This is how the lack of reliable internet access affects me… and my community

© UNICEF/UN0256832/Tremeau

 My name is Emmanuella Ayivi, I'm 18 years old and I'm a medicine student from the department of Ouémé, in the commune of Sèmè-PODJI, in Benin. I use internet on my cell phone every day after activating mobile data packets, but thousands of young people are excluded in my country from the opportunities that the internet provides.

I use internet to connect to social networks (Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), check my emails, research a couple of topics to better understand my courses, download music, update my knowledge related to my passions (drawing, fashion design...) and search for opportunities (scholarships, internships, competitions). 

But the lack of continuous access to the internet prevents me from accessing the world news in real time.

Furthermore, I have lost many opportunities and this is a factor of stress. For instance, in May 2019, because of the bad connection, I could not finish submitting an online application form for a medical scholarship abroad. If I had a steadier internet access, I would be able to accomplish daily tasks, such as digital payment of water and electricity bills, online financial transactions, entertainment, home delivery and daily purchases.     

Where I live, I can use internet on social media, but it remains difficult to stream movies and watch TV shows. Thus, I just follow my friends' posts and their stories on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. I feel that I miss the other enriching experiences of the internet. If I had a quality Internet connection, I would allow myself to experience online games, access interactive platforms, online learning and stream movies.

A mboile phone screen

Interested in this topic? Read also: The digital divide in Benin 

If I had unlimited, reliable internet access, I would use my time to do research for my courses. Also, I could learn other languages and discover a lot of things that would benefit people, in particular the youth, around me.

The lack of reliable internet access in my community affects young people’s decision to stay or move away, as it gives us the impression of being cut off from the world and makes everyday life complicated, making us feel the need to leave a region, a country, a community.

I think of these thousands of young people who do not have the minimum access to this precious resource of the 21st century that is internet, and I demand the commitment of the world's decision-makers to improve Internet access across developing countries, particularly in Africa. 

Lack of a reliable Internet connection still prevents many people from accessing valuable opportunities and information. It’s our duty to push for affordable Internet access for all. Discover more stories about Technology and Innovation for Youth, by Youth, here