The internet has enabled mass information sharing and in recent years, education has been taken to the next level thanks to e-learning programs and applications. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, lack of reliable internet access prevents citizens from benefitting from online education. Innovative entrepreneurs, like the founders of our portfolio company, BRCK, are working to solve this problem and deliver global internet access. Below are articles highlighting how achieving global connectivity will contribute to social and economic development.
E-Learning Makes Higher Education Possible for More African Students by Dana Sanchez on AFK Insider
A growing number of African students are earning university degrees from around the world thanks to e-learning. Professors thousands of miles away are using applications such as Skype to communicate with students, allowing students in Sub-Saharan Africa without access to local higher education to finally attend college. African politicians are catching on following the success of the African Virtual University that trained 43,000 students using virtual learning since it was launched in partnership with Indiana University. Today, 19 African countries have sighted a charter establishing AVU as an intergovernmental organization.
While these are positive developments for education in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has seen the lowest university attendance in the world, poor internet access will hinder widespread adoption of e-learning. It will be critical that innovations in infrastructure are made in order for those living in remote areas to benefit from e-learning.
Today, only one-third of the world has internet access. In an age where connectivity means access to information, the knowledge gap between the connected and not connected will continue to grow unless global connectivity is achieved. Companies like Facebook are beginning to invest in non-traditional infrastructures to provide internet access to the 5 billion people without connectivity, the majority of whom live in developing countries.
One example of an innovation taking giant leaps in bridging the growing knowledge divide is our portfolio company, BRCK. BRCK is a mobile, self-powered Wi-Fi device that allows users to connect to the internet from remote areas. The portable modem is delivering connectivity to rural villages where power is sparse. Frankie Onuong of BRCK describes the benefits saying, “With Internet connectivity, the community will be able to access government services, access educational content and sell…beautiful artwork abroad.”
Ushahidi, a Kenyan-Born Tech company that spun out BRCK, created on open-source crowd mapping software that places power at the fingertips of ordinary citizens, working to fill the information void in East Africa. Today the company has evolved into an ever-expanding tech company, and Ushahidi’s digital tools have been used to generate sites that monitor everything from natural disasters and human rights violations to costs of goods around the world.