In Sub-Saharan Africa, 770 million people are unable to access the internet, meaning they do not enjoy the benefits of connectivity. Affordability of data and devices are significant barriers preventing access. In addition, low levels of digital literacy pose a further challenge that prevents users from exploring the full potential of the internet in their daily lives. A recent study showed that among those who are aware of mobile internet, a lack of literacy and digital skills was the biggest perceived barrier to adoption across regions, with 34% of people highlighting this as the reason for not coming online.
To help tackle these key issues, we have worked with a wide range of mobile industry partners in the region on training programs educating customers about smartphones and how to use them effectively. We have also invested in digital skills training via Grow with Google - a skills training program through which we have trained over 5 million people across Africa in digital skills. However, there is still a lot to be done to address the digital divide. Adoption of a scaled approach and wider collaboration are some of the critical ones to grow an understanding of mobile internet and ultimately result in usage.
We are excited to be partnering with GSMA to introduce a new Android training module to help more people better understand and take advantage of the Android platform to learn, grow, and connect. This new training module, which will be included in the latest version of the Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit (MISTT), will form a part of the GSMA connected society initiative, and will empower 2 million people with mobile internet skills by 2021.
The Android MISTT module teaches basic smartphone functionalities including creating a Google Account, using Google Assistant and other apps, as well as best practices for staying safe and secure while using your smartphone, and can be downloaded here.
Access to mobile internet provides many positive outcomes as well as societal and economic benefits - helping people stay connected with friends and family, get reliable information on a range of topics, do business and even simply do the things they love like watching their favorite videos online. The present global climate has shown that digital connectedness can be a lifeline for people in times of crises, and reemphasized why we must continue to invest and do more to improve access to and understanding of the internet for every African.