How can we give developing countries the opportunity to thrive?
This is the question millions of us have been asking for centuries and, no doubt, it is a difficult one to answer. I believe there is a possible solution, which using the Internet to give people a more equal chance to thrive in the world. There are several benefits to this.
One advantage is that people in developing countries can use the Internet to educate themselves. With MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), they will be able to complete classes in a productive and efficient way to get a more profitable job. Furthermore, these people will have the opportunity to learn ways to protect themselves from viruses and diseases with the help of the Internet. In a recent study, South Africans were asked the questions, “Antibiotics kill viruses and bacteria, true or false?” They were overall the worst country at correctly answering, with only 28 percent knowing the solution. This clearly shows that many people in the evolving world do not know about medicine and health prevention. The Internet can give them access to newspaper articles, podcasts, educational videos and more in order to learn about their health. Another problem for women is that they do not know their rights and, because they are unaware of the law, it is impossible for them to speak up for themselves. The Internet can give these women information about the rights and laws of their country to take a stand and feel more self-assured when doing it. The most important benefit that the Internet can bring to such developing societies is the expansion of trade and business. Joshua Meltzer, a fellow in Global Economy and Development at Brookings, once said that collaboration networking and the use of new technologies to develop new business “turned the Internet into a platform for commerce and a crucial business input”. If developing countries got the opportunity to collaborate through the Internet, their domestic and international trade would spike, causing an increase in GDP. As a matter of fact, one study done by the Information Technology for Innovation Foundation showed that Internet is positively correlated to increases in exports. It demonstrated that a 10 percent increase in Internet penetration in a foreign country is associated with a 1.7 percent increase in exports and a 1.1 percent increase in imports.
A Network in the Sky
According to Commissioner Meredith Broadbent of the US International Trade Commission, only about 60 percent of Africans in developing countries in Africa currently have Internet access. Google has made an effort to increase this percentage by developing a project called Project Loon.
Project Loon is the idea that we could create a network of high-altitude balloons that float about 20 kilometers up and through this network we can give the Internet to the entire world. – Rich DeVaul, Chief Technical Architect
These balloons, which are about 15 meters in diameter, communicate with specialized Internet antennas on the ground. Each of the balloons talks to its neighboring balloons and then to the ground station, which is connected to the local Internet provider. They will be circling around the bottom half of the world on stratospheric winds. This project will help the developing world tremendously. It will give people recourses that can jumpstart their lives and propel them into a better future. If we invest in such valuable technology that can change someone’s life drastically for the better, we can positively shape the future of our world.