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Role of STEM in Developing CountriesScience, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are important for building and maintaining the development of any successful country. From the medical scientists, who develop treatments for diseases, to the civil engineers, who design and build a nation’s infrastructure, every aspect of human life is based on the discoveries and developments of scientists and engineers. The importance of STEM today should not be underestimated as its role is becoming increasingly significant in the future. The technology produced today is altering people’s lives at a rate faster than ever before. Consequently, it is vital for countries seeking to reduce their poverty levels to adopt new scientific research and technology. In doing so, these countries can improve their economy, health care system and infrastructure. As this impacts all aspects of society, the role of STEM in developing countries is of significant importance.

STEM and Economic Progress

STEM education fosters a skill set that stresses critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. This type of skill set encourages innovation among those who possess it. Similarly, a country’s economic development and stability are dependent on its ability to invent and develop new products. Technological innovation in the modern age is only obtainable through the expertise of specialists with knowledge of recent STEM research. Therefore, the role of STEM in developing countries is important because a country’s economy is completely dependent on new developments from technology and science.

Overall, the economic performance of metropolises with higher STEM-oriented economies is superior to those with lower STEM-oriented economies. Within these metropolises, there is lower unemployment, higher incomes, higher patents per worker (a sign of innovation), and higher imports and exports of gross domestic products. According to many experts, this holds true at a national level as well. The world’s most successful countries tend to efficiently utilize the most recent scientific developments and technologies.

In recent years, there is a major increase in the number of science and engineering degrees earned in India. India now has the largest number of STEM graduates in the world, putting the country on the right track for economic development. This has led to widespread innovation in India and a consistent increase in its gross domestic product. The role of STEM in developing countries can thus improve its economy. As of early 2019, India has seen an increase of 7.7 percent in its total GDP.

STEM and Health Care

Over the past 50 years, the Western world has made remarkable progress in medical science. With new breakthroughs developed through vaccinations and treatment, many serious diseases in developing countries are now curable. Common causes of death for children in developing countries are diseases such as malaria, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia. These diseases cause a large death toll in developing countries, but they have been largely eradicated from developed countries through proper vaccinations. As a result, these diseases take a large toll on the children of developing countries. In developing countries, a high percentage of the population is under 15 years of age. As such, it is important to prevent diseases that affect children under 15.

Lately, Brazil has seen an epidemic level of yellow fever which has resulted in numerous deaths. Brazil has addressed this by implementing a mass immunization campaign. In particular, this program will deliver vaccines to around 23.8 million Brazilian citizens in 69 different municipalities. The role of STEM in developing countries with preventable diseases will be vital to improving health and life expectancy rates.

Engineering and Infrastructure

Engineers build, create and design machines and public works to address needs and improve quality of life. Engineers construct and maintain a nation’s infrastructure, such as its fundamental facilities and systems. This includes roads, waterways, electrical grids, bridges, tunnels and sewers. Infrastructure is vital to a country, as it enables, maintains and enhances societal living conditions.

Subsequently, poor infrastructure can seriously hinder a nation’s economic development. This is the case in many African countries. Africa controls only 1 percent of the global manufacturing market despite accounting for 15 percent of the world’s total population. Ultimately, poor infrastructure, such as transportation, communications and energy, stunts a country’s ability to control a larger share of the national market.

Afghanistan has improved its energy infrastructure, using a large portion of the assistance received from the U.S. Through this effort, they have been able to reduce electricity loss from 60 percent to 35 percent. Consequently, they have improved long term sustainability and created a reliable energy system for their citizens. The role of STEM in developing countries is important on a large scale, improving infrastructure to impact their citizens’ daily lives.

STEM and the Future of the World

Societies seeking new scientific knowledge and encouraging creative and technological innovations will be able to properly utilize new technologies, increase productivity, and experience long term sustained economic growth. The developing societies that succeed will be able to improve the living standards of its population. As our world becomes more interconnected, countries prioritizing STEM education and research will make significant advances in alleviating poverty and sustaining economic, cultural and societal growth. Undoubtedly, the role of STEM in developing countries is of significant importance, just as it is in our modern world.

Randall Costa
Photo: Flickr

technological innovations are providing educationAround the world, rural and poor areas face the struggle to provide an education to their inhabitants. What makes matters worse is the difference in resources and environments poorer areas have access to compared to richer, largely technologically-driven communities.

