Members from over 90 Hubs of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers community, extending from Cape Town to Cairo, have joined forces to lead a debate that will take place on the continent’s digital future at the forthcoming World Economic Forum on Africa.
The Shapers, a worldwide network of committed and community-minded young leaders between the ages of 20 and 30, have come together from across Africa under the campaign #internet4all to make sure that the voices of millennials are heard in the debate about how to ensure that all Africans are able to enjoy the economic and societal benefits of the internet.
To date the campaign, which was launched on 6 April, has focused on galvanizing momentum among the 21% of Africans that have access to the internet. A high-profile social media campaign, enlisting the support of Rwanda-born businessman Ashish Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group, and Hamisi Kigwangalla, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, has so far generated over 40 million online impressions.
The immediate priority of the Shapers’ campaign is to focus attention on the forthcoming World Economic Forum on Africa, which takes place in Kigali, Rwanda, on 11-13 May. The meeting will host high-level discussions among leaders from government, business and civil society to put forward plans on how to improve the conditions necessary for widespread internet adoption in the region.
“#internet4all isn’t just a call to action for African leaders in the public and private sector; it is in itself living proof on how broadening access to the internet can drive collaboration on a massive scale, and empower Africans to leverage the Internet to do more with less,” said Lauren Uppink, Execution Strategist, Africa Health Placements, South Africa, a member of the Global Shapers Cape Town hub.
“We know that internet for all in Africa can only be achieved by focusing in equal measure on access, affordability, skills and content. Our focus in Kigali will be to bring together both the knowledge and the leaders whose support is necessary to make this happen. The involvement of the Shapers and young people in general is absolutely essential to this process,” said Alex Wong, Head, Global Challenge Partnerships, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.
In addition to making their presence felt in Kigali, the Shapers are preparing for the long term. Built around a new website, the campaign also plans to launch a petition as well as host a number of local-based events to highlight the benefits that greater internet adoption can bring in terms of growth, health, education and a well-functioning society.
More than 1,200 participants are taking part in the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, from 11 to 13 May 2016. The theme of the meeting is “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”.