Internet access drives development

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Internet usage can increase a country’s development and governments need to ensure access as well as education about technology to ensure its citizens progress.

This was the take-out message from a meeting between Robert Pepper, vice-president for technology policy for Cisco Systems, and Independent Media editors.

Robert Pepper, vice-president for technology policy for Cisco Systems (right), and Independent Media owner Iqbal Surve (left), also chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Robert Pepper, vice-president for technology policy for Cisco Systems (right), and Independent Media owner Iqbal Surve (left), also chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Cisco is a technology company based in California, US, which designs and sells computer networking equipment. Independent Media publishes this and other newspapers.

Pepper said “using the Internet is an income multiplier”.

“It increase’s people’s standard of living. It closes the income inequality gap between countries. But it also widens the income inequality gap in a country,” he said.

“Those who are adopting (Internet usage) and those who don’t are standing still. It is imperative that everybody gets connected.”

Pepper said international research from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and other institutions showed that countries with greater Internet access had seen growth in various sectors and in the private lives of citizens.

Pepper was in Cape Town for this week’s WEF. He said access to the Internet had to be coupled though with “training small businesses and Internet users how to use it for marketing their business”.

Apart from simply providing access to the Internet, governments also needed to ensure that men and women had equal access to it, which is not the case in numerous countries, said Pepper.

He added: “If women have Internet access they are more likely to use it for education and banking.”

Pepper said an additional 1,1-billion people are forecast to start using the Internet within the next five years. That would mean a total 51% of the world’s population would be online

The regions where this growth would take place are Latin America, South Asia and Africa, said Pepper.

He said 80% of the Internet’s traffic would be directed towards video saved online for viewing online or live-streaming.

This meant traditional media companies needed to move in this direction or lag behind, he said.

“If you look at the newspapers I read, if you go to their websites they have video clips and journalists filming their stories with their phones. It’s a multimedia experience,” said Pepper.

Iqbal Surve, chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, said their subsidiary Independent Media would increase its video content output for its website.

“The entire business needs to be video driven. You can’t do video as an aside. It has to be fully integrated into what we do. We now have a mobile journalism concept,” said Surve.

Pepper said the “four variables that drive the increased consumption of data; adding more people, more devices, a faster network and rich media content”.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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