Since most informational and communication technologies (ICTs) used in education originate from high-income environments, some technology-enabled solutions may not be adequate in certain places where they do not work or where they are too expensive to be replicated or sustained. There is a digital divide in access to technology and access to reliable power, and there is also a second digital divide in the degree to which the skills and abilities of people can improve from access to such technology.

Tackling the Digital Divide

On the bright side, technologists and education leaders are adapting different technologies to resolve this issue. Some important principles to incorporate in ICTs in low-income, remote educational environments are to prioritize sustainability, to focus on what devices can make possible rather than on what the devices can do and to start trying to implement tools where things are less likely to work first in order to identify possible issues.

One example of how technological innovations are providing education would be the MobiStation, a solar-powered “classroom in a suitcase.” Its projector and offline educational content provide innovative learning environments for children in Uganda. Another example would be BRCK, a connectivity device that addresses the lack of electricity and internet connections in Kenya.

How Technological Innovations Are Providing Education

There are various issues that come with providing education in the context of poor communities, thus there are many approaches that people have taken to implementing various solutions. The following are some examples that show how technological innovations are providing education by supplementing for the lack of access to resources with “old” technologies:

  • Interactive Radio Instruction’s broadcasts are able to provide instructions to teachers and students in many remote classrooms simultaneously by just making use of radios.
  • Similarly, Interactive Educational Television provides many students in the Amazon with an education by using televisions where teachers are not available. Also similarly, the Tata Sky Classroom is providing learning at a distance to students in India through television, radio, home video as well as on demand internet video.
  • Same language subtitling of Bollywood movies is helping millions of “low literate” people in India acquire reading skills.
  • Mobile phones in remote communities in Pakistan, Tanzania and Papua New Guinea provide access to educational content, alleviating some of the challenges that come with isolation of peers as well as lack of textbooks and other teaching materials.

There are also some offline tools that are not affected by the sporadic and unreliable internet connectivity in many poor regions. Low-cost e-readers distribute many books in digital formats to reading devices by taking innovative methods to cache online content for offline use. Affordable video cameras (like those found on mobile phones) provide Indonesian teachers a way of giving feedback to and sharing with other teachers their curricula.

In Cambodia, World Eduation, Inc. is working with Kampuchean Action for Primary Education to monitor students’ progress through reading material to identify those that need extra attention. The program makes use of networked laptops and encourages families to read at home.

Bringing Technologies to New Areas

Resources are spreading and developing in many areas that do not currently have them. Myanmar is slowly connecting to the internet and providing electricity to its rural regions with the help of global players like Ericsson, which is working to connect schools in Myanmar.

Furthermore, HP has set up seven Future Classrooms in India. These Future Classrooms, cloud-enabled classrooms that come with HP hardware and internet access and provides access to educational software tools like HP Video Book, are helping over 3,200 students and job seekers in India. SIMS is another program that comes with the package; it helps students manage their courses. Yet another program, HP Life, consists of 25 free, self-paced courses in seven languages. Its classes include business, IT and even entrepreneurship skills.

Even more, technological innovations are providing education by optimizing the number of people who can use educational tools. Low-cost versions of digital whiteboards and projectors allow up to 50 students in a single classroom to use one computer independently as long as they each have their own mouse.

The Hole in the Wall project places shared outdoor computing facilities in slum communities to educate children without formal schooling. Additionally, the Varkey Foundation, Dubai Cares and the Ghanaian Ministry of Education are collaborating to provide 40 schools in Ghana with a satellite dish, a projector, a solar-powered computer, a modern electronic blackboard and a trained instructor to provide biweekly training workshops for teachers.

Solutions for the Future

There are several solutions that develop educational content and tools locally. People in Afghanistan are making use of low end mobile phones to create resources that not only can be used by low literate users but also are relatively easy to develop. Also, Open Learning Exchange installs solar-powered Basic e-Learning Libraries (BeLLs) onto small computer hard drives in Ghana.

While there are many barriers to making current educational technologies useful to poor communities without access to electricity or internet, there are also many innovations that will change this. Technological innovations are providing education globally and will continue to help create a better future for the world.

