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

By JOSH BOAK, Associated Press
Published: May 24, 2024, 8:31am
2 Photos
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an event at Discovery World Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Milwaukee.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an event at Discovery World Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is announcing the formation of a new partnership to help provide internet access to 80% of Africa by 2030, up from roughly 40% now.

Friday’s announcement comes as follow-through on Harris’ visit to the continent last year in conjunction with this week’s visit to Washington by Kenyan President William Ruto. Harris and the Kenyan leader were scheduled to have a fireside chat on Friday at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about how public-private partnerships can increase economic growth.

A preview of Harris’ initiatives obtained by The Associated Press outlines how she wants to follow through on the commitments she made to promote digital innovation when she visited Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia.

Africa has struggled to receive the capital needed to build up 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 $80 billion in 2021. Africa accounted for only 3.5% of foreign direct investment worldwide, even though it makes up roughly 18% of the global population.

Besides launching the nonprofit Partnership for Digital Access in Africa to improve internet access, Harris, a Democrat, is announcing a new initiative geared toward giving 100 million African people and businesses in the agricultural sector access to the digital economy.

The African Development Bank Group along with Mastercard, among other organizations, will help form the Mobilizing Access to the Digital Economy Alliance, or MADE. The alliance will start a pilot program to give digital access to 3 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, before expanding elsewhere.

Harris, the first female U.S. vice president, is also announcing that the Women in the Digital Economy efforts to address the gender divide in technology access have now generated more than $1 billion in public and private commitments, with some U.S. commitments pending congressional approval.

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