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OPINION: Government Should Embrace Internet Usage to Cut Expenditure

By Muhindo Apollo Morgan

The use of internet has evolved from the western world to the African continent just in a few decades.

In Africa, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa are the countries that have benefited from this world wide path that every country in the world is taking.

Internet has been used to “cut’’ expenditures in governmental departments, in human rights activism, democratic process among others

The Internet in Africa is growing fast.

Its penetration levels are about 20% and rising. Mobile subscriptions are just shy of 70%, and mobile broadband access accounts for more than 90% of Internet subscriptions.

At the high end of the spectrum, countries such as Morocco enjoy penetration rates above 50%, but at the other end are countries with penetration rates below 2%, and the majority of countries have Internet penetration of less than 10%.

No wonder the countries talked about here are the most developed countries, the use of internet is significant and will be more significant in the nearby future.

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The Internet is increasingly a private-sector-led communications medium, where businesses and entrepreneurs realize new economic opportunities.

An Internet economy, as commonly understood, refers to the economic activities directly associated with the use of the Internet – comprising access to and use of the Internet, investment in infrastructure, and expenditure in Internet activity in a country.

This may involve businesses both on the supply side (those that make the Internet available to others) and the demand side (those that make use of it) as well as other Internet-enabled and Internet-dependent businesses.

Specific businesses that play critical roles in the Internet economy can be clustered into several groups, including:

Internet service providers (ISPs) and cybercafés businesses that supply access devices such as handsets.

Businesses that provide content, including: platforms such as web browsers like search engines like google, social networks like., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; shared content resources such as YouTube and Wikipedia; newspaper groups; entertainment; online shopping services; media and advertising, Internet registrars which sell domain names, web and application designers including designers of mobile apps and data Centre businesses, Internet business communities are growing in Africa, albeit not as extensively as those in high-income markets such as Europe or North America.

As such, Africa’s Internet economy as a proportion of GDP still lags leading industrialized nations. As some studies indicate, the average contribution of the Internet economy to GDP in the most advanced economies research has it that in 2010 was 4.1%, expected to grow to 5.3% by 2016; the average for developed markets was 4.3%, growing to 5.5% by 2016; and for all developing markets it was 3.6% expected to grow to 4.9% by 2016.

By comparison, the average contribution for South Africa, for instance, was 1.9% in 2010, 2% in 2011 and is expected to be 2.5% by 201619.

In Uganda there are several Café stations that have been opened, everything seems to be shifting to electronic process, an example of these are the use of mobile banking  E-Banking and E-shopping among others.

Other governments which appreciate this world change have introduced E-governance to improve on citizens’ participation in public debates, consultations and through democratic governance like introducing online voting, online decision making processes, and other forms of participation include online public discussions.

From world over, the issue of human rights and awareness has been a result of internet, were human rights activists have utilized social media platforms to mobilize and sensitize the public on issues of human rights in countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and the Middle East demonstrated the power of the Internet to mobilize social activism, it is from this back drop that several Instruments both domestic and international have been passed to determine which rights and how such rights can be enjoyed online but the bottom of the whole argument is that human rights apply online in the same way as they do offline, including the right to privacy.

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution in December 2013 on the right to privacy in the digital age, which affirmed this point and this has been a move that African Union has since take at the global IGF in 2014, a coalition of organizations launched the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms which is aimed at promoting human rights and openness in policy-making and implementation as they relate to Internet development in Africa.

Suffice to say, these freedoms are challenged by repressive laws, state-sponsored surveillance, and regulation to control online media, detention and arrests of bloggers and social-media activists and users

Despite the fact that internet is now a big factor in economic, social and political development, save for the aforementioned challenges, there is a challenge of cybercrimes and in Uganda I am happy to note that this has been handled through the Misuse of Computers Act of parliament which protects the general public through safety and security of electronic transactions and information systems among many things.

The future of internet is just glaring and it is a threat to our usual old systems of human beings as a major Labour resource, in Homos Deus A book by Yuval Harari, there is an indication that there is a growth of artificial intelligence such as robots to do the work, recently it was reported that in the west, cows are being milked by robots, The future holds that shopping, banking, advertisements, government and nongovernmental institutional procurements shall be done online, This  should be embraced for being cost effective to governments and business.

My appeal to the government is to ease the access of affordable smart phones and a making the access of internet tariffs as cheap as possible; this will help the citizenry in accessing information about all fields such as agriculture and any developments from the rest of the world.

The ministry of Information is one of the least funded; this can be evident from the national budgets for the last four financial years, yet this Ministry cuts across all governmental organs.

The writer is a law student at Nkumba Law School.

Email: [email protected]

Tel:0756541023/0788657115

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