– Connie Loo

Photo: Flickr

KenyaA start-up company located in Kenya called Flare has created an app that allows for its users to be connected to the nearest possible responders in the event of an emergency. “The response time of an ambulance is typically 162 minutes. With our app, it has dropped down to 15-20 minutes,” said co-founder Caitlin Dolkart to BBC News.

In places like the U.S., one can dial 911 and expect to receive help within a reasonable amount of time. In places like Nairobi, there are fifty different numbers available to call for emergency services, some of which remain unanswered because of the swarm of prank calls flooding the lines. Emergency services in Kenya cannot reach people in need if they are simply unable to be connected.

Flare connects a person in an emergency to a responder, who then uses one of the many tools available to track and locate the appropriate services nearest to the emergency. Responders have access to over fifty hospitals that have registered with Flare, as well as the option to choose the most suitable vehicle depending on equipment on board and the expertise of the staff. While emergency service numbers are still relevant, they’re not always as quick or successful as Flare has proven to be.

Flare has revolutionized emergency services in Kenya by putting people first with the following innovations:

  • Live traffic
    By using Google Maps, dispatchers tell drivers the quickest route to an emergency facility around traffic jams.
  • Hydrant mapping
    By locating and recording where functional fire hydrants are, fire agencies can save valuable time.
  • Staggering shift changes
    As Dolkart said to BBC News, “We learned there is a lack of ambulances between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. due to shift handovers.” Staggering the shift changes for ambulance companies makes sure there are always some ambulances available.

The creators of Flare saw where the emergency services in Kenya were failing people and decided to create something that would improve the system’s flaws. There have been countless lives that have been saved due to police arriving on time, ambulances reaching an injured person and a facility within half an hour and plenty more. With emergency services improving so much in Nairobi, Kenya, one can only hope that this app can expand to more places where this problem still persists.

– Irimar Waters

Photo: Flickr


The Internet and other advances in communication technology have helped make the spreading of globalization even quicker. For developing countries, access to technology can have many benefits —  one such improvement being the boost of a nation’s economy. Other ways that technology is helping economies in developing countries is by reducing the costs of production, encouraging growth of new business and advancing communication.

An issue that developing countries must bypass is prioritizing technology innovation, not just adapting to technology. Another issue is that the distribution of technology needs to be equal across a country; so far the poor have not been able to have the same amount of access to technology. It is important for organizations to monitor technology and to encourage innovations and job creation in order to solve these issues.

One organization that works to do just that is Broadband for Good, a group that gives internet access to rural areas and encourages programs to utilize the technology in creating progress in communities.

When technology is used correctly it can be extremely helpful in furthering the prosperity of economies. One such example of technology creating a positive impact to the economy is in regard to India — the Self-Employed Women’s Association uses SMS to send agricultural workers messages about commodity prices. This information helps farmers determine best places to sell their produce. Farmers who participated in this program have said that they have been able to sell their products over wider areas, which has increased their incomes.

Another example, also in India, is the Hand in Hand Partnership (HIHP). The HIHP is an organization that provides women with mobile devices so that they can launch their own tech-driven businesses. The HIHP helps train and provide technical support for these women. By encouraging women to innovate ideas instead of just giving them technology, HIHP is helping to better the economy in a sustainable and long-term way.

Other countries successful in creating businesses are Nigeria, Egypt and Indonesia. Thirty eight percent of these countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) was generated by micro-entrepreneurs. In a 2011 World Bank report, figures showed that small businesses like these create new jobs and generate new ideas — both of which are great for helping economies.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr

Instagram Provides a View of GazaIn June 2007, Israel began a strict land, sea and air blockade of Gaza. Nearly two million people live locked inside, the borders rigorously controlled. The movement of goods and humans are harshly restricted, and for as much as 72 percent of the population, food supplies are uncertain. 41 percent are unemployed. Hospitals must rely on generators to maintain life-saving equipment, and their stock of medicine dwindles dangerously. Drinking water is in danger of running out if the highly-taxed desalinization plants break down.

