RLabs had the opportunity to participate in a Digital Inclusion Forum in London end of March bringing together a number of key stakeholders from 9 countries. The aim of the forum was to discuss how to ensure that those most vulnerable and marginalized. Many consumers in developing countries are unable to take part in the mobile internet revolution because they lack awareness of what the mobile internet is and the skills to use the internet proficiently. Another challenge is that there are more than 774 Million illiterate adults and majority of website on the Internet is in English although most of the global population don’t speak English. Other reasons why many people especially in Africa have not accessed the Internet is because of a lack of digital literacy. RLabs have over the years committed itself to digital literacy and have already supported more than 30,000 community members with digital literacy skills.
The discussions at the forum tried to address the following key questions:
– What are the barriers of Digital Inclusion?
– What segments of the population are most likely to be digitally excluded?
– What makes a successful digital inclusion program?
– What are the desired outcomes of a digital inclusion program?
– Which stakeholders are best placed to lead digital inclusion initiatives?
The main highlight was the realisation that digital inclusion can have a massive economic impact in the local context. It was also good to see that the work being done by RLabs have been acknowledged as being key in ensuring digital inclusion for those who are excluded in marginalized communities.
Some of the barriers to digital inclusion were digital literacy and access to the internet. Both of these are barriers that RLabs addresses through its Academy and Youth Cafe programmes. The discussions also highlighted that the population mostly digitally excluded are the elderly, women, people with disabilities and marginalized youth. These have been groups that were important to the RLabs focus areas through its training and academy programmes. RLabs will continue with its focus on digital literacy and ensure that access to the Internet is within reach of many.