Some consumers risk being left behind in the new world of AR and IoT unless measures are taken to ensure existing inequalities are not widened, Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa (pictured) has warned.
Speaking at the GSMA Thrive Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, Ndegwa said there was a need to “rewrite the rules” so people in the region are not passed by during the emergence of the new digital world.
“New technologies like 5G will broaden the capabilities offered by the digital revolution, but it also means we have to keep developing innovative solutions so that the arrival of these new capabilities does not widen the digital divide,” he added.
Echoing comments from MTN CEO Ralph Mupita, Ndegwa added parties must ensure equality and sustainability are at the centre of developments, pointing specifically to the risk of widening the digital gender divide.
Among the issues frequently cited is a perceived or actual lack of access to smartphones.
During his presentation Ndegwa highlighted Safaricom’s efforts in this area with the launch of its Neon smartphone in 2018, and device finance plans brought to market earlier this year.
Discussing the rationale behind these initiatives, he added: “The possibility of smartphones are endless, but smartphones are expensive devices.
“It means as we invested in improving our network with the installation of 4G capabilities we faced a new problem” involving how to include customers with 2G feature phones.
Qualifying customers are offered a Neon smartphone for $10 upfront, with the remaining balance paid in instalments capped at $0.20 per day.