Through the camera lenses of two Palestinian women, Instagram provides a view of Gaza that few outsiders are allowed to see. Though forbidden to leave Gaza, Kholoud Nassar and Fatma Mosabah are Instagram celebrities by showing the world there is more to Gaza than the war. Each woman has over 100,000 Instagram followers. Through images captured by Nassar and Mosabah on their cell phones, Instagram provides a view of Gaza to those who live outside its restrictive borders. The people of Gaza, locked inside a land mass the approximate size of Philadelphia, recognize Nassar and Mosabah several times a day,

Israel guards Gaza’s borders to the east and north by Israel, Egypt to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Gazans must obtain permission to leave the area. Neither Nassar nor Mosabah has left Gaza in over 10 years. Also, Israel denies tourists permission to visit Gaza. The rest of the world can only imagine what life is like inside the heavily guarded strip. Since 2008, three wars have played out between Hamas and Israel. For most, the mention of Gaza conjures visions of devastation, poverty and suffering.

Although Gazans receive just a short period of electricity each day, social media sites are remarkably popular. Palestinian Social Media Club president Ali Bkheet calculates that approximately 50 percent of Gazans have Facebook accounts. The number utilizing Twitter and Instagram are significantly smaller.

According to Bkheet, the decade-long Israeli blockade makes Gazans particularly enthusiastic to use social media to express themselves and narrate the story of Gaza.

Rather than using text to educate outsiders about life in Gaza, Kholoud Nassar and Fatma Mosabah depict the people and the beauty of their homeland through pictures. Instagram’s focus on photos over text and political debates enables the two women to show a different side of Gaza that exists behind the Israeli-built steel mesh fence.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Google

Innovations Against PovertyEven with active funding partners, some development agencies may fall short if lacking internal infrastructure. While funding is certainly an important aspect of achieving sustainable development goals, it may be just as important to ensure that the strategists and support for development projects are up to date and relevant. SNV: Smart Development Works is a nonprofit that works toward providing such resources through an expansive network of professionals in a variety of different sectors. SNV works with policy experts, local governments, private business and institutes of higher learning to provide lasting differences in extremely poor communities.

SNV was founded in the Netherlands in the mid-’60s and has since established itself in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Expertise in sectors relating to agriculture, energy, water, sanitation and health have helped solve problems locally and provide sustainable solutions to poverty. SNV is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency and managed in partnership with BoP Innovation Center and Inclusive Business Sweden.

SNV has several projects on the ground and one in particular worth noting. Innovations Against Poverty is working in the private sector to develop products and services that can aid in fighting global poverty. This particular mission has focused its efforts on younger demographics as well as women in order to empower groups to shift gender and age paradigms. Companies can apply for the Innovations Against Poverty program to get funding that incentivizes innovation, entrepreneurship and consumption of goods and services in their communities.

Innovations Against Poverty was created with the idea that the private sector is a powerful mechanism for creating jobs and increasing incomes while also providing necessary goods and services to a community. Low-income markets in impoverished communities contain business opportunities that can be sustainably exploited with adequate startup funds and resources. Innovations Against Poverty exists to stimulate development where it otherwise would not exist, with financial support ranging from $60,000 to $200,000. Innovations Against Poverty gains a non-reimbursable capital return and provides advisory support for its investors. This support includes training and coaching from international experts. The program also narrows its support to cases that are not seen as “risk free”, thereby investing in businesses that may not receive support in most cases.

Innovations Against Poverty has registered over 1300 companies since its inception and is expected to grow. These innovative solution investments have primarily been made in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zambia, with a focus in the agriculture and energy sectors. With continued success, Innovations Against Poverty can foster development in more countries all over the world.

Casey Hess

Photo: Flickr

Hungary_refugeeThough the European refugee crisis has largely faded from the international media’s spotlight, thousands of asylum-seekers continue to enter Europe by any means possible with the hopes of starting a new life. In the face of this ongoing humanitarian crisis, the Hungarian grassroots organization Migration Aid has harnessed the power of social media as a means of delivering aid and guidance to thousands of refugees.

Migration Aid was founded in June 2015, at the height of the European refugee crisis, by a handful of concerned citizens in Budapest that desired to help people in Hungary. The organization originated as a closed group on Facebook, which was utilized as a virtual planning board for orchestrating aid delivery, which included food and supplies distribution. The organization also consisted of various specialty groups with coordinators assigned to handle legal matters, storage, logistics and any other issues. Migration Aid set up centers in the railway stations of Budapest and the surrounding area, and quickly grew to over 600 volunteers.

Two years have elapsed since the group’s inception, during which time Migration Aid has helped feed, clothe and provide direction to thousands of refugees, but the situation faced by asylum-seekers in Hungary remains extremely tenuous. Hungary’s geographic location has forced the country into a major role in the crisis, as it is a popular by-way for migrants hoping to settle further afield from the Middle East in Northern and Western Europe. Between January and August of 2017, 2,491 asylum applications were registered in Hungary alone.

