LIVE FROM MWC KIGALI 2023: Derrick Ashong (pictured), CEO of media company Take Back the Mic (TBTM), urged for more solutions to combat the connectivity divide, as he argued there was a lack of investment in ICT infrastructure in Africa.

In his keynote, Ashong said the issue was limiting underrepresented communities from adequately communicating their culture to the world. 

“Imagine a world where African youths have the bandwidth to consume and create their own content,” said Ashong, pointing out that “the money has not been there to take our industry to where it should be because our [mobile] customer base is missing”. 

“Yes, we have 1.4 billion people, but how many of them are actually connected to 4G services that enable them to consume and upload content so the world can hear the African perspective?” the CEO said.

“We are sitting here and talking about how to get more 4G users, but we need to find a way to reduce the barrier to entry.” 

To help mitigate this, Ashong noted his company TBTM piloted an in-app digital currency, dubbed Kola, which functions as a token reward for consuming content and can be exchanged for other services, including data allowances. 

“We go from content viewing to e-commerce transactions; there’s deeper data, and now the communities have better access and get connected. This enables all the social good we want to engage in to come to fruition.”

The entrepreneur also said the initiative can help 70 per cent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa reach high-speed mobile data usage by 2030.  

Ashong said TBTM is currently working with MTN Nigeria to expand the service.