There are currently over 2 billion people living on less than $2 USD per day, and over 1 billion living on less than $1 USD per day. In today’s fast-paced world, governments, charities, and other organizations are increasingly turning to the internet to help solve poverty issues around the globe. Here are five ways that the internet can help solve poverty in developing countries. (more)
The Digital Divide
Internet penetration is lowest in some of the world’s poorest areas: Sub-Saharan Africa has a penetration rate of 25%, while the Asia Pacific has 54%. These low rates have been attributed to inadequate infrastructure and prohibitively high costs. The internet access gap between poor and rich countries is predicted to widen dramatically in the coming years, with 63% of all new connections taking place in just eight emerging economies (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa). The digital divide is also likely to be driven by device ownership. In 2015 only 15% of individuals from developing countries owned a smartphone as compared to 70% from developed countries.
The Internet has become an essential part of modern life, but if you live in a poverty-stricken area and don’t have reliable access to it, you might be at a significant disadvantage. Digital literacy is all about closing that gap. Making sure everyone knows how to use computers, tablets and smartphones can help you set up your own digital business or improve your chances of getting hired for one. The trick is making sure everyone has access to learning opportunities. It can be as simple as setting up mobile devices so people in local communities can teach themselves new skills on YouTube.
Social media has empowered marginalized populations all over the world. People who wouldn’t otherwise have a voice can share their stories and rally others to join them in their cause. Social media lets people get in touch with like-minded individuals, regardless of where they live or what they look like. The Internet empowers communities by giving everyone, no matter how small or how large, a chance to share their story with as many people as possible. But it doesn’t stop there; platforms such as Facebook let users see content created by groups and brands within their own country—and then around it—to build awareness of causes that need help and create real-world action towards ending poverty once and for all.
It’s true that information technology will create more jobs than it destroys. Some of these will be in Silicon Valley; others in small cities and towns across America that are now home to call centers, data-processing offices, and back-office operations. The Internet isn’t going to put everybody out of work. At worst, it might cause us to rethink what a job is. In fact, we’ll probably find ourselves working more than ever—but for ourselves instead of for someone else.
Worldwide, 2.5 billion people are excluded from conventional banking and finance. That’s nearly half of humanity. And it’s largely because of poor people. Don’t have access to a safe place to store their money or credit with which to start a business. But all that could change thanks to bitcoin, and mobile phones. And other technologies now enable people around the world to send payments quickly and cheaply over long distances. These new technologies can have a big impact on reducing poverty by creating opportunities for financial services in places where they haven’t previously existed—while also empowering some of society’s most vulnerable members by providing them with access to new resources they can use as seed capital for a small business or higher education investment.
Education Through Technology
From online degrees to distance learning to e-textbooks, technology is revolutionizing education. Just one example. A 2009 study by UNESCO and Microsoft found that internet access in India was linked to higher educational achievement. With access to relevant content, students can take advantage of real-time. Discussions with teachers and other students—even those from distant parts of their country or world. The fact that it’s open 24/7 means they don’t have to miss class if they have a question after school hours or on weekends, which is especially useful for families in rural areas who may not be able to afford private tutors.
If there’s one thing that connects most folks in poverty, it’s access to technology. There is a real difference between having internet access. And being digitally literate. But even those who can’t write an essay have grown accustomed to checking email and surfing for information. So they are likely capable of learning computer skills. In addition to helping you find jobs or apply for them online, basic computer literacy teaches you how to manage your digital identity. This may not seem like much now if you live in a country with strict laws regarding ID theft and fraud. But as we continue down our path toward digitizing more government services. Even small bits of digital literacy will become increasingly important.