Internet Access Helps Impoverished Nations
As of 2018, 4.1 billion people currently have internet access. This is roughly 95 percent of the world’s 7.1 million population. According to a data graph constructed by Our World in Data, the majority of this internet access is in North America and Asia. Comparatively, on average only about 20 percent of the population of Africa has internet access. Meanwhile, over 60 percent of India’s population lives under the poverty line and only 26 percent of the country’s population has internet access. Internet access can help impoverished nations, though, which is why there are efforts to bring it to places it is not available currently.

Connecting the Globe

Providing a country with internet access is more than just access to the internet. It is also about global connections. is an organization that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created, which explains that the internet should be a global right. This is due to the wealth of information that the internet contains. Global Citizen also asserts that if Africa had access to the information that the internet provided, it may be able to jumpstart its infrastructure.

Causes of Lack of Internet Access explains the following reasons for lack of internet access across the world:

  • Countries do not have the proper infrastructure to provide their people with an internet connection. According to the United Nations (U.N.), however, the establishment of 3G networks could be one effort toward improvement.
  • A 3G network currently covers only 60 percent of the world. By 2020, the U.N. expects that 97 percent of the world will have full 3G coverage.

  • Cost is also a major factor because 13 percent of the world’s population currently lives under the poverty line.

  • People in these countries do not always have the skills necessary to properly use the internet. Also, 13 percent of the global population is illiterate.

  • Eighty percent of internet content is only available in 10 different languages and less than half of the global population speaks these languages.

Looking Toward the Future

Internet access can help impoverished nations see major improvements. Google created a network of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country of Nigeria in 2018. Global Citizen estimated that this could generate $300 billion for Africa’s total GDP by 2025. The Nigerian government is taking notice of the efforts led by Google. President Yemi Osinbajo visited Silicon Valley in 2018 and attended the launch of the Google hotspots, according to Global Citizen. This shows that an increase in technology not only improves conditions for a nation’s people but can also help local governments understand how internet access can reduce poverty.

Another way internet access can reduce poverty is by providing support for those suffering from poverty. Telecommunications company Vodafone launched Vodafone’s Farmers’ Club. Esoko states that the organization provides over 1 million farmers with phones. This allows access to numerous services including farming tips, weather updates and nutrition tips. According to Dela A. Kumahor, who served as a design expert on the project, research showed that farmers often feel restricted by their low amount of technology literacy and lack of business sense. According to The Guardian, Vodafone has done the research to show that mobile-focused agricultural services could lead to a $34 billion increase in 26 different markets by 2020. The service has also rolled out in Turkey, where 500,000 farmers have signed onto the project. This has led to a $100 million increase in farmer productivity.

Internet access can help impoverished nations that need relief. The internet provides jobs, services and connections that allow people, governments and industries the opportunity to help their countries fight global poverty. Improving agriculture and providing services are just two of the ways that internet access can reduce poverty.

– Jacob Creswell
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 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

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. 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

Chan_Zuckerberg_InitiativeMark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, isn’t a stranger to making large donations. He and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have already donated $1.6 billion to philanthropic causes.

But on Tuesday, Zuckerberg and Chan announced plans for something far greater.

In a Facebook post, the couple disclosed first the birth of their daughter Maxima, and then, more notably, a new project: the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The new philanthropy is Zuckerberg’s pledge to donate 99 percent of his Facebook shares towards charitable donations over the course of his lifetime. It’s a stake that is currently valued at $45 billion.

According to Reuters, Zuckerberg said he intends to invest up to $1 billion of his shares each year over the next three years into the Initiative.

“Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,” wrote the couple. To date, however, they have not outlined specific organizations or causes they will fund.

Their drive in creating this Initiative came from the impending arrival of their new daughter. In a video, Zuckerberg stated, “Having this child has made us think about all of the things that should be improved in the world for her whole generation. The only way that we reach our full human potential is if we’re able to unlock the gifts of every person around the world.”

