How Will the Internet Affect the Lives of its Next Billion Users?


Paul Abbott, June 3, 2015

This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

Innovative US-based digital media company Quartz recently hosted an event at One Marylebone in London designed to explore what lies in store as the next billion internet users come online. 

Along with Editorial Intelligence, Tech City UK was a strategic partner for the event which gathered world experts to discuss how the internet could impact developing nations in years to come.

We found the event perfectly demonstrated how the digital spectrum is addressing a whole range of issues facing nations across the globe.


Amongst the speakers was Nathan Eagle, Founder & CEO of Jana, which “enables free apps to be truly free for those in emerging markets”. Nathan spoke eloquently on the possibility of making the internet free for the next billion. With the increasing rise in demand for data predicted in the coming years and the price of services ever-increasing, Jana’s solution is to offer a free platform which is paid for by advertisers.

At an event focused on the disruptive services and platforms which could act as enablers for the next billion internet users, who better to hear from than Jambu Palaniappan, General Manager for disrupters of the moment Uber, across the Middle East and Africa. Uber is facilitating over 1 million journeys per day and Jambu spoke on the firms role in building efficiency: “imagine Cairo with half as many cars because people have chosen to share”.

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Key to the way emerging markets interact with the web is consumer intelligence. Head of Trends at GlobalWebIndex, Jason Mander, highlighted that 40% of mobile internet users in Brazil and Vietnam share their mobiles with others and that there are nine times as many IP addresses in the US as internet users.

One of the highlights of the day was hearing from Lawrence Lessig, Professor at Harvard Law School, on corruption in emerging economies. Professor Lessig pointed to the example of how the “generation’s winners” effectively block the next generation of winners, asserting the need to defend young capitalists from old ones!

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Last to speak was Bruce Daisley, VP of Twitter for Europe. Bruce provided examples of the ways in which Twitter is impacting opinion and conversation around the world and how the conversation differs from that of the established media. He noted that Twitter dialogue during the Ferguson riots differed drastically from what was being repored  in the media. He argued that social platforms in general are becoming the primary source for unedited, real-time information.

Building on the success of their London and India events, Quartz are now planning their next adventure; the launch of The Next Billion in Africa. You can find out more on their website.