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Youth are driving the online era

Written on Sunday, 10 September 2017 05:56

In 104 countries around the world, more than 80 percent of the youth population is online, according to ITU’s 2017 Facts and Figures report. In developed countries, 94 percent of young people aged 15-24 use the internet compared with 67 percent in developing counties and only 30 percent in least developed countries. Yet, sub-Saharan Africa remains the fastest growing mobile market.

Youth are at the forefront of internet adoption. The proportion of young people aged 15-24 using the internet (71 percent) is significantly higher than the proportion of the total population using the internet (48 percent). Young people represent almost one-fourth of the total number of individuals using the internet worldwide, according to ITU. In less developed countries, 25 percent of individuals using the internet are aged 15-24, compared with 13 percent in developed countries.

The potential of youth hasn’t gone unnoticed in developing regions such as Africa. Alphabet-owned Google aims to train 10 million people in Africa in online skills over the next five years, Alphabet’s Chief Executive, Larry Page, said in July this year, in an effort to make them more employable. A spokesperson said the company aims to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Google’s recent pledge is an extension of an initiative launched in April 2016 to train African youths in digital skills. In March the company said it had reached its initial target of training one million young people. At a Google conference in Nigeria’s capital Lagos, Google chief executive, Sundar Pichai said the company “is committing to prepare another 10 million people for jobs of the future in the next five years.”

There were 420 million mobile subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2016, equivalent to a penetration rate of 43 percent, according to GSMA Intelligence. The region continues to grow more rapidly than any other, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1 percent through 2020, which is around 50 percent higher than the global average. As for broadband connections, sub-Saharan Africa will reach half a billion by 2020, more than double the number at the end of 2016, and will account for nearly two thirds of total connections in the region.

The Middle East’s youthful population is also driving internet adoption. GGC countries have some of the world’s highest mobile broadband penetration rates, according to Cisco, with the UAE leading the Middle East and Africa at 89 percent, ranking number 11 globally. A study conducted by researcher Ahmad bin Ali Al Amoudi revealed that 91.4 percent of Saudi Arabia’s youth population browse the internet on their mobile phones.

Emphasizing the importance of youth in the UAE, telecom provider du announced the launch of its Youth Council in August 2017, as part of the International Youth Day Celebration across the country. The Council is specifically created to empower UAE youth and enhance their contribution towards the nation’s development through ICT and the enormous potential the sector holds. It’s a platform that will enable youth to “unlock their career potential”.  

The move is aligned with the vision of the UAE’s leadership to empower and enhance the role of young Emiratis in the overall development process that is taking place across all sectors in the country. du said its Youth Council will provide an environment that listens to ideas and ensures that these ideas are brought to the organization, reinforce the role of youth, and support their engagement within the company.

“The UAE leadership has always looked to galvanize Emirati youth through initiatives aimed at developing the next generation of UAE leaders by encouraging their personal and professional development,” said Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du). “At du, we continue to focus on unlocking the potential of our future leaders of tomorrow, and we are looking at new ways to innovate and add value for the next generation of Emirati ICT trailblazers.”

This vision is shared by Smart Dubai, an initiative anchored in the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the happiest city on earth. Younus Al Nasser, Assistant Director-General of the initiative and CEO of Dubai Data, says young generations “are our key towards unlocking this transformation, by bringing their smart innovations and utilizing their technologies.”

Through the internet, he says, students have so much more resources at their fingertips to contribute to the development of their nation than their predecessors. Al Nasser said: “We are only an enabler, by providing youth with all the tools needed to connect their cities. But they are the ones who need to decide what they want next.”

Mobile a key platform for youth

Mobile is a key platform for youth. Mobile broadband, for instance, is more affordable than fixed-broadband services in most developing countries, according to ITU. However, prices can often get in the way of expansion, since mobile broadband prices represent more than 5 percent gross national income (GNI) per capita in the least developed countries and are therefore unaffordable for the large majority of the population.

Nevertheless, sub-Saharan Africa will transition to higher levels of mobile engagement in the coming years, according to GSMA Intelligence, underpinned by growing access to mobile data services and smart devices, and particularly because of its youthful population that almost entirely relies on mobile for digital services.

Consequently, mobile has become the preferred platform for creating, distributing and consuming digital content and services, including those that help address various social challenges in the region.

Opportunities in mobile-based innovation are attracting talent and investment to the technology start-up ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA Intelligence says. In fact, some 77 technology start-ups across the region raised just over $366.8 million in funding in 2016, growth of 33 percent compared to the previous year. Mobile operators also play an important role in the movement through collaborative ventures with innovators and tech hubs, providing direct investments.

The region is tempting for technology companies to invest in, with its rapid population growth, and heavy adoption of mobile phones. But countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, which Google plans to target for its mobile developer training, may not offer as much opportunity as the likes of China and India for technology companies.