Overshadowing their intentions is the unique structure of the Initiative. Zuckerberg and Chan elected to create the Initiative as a limited liability company. That means, unlike a traditional charitable or philanthropic foundation, the Initiative can make political donations, lobby lawmakers, invest in businesses and recoup any profits from those investments.

According to Leslie Lenkowsky, professor of public affairs and philanthropy at Indiana University, “They are instead trying to achieve philanthropic purposes using a business model.”

Despite all this, Bill Gates, the wealthiest person in the world (with an estimated net worth of $85.2 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index) and his wife congratulated Zuckerberg and Chan.

“The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world,” they said. “We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, ‘Seeds planted now will grow.’ Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come.”

Past donations made by Zuckerberg and Chan include a 2010 donation of $100 million for the improvement of Newark public schools, which met with some controversy. More recent donations include $20 million to EducationSuperHighway, which helps connect classrooms to the Internet, and a new acute care and trauma center at San Francisco General Hospital, where Chan works as a pediatrician.

Kara Buckley

Sources: BBC News, NY Times, Reuters 1, Reuters 2
Photo: Google Images

Having the internet makes life easier and possibly even more livable. Search engines put the world at your fingertips and participating in virtual communities like Facebook, Youtube, and Reddit unites billions of people under a common thread.

Yet, 4 billion people have never been online.

Facebook hopes to change that by creating, an informational platform delivering free Internet access to the two-thirds of the world without it. This set of simple and data efficient sites will introduce the large majority of the world to the value of the Internet.

In the May 4, 2015 video announcement, Mark Zuckerberg said that works for the common fisherman, the man the majority of the world relates to. He, like the “chicken farmer in Zambia,” can research ways to better sells their products. Likewise, an expected mother in a rural village can use to find the best ways to raise her children. And, when her kids get older, they too can use the open web to help study for exams. Further, research shows that for every billion people with Internet access, more than one hundred million are lifted out of poverty.

Net neutrality is at the core of this argument. Net neutrality is the principle that all data should be distributed equally. This requires the fair distribution of charges, content, sites, applications, necessary equipment, and modes of communication. Zuckerberg supports net neutrality, but also believes that preventing is not enough. There remains the need to actively support underprivileged, minority, and women and children groups, which require access. “Access equals opportunity. Net neutrality should not prevent access. We need both.”

In its inception, had an exclusive partnership between Facebook and certain partners. Now, Facebook maintains that is free for anyone to join, free of charge. The business model follows that the more people linking through free, the more people will end up purchasing affordable access to the broader Internet. Facebook is even going one step further. will let anyone build free basic services.

The bottom-line is to give everyone the opportunity to connect. will run free resources like Wikipedia, job listings, local news, HIV education, and maternal health services. As the platform grows, it will offer more and more free services
Already, the app is available in India, Ghana, Zambia, Kenya, Colombia, Tanzania, Indonesia, and many other countries. In less than a year, it brought more than 9 million people online.

“As we are having this debate” concludes Zuckerberg, “remember that the people this affects most, the 4 billion unconnected have no voice on the Internet.”

– Lin Sabones

Sources: Facebook,, Investopedia
Photo: ITProPortal


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with his wife Priscilla, has donated $25 million to help eradicate the Ebola epidemic sweeping the world. According to a Forbes article that quoted Zuckerberg, the disease has already infected 8,400 people and is projected to infect over a million in the coming months if it continues at this rate.

The money donated by Zuckerberg will be put toward the Center for Disease Control’s Global Disaster Response Fund. The money will support safe burials, services for the dead, the training of more medical staff, medical supplies and more. Approximately 150 members of the CDC will be heading to West Africa to address the issue in person.

Zuckerberg posted on Facebook, “We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio.”