The European Union has endeavored to establish a comprehensive and effective means of responding to what has become the largest global displacement crisis since World War II. In September 2015, the European Commission announced a minimum quota of refugees that each EU member country would be expected to host, with the intention of fairly distributing the burden of providing for the record numbers of migrants streaming into the continent. It was also in September 2015 that Hungary closed its borders to refugees, and began strictly limiting their movement throughout the country.

Furthermore, Hungarian officials have resisted compliance with the quotas and policies made obligatory for all members of the EU. In March 2017, the Hungarian government implemented a law requiring that all refugees whose asylum applications were pending be housed in detention centers. When it was discovered that the housing units available at these detention centers were comprised of shipping containers, and that refugees were being forced to pay for their stay, the United Nations refugee agency urged the E.U. to stop sending asylum seekers to Hungary, declaring this mandatory detention a violation of international law that guarantees people access to asylum.

Additionally, Viktor Mihály Orbán, a Hungarian politician, petitioned the European Commission President to exempt Hungary from the migrant relocation quotas, a request which was denied and earned the Hungarian government a lawsuit for failure to comply.

In the face of the conditions now being imposed on refugees, Migration Aid has developed new strategies to help people in Hungary. Recognizing the need for information dissemination pertaining to the new laws and regulations, the organization developed a new application named InfoAid, which seeks to provide information to asylum-seekers in their native language. According to Migration Aid’s website, the InfoAid app seeks to provide the following types of information:

  • what rules apply to them
  • where they can receive care
  • what is going on in transport
  • where there is safe drinking water in Hungary
  • where and how they should buy train tickets
  • where they can receive medical care
  • how they should collect the waste they generate
  • where, when and why they have to register and what exactly it involves

The InfoAid app supplies information in English, Arabic, Urdu and Farsi. Migration Aid is currently seeking the help of volunteer translators so that they can keep up with the need for translated information, as well as expand their offerings to include Greek and Pashto.

Thanks to internet technology, anyone around the world with relevant language skills wondering how to help people in Hungary can act as an invaluable source of aid by donating their time and skills. More information about volunteering can be found on Migration Aid’s official website, or on the Facebook page.

For individuals desirous of contributing but who lack the language skills requisite to volunteer, Migration Aid also accepts monetary donations, which are fundamental to the organization’s ability to help people in Hungary. Now more than ever, the innovative and progressive efforts that this organization continues to make on behalf of refugees in Hungary is a tremendous source of hope and comfort to many.

Savannah Bequeaith

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in the Solomon IslandsIn 1568, Spanish explorer Álvaro de Mendaña became the first European to visit the 992-island archipelago known today as the Solomon Islands. He named the islands after the wealthy and wise biblical king of Israel, inspired, as legend goes, by a belief that their cerulean seas and white-sand shores guarded untold riches. That assumption was largely mistaken, as seen in the poverty rate in the Solomon Islands today.

 

Exploring the Poverty Rate in the Solomon Islands

 

Although modern tourism has added to the Islands’ economic portfolio, these profits are still few and far between and unevenly distributed. The vast majority of wealth is concentrated in the capital city, Honiara, in which 85 percent of the population is in the Islands’ highest wealth quintile.

According to the Asian Development Bank, in 2013, 12.7 percent of Solomon Islanders lived below the national poverty line. Nutrition-wise, they fared better: only 4.4 percent lived below the food poverty line. However, a mere 35.1 percent had access to electricity.

Technological developments and investment continue to play a vital role in reducing poverty in the Solomon Islands. In April 2017, the World Bank reported that the Green Climate Fund has approved $86 million toward the Tina River Hydropower Project, an effort to reduce reliance on imported fuel for electricity generation. This investment accompanies the $15 million provided by the International Renewable Energy Agency/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (IRENA/ADFD).

The Solomon Islands’ electricity retail tariffs are currently among the highest in the world, at $0.65 per kilowatt-hour. Given that the Islands generate 97 percent of their electricity from diesel fuel and only 12 percent of homes are currently connected to grid power, this project stands to reduce the burden on working families and illuminate the islands like never before.

