Harris announces plans to give 80% of Africa access to the internet, up from 40% now

WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris announced Friday the formation of a new partnership to bring internet access to 80% of Africa by 2030, up from about 40% now.

The announcement comes as a follow-up to Harris' visit to the continent last year and in conjunction with Kenyan President William Ruto's visit to Washington this week. Harris and the Kenyan leader had a public conversation Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about how public-private partnerships can boost economic growth.

“Many could rightly argue that the future lies on the African continent,” Harris said, noting that the average age in Africa is 19, a sign of the potential for economic growth. “It is not about, and simply, about aid, but about investment and understanding the capacity that is there.”

Africa has struggled to obtain the capital needed to build its industrial and technological sectors. The United Nations reported last year that foreign direct investment in the continent fell to $45 billion in 2022, from a record high of $80 billion in 2021. Africa accounted for just 3.5% of global foreign direct investment, even though it approximately 18% of total foreign direct investment. the world population.

In addition to launching the non-profit Partnership for Digital Access in Africa, Harris announced an initiative aimed at giving 100 million African people and businesses in the agricultural sector access to the digital economy.

The African Development Bank Group, together with Mastercard and others, will help form the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance, or MADE. The alliance will launch a pilot program to provide digital access to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, before expanding to other countries.

Harris, a Democrat and the first female U.S. vice president, also announced that Women in the Digital Economy's efforts to address the gender gap in technology access have now generated more than $1 billion in public and private commitments, with some federal commitments pending congressional approval. .

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Follow the AP's coverage of Vice President Kamala Harris at https://apnews.com/hub/kamala-harris.

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