Ebola has quickly become a topic of concern, constantly permeating airwaves and worrying the majority of the world. Accordingly, there are other wealthy philanthropists reaching out in the campaign against this deadly disease.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $50 million to U.N. agencies and other groups giving supplies to those suffering from Ebola. Bill Gates’ business partner, Paul Allen, initiated the Tackle Ebola campaign, setting an example by giving $20 million. Allen strongly remarks, “A winnable battle should never be lost.”

Zuckerberg is considered one of the top philanthropists in the United States, he is involved in various charities and willing to donate financially. With contributions like Zukerberg’s, Ebola relief efforts can advance.

Kathleen Lee

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes
Photo: Flickr

eliminate health care barriers
As part of a trend to eliminate healthcare barriers for the poor, Facebook is helping to provide free access to advantageous websites to impoverished women in Africa. Some of these websites target pregnant women and advocate and educate for better maternal health.

At this point, inaccessibility to expensive data plans has been a large barrier between women and the internet. With a new mobile app that the company unveiled this past week, women will have free access to websites like MAMA (Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action) and WRAPP, which advocates for women’s rights. The application was designed in coordination with local government groups to fill in some of the communication gaps that persist.

With the first initiative scheduled for Zambia, the pilot program has the potential to branch out to other developing countries. Though the program is accessible to both men and women, women will be disproportionately helped through this program. With Zambia having a significant gender inequality gap, women will be able to gain more from having access to healthcare information and job postings that will now become more accessible.

As part of the growing technologies industry looking to expand their market to the estimated five billion people without internet access, Facebook is reaching out to the underexposed in Africa. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said of the project, “I believe connectivity is a human right.” With the motivation to connect and network users of the application to other parts of the country and the world, Zuckerberg is well on his way to an integrated global community.

The application is a game-changer for women’s rights, particularly in traditionally oppressive governments. With support from many international women’s rights groups as well as vocal laudation from the Executive Director of U.N. Women, the Facebook app has the potential to create a social revolution around the world.

– Kristin Ronzi

Sources: The Telegraph, Tech Crunch
Photo: TechCrunch
A new Facebook application is attempting to bring Internet services to the world’s developing countries. While many impoverished areas have been limited by an inability to access certain aspects of modern technology, this new development aims to provide important information, such as weather, search engine capabilities and health and education information to in-need communities.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the beginning of in Zambia on July 31. The application will provide free data access and basic Internet service.

“Over the past year, we’ve been working with mobile operators around the world to deliver on this goal,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “We’re starting to see this vision become a reality, and we’ve already helped three million people access the Internet who had no access before.”

Currently, only 15 percent of the Zambian population has access to the Internet. The application, which provides access to sites such as Google Search, Facebook, Wikipedia, Messenger, EZeLibrary and Facts For Life, aims to provide helpful information in a usable format, free of charge.

According to representative Guy Rosen, approximately 85 percent of people who do not have internet access are in a location that has mobile phone coverage. Despite having phone services, these areas often do not have Internet coverage largely because of expenses and a lack of awareness about the advantages the Internet might provide them.

Many of the web services that has give people the ability to research job opportunities, stay connected with others and learn more about reproductive health and other aspects of health.

The program is beginning with Airtel, a global phone company, in Zambia. From there, Facebook hopes to spread to other parts of the world and provide free services to more developing areas.

“This is a big step forward in achieving the mission of Facebook and,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re looking forward to bringing free basic services to more countries soon.”

– Julia Thomas 

Sources: BBC News, Airtel, GMA News Online
Photo: Viral Global News

Currently two-thirds of the world’s population, a staggering 5 billion, live without access to basic internet. A lifestyle difficult to imagine here in the U.S. and other countries that have integrated internet into virtually every aspect of our daily lives., a group of powerful allies, is dedicated to utilizing their combined resources to change this. is an innovative partnership spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook,who is  committed to reducing the cost of bringing internet access to the world. The plan is to provide universal access to internet by lowering the cost of serving data by tenfold and reducing the amount of data required to run basic apps by the same amount. These major cost reductions are the keys to reducing the cost of internet access 100-fold. This is the amount of cost reduction that would make it possible to for a worldwide internet providing infrastructure to exist and this group is determined that it can be achieved through technological innovation.

