From Bill Gates, the good news is the future of the internet looks bright.
And the bad news? None, at least nothing to merit mention in his annual letter about the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In fact, the next 15 years will be even better for medicine, agriculture and other sectors that could slash poverty and boost the middle class in regions like Africa, said the world’s richest man.
Since 2000, the foundation has funded projects around the world to combat poverty and encourage education using the personal funds of the billionaire couple, according to US News and World Report.
Trends that will raise people out of poverty during the coming years include improvements in local farming to combat famine, software that will boost education and mobile banking that will generate consumer savings and stimulate everyday charity efforts, he said.
“It’s great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super hi-resolution screens,” according to the letter. “It’s even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren’t going to die.”
Mobile banking could be a significant driver to boost prosperity since 2.5 billion adults don’t currently have a bank account because of the costs of working with a bank, the letter states.
Companies like Apple, Square and Amazon are developing services to enable people to make purchases through their mobile phones, so that trend is poised to boom during the next 15 years.
Improvements in software will also make it easier for students to attend classes online, making education more affordable and accessible, along with making it easier for teachers to plan lessons.
Developing nations must also remove cultural and economic barriers that discourage women from using the Internet, the Gates’ letter explains.
“To make the most of these innovations, we need to close the gender gap,” the letter says. “In Africa, women are 24 percent less likely than men to own a cell phone; in South Asia, it’s 37 percent.”
Internet access is becoming more available in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa because of the boom in mobile phone technology, but only 19 percent of people on that continent are using the Web, according to the International Telecommunications Union, which is a United Nations agency.
Greater access to and advances in medicine and farming will also eliminate diseases like polio, elephantiasis, river blindness, and blinding trachoma by 2030, the letter predicts.
Malaria will remain a threat, but Gates predicts research to eradicate it will improve. Technology, like the methods used to track Ebola, is also making it easier to plot out the presence of a virus in a region.
“The drugs that can stop these scourges are now being donated in huge numbers by pharmaceutical companies, and they’re being used more strategically thanks to advances in digital maps that show where diseases are most prevalent,” the Gateses say in the letter.
“Last year these free medicines were distributed to 800 million people.”
Food production will be a crucial challenge for the future well-being of the developing world, as the earth may be home to 9.6 billion people by 2050.
Total agricultural production will need to increase by at least 60 percent to match population and appetite trends, according to a 2012 projection by the Food and Agriculture Organization, so meat production is expected to double as developing countries demand more protein.
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