590 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity.
- 97% of those living in rural areas do not have electricity
- 87% of schools do not have electricity
- 95% of primary schools do not have computers
And yet there is a clear correlation between electrification and completion of primary schooling.
The integration of ICT in schools requires electricity that is regularly and readily available (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2015)
Use of Computers in Education in Malawi (National Survey on Access to and Usage of ICT services in Malawi 2015)
There is also significant difference in the percentage of students completing secondary or tertiary education in Malawi in rural areas (18.8%) compared to those in urban areas (60.9%).
Currently the rapid growth of the ICT sector benefits mainly urban communities. It is more expensive for governments to bring electricity and subsequently ICTs to rural off-grid areas. And so these, already poor communities, face being further marginalised from today’s digital world.
Social Enterprise Opportunity
- The SolarBerry is an income generator for the community – providing cheap, clean energy
- There are more than 6 million mobile phone subscribers in Malawi (penetration is 30.6% in rural areas and 71.8% in urban areas)
- Costs per mobile phone charge
- Other sources of income generation
- Movie nights
- Internet cafe
- Printing services
- Graphic design
- Adult education
There is still so much to do in Malawi to ensure that rural areas have access to digital technology. We need all the support we can get!