Making the Next Billion Demand Access

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The Local-Content Effect of google.co.za in Setswana

I presented this paper at EEA 2016 in Geneva

Abstract

This paper shows that an exogenous increase in accessibility of local language content leads to an increase in demand for internet connectivity among native speakers. Internet connectivity provides enormous improvements in quality of life as well as opportunities for the newly connected, yet recent attempts to connect the current ‘next billion’ in places such as sub-Saharan Africa have not met expectations. In places where infrastructure has come online and prices have gone down, the expected consequent increase in usage was not observed. The introduction of the Setswana language in the South-African Google Search website was a spillover of the Botswana Google search website being translated from English to Setswana. This exogenous improvement in the accessibility of Setswana-language content has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of native Setswana speakers coming online and owning personal computers. It has also led to increased usage of the Setswana language online, creating a positive-feedback loop. This suggests that connecting the fourth billion will require a greater focus on the demand-side of connectivity, specifically by means of local content.

Full Paper

The full paper is available here.

Code

The full git repository is available at:

https://github.com/bquast/Making-Next-Billion-Demand-Access/

and can be cloned using:

git clone https://github.com/bquast/Making-Next-Billion-Demand-Access.git