How the Web is Changing Africa

 

Africa has been called the „dark continent“for a long time because it lacks technology, electricity and other achievements of the modern world. However, this image is beginning to change. Africa is starting to catch up with industrial countries and the driving force behind this new development is the Internet and the World Wide Web.

For telecommunication companies Africa is the fastest growing region on Earth. Governments, businesses and individuals have realized that in order to develop quicker and narrow the gap between developed and developing countries modern technology is needed.


Only ten years ago sim cards used to cost about $100 in Niger. Today you can buy one for under $2 and phone calls have become much cheaper too.  As a result, the West African country with a population of over 170 million has over 100 mobile phone subscribers. Equipped with this new service people can connect to the Internet as well. About 50 million Nigerians have access to the World Wide Web and about a third of them do so with mobile phones.

In March a video channel similar to YouTube got the rights to broadcast hundreds of Nigerian films free of charge. The company gets its money from advertising on the website.

In Ethiopia farmers can now get the prices of their farming products in real time. Until recently, most of the small farmers of the country did not know what their products cost at a certain time. Today, they can phone in on a toll-free number and get an up-to-the minute report on prices. Farmers around the continent increasingly check the Internet for information on crop diseases or how to sell their product best.

The web has contributed to a political change too. The Arab Spring and the revolts throughout Northern Africa would not have been possible without Twitter and Facebook. Thus more and more people follow what is happening on the African continent.

However, one main problem remains. Although more and more Africans can access the internet, the service remains relatively slow. Many telecommunication companies and governments are investing in hardware and new, faster connections.

 

 

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Words

  • access = the right to use a service
  • achievement = important things that are done
  • although = while
  • business = company
  • contribute = to give ideas and help something
  • develop = grow, expand
  • developing country = poor country  of the Third World
  • development = growth
  • disease = illness
  • driving force = something that strongly influences people and makes them do something
  • electricity = the power that is carried by wires and cables and is used to give us light and make machines work
  • equip = here: together with this
  • free of charge = without having to pay
  • gap = space
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • however = but
  • image = picture
  • increasingly = more and more
  • lack = not enough of
  • narrow = to make smaller
  • population = all the people who live in a country
  • real time = as fast as something happens
  • recently = shortly
  • remain = stay
  • revolt = uprising, violent events
  • right = to be allowed to
  • sim card = plastic card in a mobile phone that stores your personal information and telephone numbers
  • subscriber = someone who pays regularly to use a service
  • throughout = in all of
  • toll-free = you do not have to pay for the call
  • up-to-the-minute = with all the latest information