in better technological and banking infrastructure. In turn, these subsequent developments could make the region a burgeoning financial hub.

Since mobile banking is dependent on a strong broadband network, the future of mobile banking in Thailand looks bright, as the government prioritizes increased broadband coverage across the country.

– McAfee Michael Sheehan
Photo: Google

internet to isolated communities
Around the world, 1.3 million of people do not have access to energy and 3.5 million cannot access the internet. To minimize this problem, the global foundation Un Litro de Luz (Liter of Light) has created Linternet – smart poles that provide access to light and the internet to isolated communities in Colombia. Through a micro-franchise model, the initiative connects the most vulnerable sectors of Colombia’s society to the internet while also creating employment opportunities.

Founded by Camilo Herrera, Un Litro de Luz is a sustainable illumination project that aims to bring low-cost solar energy and internet to isolated communities, empowering them and teaching them how to build simple illumination systems.

Bringing Internet to Isolated Communities

“Linternet was born as a stage of Un Litro de Luz in which we empower communities so that they can build and replicate the internet coverage model in Colombian rural areas,” says the ambassador of Un Litro de Luz Sergio Espinosa. With the goal of transforming communities, the project is present in several other countries such as Ghana, Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya and the U.S.

Finding Solutions to Limited Resources

According to Espinosa, Un Litro de Luz and Linternet both represent extensions of public resources. The projects aim to teach the communities’ residents that, even though these resources are limited, they are able to find their own solutions. The citizens are the ones who build the whole system during a workshop with Un Litro de Luz. “They understand how the system works, can learn how to maintain it and, also, at the end of the process, feel like the light poles belong to them and they take care of it,” explains Espinosa.

The lights are made with solar panels and plastic lamps, have low power consumption, and high luminosity and durability. In the light poles, there are signal replicators that allow the connection to the internet. The poles have a connection range of two kilometers so people can have internet not only next to the light poles, but also at home.

Creating a Positive Impact

Un Litro de Luz and Linternet have several positive impacts. They help the environment, by promoting recycling of plastic and solar energy. The internet also facilitates education in these communities and allows better health care via systems of online appointments and medical diagnosis. Lighting dark paths provides safety, especially for women and girls. 

So far, more than 237,000 people have benefited from the organization’s illumination systems and 3,500 have access to the internet because of Linternet. “When we bring technology and internet to isolated communities, we not only provide them with infrastructure but also with opportunities and information,” says Camilo Herrera.

– Júlia Ledur
Photo: Flickr

examples of global issues
The year 2018 has brought many positives with it. Several countries are on pace to minimize poverty. Education movements for girls are spreading like wildfire all over the world. More women in developing countries are gaining access to maternal care. More governments are establishing innovative ways to combat fundamental challenges around the globe. Unfortunately, there are still many global issues that plague the world.

Global issues are matters of economic, environmental, social and political concerns that affect the whole world as a community. These issues disrupt the natural framework of humanity, disturbing economic and social progress. These are 10 examples of global issues that are altering the development of human progress across society as a whole.

Examples of Global Issues

  1. Clean Water
    Water is a basic substance required for all living organisms. Without it, human health inevitably fails. According to a report by the United Nations, there is enough fresh water on the planet for everyone. Unfortunately, 844 million people lack access to it, and one of three people do not have access to a toilet. Millions perish daily from unhygienic diseases due to inadequate water and sanitation. Governments are making efforts to assist those in need but are hindered by declining economics and disorganized infrastructures.
  2. Food Security
    Like water, food helps people lead healthy lives. Globally, 12.9 percent of the population is undernourished. Developing countries struggle with providing an adequate food supply to their people; as a result, nearly 795 million people do not have enough food to meet their nutritional needs. The World Food Programme, a humanitarian effort established by the U.N. to combat hunger and food security, is working to bring relief to developing countries, currently assisting more than 80 countries every year.
  3. Health
    Universal health is a growing concern. Unfortunately, diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, smallpox and polio are still claiming the lives of thousands of people worldwide, mostly in developing nations. The World Health Organization is a global initiative that provides antibiotics and vaccinations all over the world. Since its inception, polio cases have declined by 99 percent, tuberculosis treatment has saved more than 37 million people, and in 2016, zero cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa.
  4. Human Rights
    Every person deserves basic rights, regardless of their race, sex or ethnicity. In 1948, the United Nations created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which today is commonly known as the International Human Rights Law. This declaration promotes and protects human rights civilly, economically, politically and socially.
  5. Maternal Health
    Maternal health is a global human rights issue, making it one of the key examples of global issues. There are an estimated 830 pregnancy-related deaths each day. This is mainly due to lack of maternal care. Women die from infections, postpartum bleeding, blood clots and other conditions. The United Nations Population Fund develops relationships with governments around the world to train healthcare professionals to provide expert maternal care to expecting mothers.
  6. Girls’ Access to Education
    Girls deserve the right to learn. Currently, 98 million girls do not attend school due to barriers like poverty, gender bias, governmental conflict, safety concerns and a lack of educators, classrooms and curriculums. Global Citizen reported that schools are sometimes hours away from where children live, making it unsafe for them to travel alone. Let Girls Learn is a U.S. global strategy targeting an increase in safe access to education for girls and educators. Funds are directed towards curriculums to help girls read and write.
  7. Digital Access
    We live in a digital age where we can find all the help we need online. This luxury is absent in many countries, as more than four billion people do not have access to the internet. Internet connectivity would assist those living in developing countries with finding help and aid. With online options, people in need can contact international aid programs to get assistance faster.
  8. Foreign Aid Budgets
    The world would like to believe it does enough for the poor, but sadly this is not true. In the U.S., the International Affairs Budget only makes up 1 percent of the federal budget. Increasing the foreign aid budget is actually beneficial to the American economy. It helps create more jobs in the U.S. and builds wealth in developing countries.
  9. Women’s Rights
    Women’s rights are human rights. Women suffer discrimination in many areas: laws, the workforce and gender-based stereotypes and social practices. The first conference on global feminism was held in Nairobi in 1985 and involved more than 15,000 non-governmental organizations, encouraging 157 governments to adopt strategies geared towards equality, development and peace for women.
  10. Refugees
    Refugees are people who have been forced to flee their homeland due to war, conflict and abuse. Foreign countries have granted them asylum for thousands of years. Refugees are sometimes denied entry into other countries, leaving them without basic human rights such as food, healthcare, education and jobs. Children make up the largest percentage of refugees. The U.N. Refugee Agency currently provides aid and safekeeping to 59 million refugees.

These 10 examples of global issues are not exhaustive. The world is filled with complex issues that must be addressed. Global strategies must continue to advance to nurture and protect all of humanity.

– Naomi C. Kellogg
Photo: Flickr

Poverty hinders economic growth
Efforts to reduce global poverty have been largely successful over the past few years. However one of the highest costs is that poverty hinders economic growth. It is a preventable burden that has solutions.

Here are five facts from around the world on how poverty hinders economic growth and what you can do to help reduce global poverty:

1. The effects of poverty cost U.K. citizens about 1,200 pounds per person every year.

According to the Guardian, 25 percent of health care spending is associated with treating conditions related to poverty; 20 percent of the U.K.’s education budget is spent on initiatives, like free school meals, to reduce the impact of poverty.

2. Child poverty reduces U.S. productivity and economic output by 1.3 percent of GDP each year, which costs the U.S. about $500 billion per year.

Economic hardship disproportionately affects children more than any other age group. The Center for American Progress believes impoverished children are more likely to have low earnings as adults and are somewhat more likely to engage in crime.

This “reduced productive activity” generates a direct loss of goods and services to the U.S. economy.

3. Children living in poverty have higher dropout rates and absenteeism, which limits their employability.

The Council of State Governments Knowledge Center found that nearly 30 percent of poor children do not complete high school, which limits future economic success.

A more educated individual is more likely to participate in the job market, to have a job, to work more hours, to be paid more and less likely to be unemployed according to an Economic Policy Institute report from August 2013.

Countries may see a rise in economic productivity by ensuring that children from low-income backgrounds have equitable access and are motivated to stay in school.

4. Poverty increases the risk of poor health; it is a $7.6 billion burden on the Canadian health care system.

The link between poor health and poverty is undeniable; the World Health Organization (WHO) declares poverty as the single largest determinant of health.

Poverty increases the likelihood of developing conditions that are expensive to treat such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, reducing poverty not only cultivates a healthy economy but it can also create a physically healthier society.

5. Billions of people — especially women — remain offline.

Developing countries are paying the cost of poverty while missing out on the economic benefits of increased internet access.

Women and the Web, a study sponsored by Intel, reveals that bringing an additional 600 million women online would contribute at least $13-18 billion to annual GDP across the developing world.

Increasing internet access in developing countries would also increase participation in e-commerce and increase access to educational resources and health services.

Want to help in the global fight to end poverty?

Mobilizing your congressional leaders to endorse poverty-reducing legislation has a widespread impact on reducing the high cost of poverty. For example, the Digital GAP Act aims to bring affordable, first-time internet access for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020 and would help to bridge the digital divide. This will greatly facilitate change and decrease the way that poverty hinders economic growth.

Please visit The Borgen Project’s action center for more information on how you can contact your congressional leaders and voice your support for innovative, poverty-reducing legislation.

Daniela Sarabia

Photo: Pixabay

Digital Divide
A report released by the World Bank shows that while technology has expanded, more people have remained poor. This phenomenon is often referred to as the digital divide.

The World Bank finds that more households in developing countries own a mobile phone than have access to electricity or clean water, according to “Digital Dividends,” its 2016 World Development Report.

The digital divide is created because most benefits for private enterprises arrive instantly, such as streamlined communication and information, online convenience and social connectivity throughout the global community.

The investments from these enterprises would ideally generate employment growth and services for those in the developing world — but progress there is more stagnant.

According to the World Bank report, digital dividends have not grown at the same rate as digital technologies because 60 percent of the world’s population does not have Internet access and are therefore unable to participate in the digital economy.

There are also emerging risks – such as polarized labor markets and inequality – that contribute to the digital divide. Routine jobs are replaced when technological advancements are made, which means more unskilled individuals compete for fewer low-wage jobs.

To combat these effects, solutions include infrastructure investment, providing worldwide Internet access and monitoring offline factors of technologies by region.

“While technology can be extremely helpful in many ways, it’s not going to help us circumvent the failures of development over the last couple of decades. You still have to get the basics right: education, business climate and accountability in government,” said Digital Dividends Co-Director Uwe Deichmann.

Education in the developing world can provide people with the skills needed to utilize digital technologies and become more productive in the workplace, which reduces polarity within the job market, according to the World Bank.

Accountable government agencies should implement policies and regulations that create a competitive digital market so that information costs go down and societies have the opportunity to become more inclusive.

Though growth has slowed in the developing world, organizations have found ways for the poor to benefit from the information and communication technology sector.

Question Box exists as a telecommunications network that provides populations suffering from high illiteracy rates and social or technical barriers with access to information.

According to the Guardian, Question Box has installed a series of ‘call boxes’ in areas of Uganda, that connect disconnected communities to someone with Internet access who can relay answers to questions regarding health, employment or other related issues.

Otherwise disconnected communities have the ability to create successful societies if given access to the digital information many of us take for granted.

Kelsey Lay

Sources: The Guardian, Question Box, World Bank 1, World Bank 2
Photo: Google Images