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The White House has announced a new initiative to expand internet access across Africa.

In an announcement, Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled a new partnership on Friday aimed at doubling internet connectivity on the continent. Currently, about 40 percent of Africa’s population has internet access, and this initiative seeks to increase that figure to 80 percent. The announcement coincided with Kenyan President William Ruto’s state visit to Washington.


The initiative will be driven by the “Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance,” formed by the African Development Bank Group, Mastercard, and other organizations. This alliance plans to provide digital access to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria before expanding further. The White House highlighted that Africa’s “digital transformation” will open new markets for US exports and deepen partnerships between African governments and the US private sector, boosting productivity and competitiveness.


While the alliance has been welcomed, some US tech workers in Kenya have expressed concerns. A group of these workers has wrote a letter to President Biden, urging him to address their demands for better working conditions and greater accountability during his meeting with President Ruto. They argue that the low-paid content moderation and AI work they perform is detrimental to their mental and physical health, likening it to “modern day slavery.”

This comes as Africa has faced significant challenges in securing the investment necessary to develop its technological infrastructure. The continent’s share of global foreign direct investment dropped to just 3.5 percent in 2022, following a record high the previous year. 


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