And, with electricity, the Islands should see an economic boost. The Asian Development Bank notes that tourism is a largely untapped market with great potential for development. Cheaper and more abundant energy is good for more than just powering residential areas: it can also lay groundwork for the sort of 24-hour “City of Light” that modern tourism creates and feeds on. With a stronger, cheaper energy grid in place, private investment will follow.

New technology and investments like these, guided by sound and prescient public policy, will be crucial to reducing the poverty rate in the Solomon Islands and materializing those mythical riches dreamed of since the days of de Mendaña.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

How Is Poverty ReducedMost modern technology is marketed towards the world’s wealthy, but that should not inhibit its potential to help the world’s poor. As prices fall and production increases, affordable and basic technology may be the solution for eradicating global poverty.

How is poverty reduced through basic technology? First and foremost, by understanding the realistic and productive uses for technology in a community and ensuring that it is relevant.

Too often there are stories of computers collecting dust in African classrooms, or new smartphone apps that can help impoverished people find work — in places where smartphones are unattainable. Despite the vast amount of information on the internet, it is hardly relevant to a rural family in a developing country and will rarely help them escape poverty. In reality, the technology that will help end poverty is more basic.

The United Nations is at the forefront of this vision, with the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) working towards the global spreading of information and communications technology (ICT). Founded in 1996, the IICD has come a long way in understanding the pragmatic strategy needed for implementing modern technology in developing countries. The IICD has learned that “it is not the technology itself that makes the difference but rather the people who own it and apply it.” Therefore, helping people get the most out of ICT is now as equally important to the organization’s mission as introducing it.

The IICD works to apply ICT to health, economic and education sectors in different communities around the world. It’s main focus is in the context of helping the U.N. meet its Millennium Development Goals — an effort that the IICD has been at the center of. In short, the IICD works to instigate large-scale social change through low-tech, relevant technology.

Other organizations, such as Kopernik, work on a smaller scale to improve the lives of many through simple technology. Kopernik connects poor, rural families with basic, life-altering technologies that not only save lives, but also save money and time. These simple technologies include water filters, fuel-efficient stoves and solar lights.

Technologies such as solar lights are affordable and sustainable, and their usage is linked to positive behavioral changes and higher household productivity. Investing and distributing this basic technology should be a major priority, for it is fundamental to increasing human development and reducing poverty.

It is not to say that computers and the internet are not infinitely useful and powerful, but we should keep in mind that the internet won’t help a child if they only have access to contaminated water. So, perhaps the question of how to eliminate poverty has a simple answer: distribute relevant, basic technology.

Catherine Fredette

Photo: Google


Bill Gates once referred to the Internet as “the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Even with fewer Internet users than the rest of the world, Africa has begun to find its way to the so-called town square, as women’s mobile Internet use in Africa has increased dramatically in this part of the world.

A recent survey found that the number of women who use mobile Internet in Africa has surpassed that of men, as more and more women use the Internet in search of entertainment and tools for empowerment.

Global software company Opera and digital reading non-profit Worldreader joined forces to conduct a survey on the Internet habits of people in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa.

Opera ran a survey of 1,500 men and women between the ages of 14 and 44 to better understand how people use the Internet on their mobile devices. These results were combined with data from Worldreader, which provided information on the mobile reading habits of 50,000 of the app’s users in those three countries.

Together, Opera and Worldreader found that women are equally as “tech-savvy” as men. Women use their Internet browsers just as frequently as men do, and 60% of women surveyed in Kenya and Nigeria reported using the Internet over eight times a day. Not only do women use the Internet as much as men, but they also tend to purchase larger data packages in all three countries.

In addressing these statistics, it is important to understand why women are using the Internet so frequently. The survey found that two motives—entertainment and empowerment—were the reasons behind women’s Internet use.

Across the board, women in these three countries engaged with a broader variety of content on the Internet than their male counterparts did. One in three women who took part in this survey said that they used the Internet to browse lifestyle, music, and entertainment content.

However, women found it just as important to use the Internet for empowerment purposes. Many women were interested in ways that they could improve their lives in areas such as education, property rights, and health. They also emphasized the importance of having access to the news.

For many women, access to the Internet could be the key to greater educational opportunity. As women’s mobile Internet use in Africa continues to increase, more and more women will be equipped with the tools they need to empower themselves and improve their quality of life.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr