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Harris announced plans to help 80 percent of Africa’s population access the Internet, compared to 40 percent now

Harris announced plans to help 80 percent of Africa’s population access the Internet, compared to 40 percent now

FILE PHOTO: US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a ceremony marking ‘Bloody Sunday’, in Selma, Alabama, US, March 3, 2024. REUTERS/Megan Varner

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris announced Friday the formation of a new partnership to help provide internet access to about 80 percent of Africa by 2030, up from about 40 percent now.

This announcement comes as a follow-up to Harris’ visit to the continent last year and in conjunction with Kenyan President William Ruto’s visit to Washington this week. Harris and the Kenyan leader held a public conversation Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on how public-private partnerships can increase economic growth.

“Many can rightly argue that the future lies in the continent of Africa,” Harris said, noting that the average lifespan in Africa is 19 years, which is a sign of the potential for economic growth. “It’s not about aid, it’s just about investment and understanding what capabilities exist.”

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Africa has struggled to obtain the capital needed to build its industrial and technological sectors. The United Nations reported last year that foreign direct investment in the continent fell to $45 billion in 2022, from a record level of $80 billion in 2021. Africa accounts for only 3.5 percent of foreign direct investment worldwide, although it It constitutes about 18 percent of foreign direct investment worldwide. world population.

Alongside launching the non-profit Partnership for Digital Access in Africa, Harris announced an initiative aimed at giving 100 million African people and businesses in the agricultural sector access to the digital economy.

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The African Development Bank Group alongside Mastercard, among other organisations, will help form the Mobilization of Access Alliance for the Digital Economy, or MADE. The alliance will begin a pilot program to give digital access to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, before expanding elsewhere.

Harris, a Democrat and the first female vice president of the United States, also announced that Women in the Digital Economy’s efforts to address the gender gap in access to technology have now generated more than $1 billion in public and private commitments, with some federal commitments awaiting congressional approval. .

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FILE PHOTO: US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a ceremony marking ‘Bloody Sunday’, in Selma, Alabama, US, March 3, 2024. REUTERS/Megan Varner