India has one of the youngest populations in the world, with about 65 percent of its population under the age of 35, according to Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports, Shri Vijay Goel, who expects that this demographic dividend will provide a great opportunity for the country to revolutionize itself and achieve its vision of a cleaner and more skilled nation. Goel organized the National Youth Festival in January this year under the theme of ‘Youth for Digital India’.

Mobile technologies and services generated 5.2 percent of Asia Pacific’s GDP in 2016, a contribution that amounted to around $1.3 trillion of economic value, GSMA Intelligence indicates. Mobile operators are working to help students and teachers in Asia to integrate mobile technologies into the classroom, the research says, enhancing access to greater learning opportunities for youth in urban hubs and remote locations.

In Myanmar, for instance, a country where only 54 percent of secondary school children are enrolled at school, a public-private venture dubbed Connect To Learn aims to improve access to the internet, deliver teacher training and enable students to experience a 21st century education. Some 21,000 students are expected to benefit in the first two years of the program, of which more than half are girls.

There is a strong link between gender parity in the enrollment ratio in tertiary education and gender parity in internet use according to ITU. The only region where a higher percentage of women than men are using the internet is America, where countries also score highly on gender parity in tertiary education.

Published in Featured

Alphabet’s Google recently announced its acquisition of Apigee, a leading provider of API technology and services for enterprises and developers, for approximately $625 million. Google opened up about the agreement following news that the search engine was planning to acquire it for its cloud based software.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with Google purchasing Apigee for $17.50 per share in cash with the total value amounting to $625 million, IT ProPortal reported. The acquisition will be subject to Apigee stockholder and regulatory approval.

“We’re excited about adding Apigee to Google,” said Diane Greene, SVP of Google’s cloud business, adding: “companies are moving beyond the traditional ways of communicating like phone calls and visits and instead are communicating programmatically through APIs.”

“APIs allow the company’s backend services to talk to the mobile and web-based apps used by their customers and partners,” Greene added. “Instead of the doctor phoning a prescription into the pharmacy, they can use an app that talks to the pharmacy through an API. Apigee easily enables this by providing a comprehensive API platform that supports secure, stable, multi-language, dev, test, publish and analytics capabilities.”

Chet Kapoor, Apigee’s CEO, is also optimistic about the acquisition and the possibilities that will arise for the company with Google’s resources at hand. “We’ve entered a new era of cloud computing, where enterprises are increasingly running business-critical applications in the cloud – and across multiple cloud,” he said. “Google is the open cloud provider committed to delivering new software for not only hybrid-cloud environments, but also for the multi-cloud world.”

“With their history of innovation in web and mobile technologies, we believe Google is the partner for companies embarking on digital transformation,” Kapoor added. “We look forward to being able to accelerate our mission to connect the world through APIs as part of the Google team.” 

Published in Finance

The European Commission continues to shine a light upon Alphabet Google and its alleged monopoly abuse. EU regulators brought a third antitrust charge against the online search giant on Thursday, July 14, accusing Google of blocking rivals in the lucrative online search advertising market.

The European Commission has once again highlighted the fact that Google, the world’s most popular internet search engine, favors its own shopping service in search results, resulting in an unfair market for its competitors to operate in. The new charge against Google accuses the company of abusing its dominant position by “artificially preventing third-party websites from displaying search advertisements from its competitors,” says an NBC News report.

“Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. Bu that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate,” said Margrethe Vestager, European Competition Commissioner, at a news conference in Brussels, Belgium.

The accusations relate to Google’s ‘AdSense for Search’ platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as online retailers, telecom operators or news websites, with searches producing results that include search ads.

Vestager, a former Danish economy minister who took over as the EU’s powerful antitrust commissioner in late 2014, has acted as a voice for the EU on the issue, and insists she is simply applying the law and promoting free competition. She has applied aggressiveness to the investigation in an attempt to make more of an impact.

“We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation,” said Vestager.

The EU’s consistent pursuit of Google, along with other major U.S. multinationals over tax issues and data control, has stirred no small amount of controversy in the U.S., with President Barack Obama speaking out last year, accusing Europe of veering toward protectionism.

But the EU hasn’t given up on its mission of fairness in business. Google’s AdWords and Ad Sense programs have reportedly been on the Commission’s radar since 2010, after Google’s rivals raised the issue, complaining about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions on other advertisers. The two programs are the backbone of Google’s business which posted about $75 billion in revenue last year.

The European Commission also claims that Google had abused its dominant position in the search engine market by systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its search pages. The charge for breaching the EU’s antitrust rules could see Google facing fines up to 10 percent of its global turnover for each case.

Google has stood its ground, saying it increased choice for European consumers. “We’ll examine the Commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks,” said a Google spokesperson.

Published in Government