According to, providing universal internet access is a fundamental step in the struggle for global resource equality. Access power is so valuable today because the internet is “the backbone of the knowledge-based economy.” This statement recognizes the global shift currently taking place since the advent of the internet that is moving society from a mainly resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy. By providing another 5 billion people across the world to the knowledge economy an unprecedented change could take place., driving the economy up, and impacting poverty worldwide.

“The internet’s impact on global growth is rising rapidly. The internet accounted for 21% of GDP growth over the last five years among developed countries… the internet is also a catalyst for job creation,” according to McKinsey & Co. While this kind of economic growth may not be immediate, the plan has potential to stimulate economies worldwide.

In order to achieve this feat, is delving into some large-scale innovative projects to combat even larger technological and socal challenges. Some of these include high-altitude, long-endurance planes, satellite systems and even lasers.

The founding members of this group are impressive, including tech giants Ericsson, Mediatek, Opera, Samsung, Nokia and Qualcomm. Looking at this short list of big names, it is not surprising that some have immediately questioned whether there are purely capitalist motives for these companies that are being disguised behind a humanitarian agenda.

However, in Deloitte’s study on the “Value of Connectivity” they found that “expanding internet access in developing countries to levels seen today in developed economies, we could increase productivity by as much as 25 percent, generating $2.2 trillion in GDP and more than 140 million new jobs, lifting 160 million people out of poverty,” while also having the ability to “deliver critical information on nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention. Once connected, people gain access to basic tools like health information, financial services and education that can help them live fuller, better lives and join the worldwide economy.” With the promise of this kind of massive economic benefit in the developing world, many believe that the motives behind this cooperative effort are somewhat irrelevant.

The concern over hidden agendas may provide the project with the high level of visibility both from those who are critical and those who are supportive. Ultimately, time will be what tells us if this project is able to have the kind of success that will drive the change that it expects.

– Leonna Spilman

Sources:, McKinsey & Company

Photo: La Nacion

The Global Development Buzz this week may be the buzz of a drone. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently announced plans to close the global internet access gap with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and lasers.

Only about one third of the world’s population has access to the internet. In 2012, according to the World Bank, internet access among the population of Eritrea amount to less than 1 percent. The same year, that figure was as high as 81 percent in the United States, while 96 percent of some populations of Northern Europe enjoyed internet access.

According to the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development, internet access may be a critical step towards development for many countries, by providing access to health care, education and basic social services. Bringing underdeveloped regions of the world into the internet circle could also spur greater economic growth. The linkup has the potential to connect otherwise resource-scarce enterprises with global markets, and, according to a recent study conducted by the consultancy firm Deloitte, could lift as many as 160 million people out of poverty by generating $2.2 trillion in GDP and creating 140 million jobs.

Facebook drones are one of the newer ideas, but Facebook isn’t alone in its efforts to close the internet access gap. Last year, Google announced a project to launch balloons into near space that will provide internet access to the remotest of areas. Launched in August 2013, partners Facebook with six mobile phone giants to increase internet access worldwide. Earlier this year, the cooperation announced SocialEDU: a pilot project that will deliver free education to students in Rwanda via smartphones.

According to some experts, like Ovem’s Mark Little, the real challenges lay beyond the technology. Governments in undeveloped countries are likely to present barriers to using air space to provide alternative methods of internet access.

Challenges notwithstanding, plans made by giants like Facebook and Google focus interest on addressing and eradicating global poverty, and how internet access could prove a vital stepping stone towards achieving these goals.

– Ben Hayes

Sources: BBC, Brookings, BBC,, BBC, ITU, The Richest, World Bank
Photo: Pando Daily