Better telecommunication is the key to improving outcomes for Africa, according to Monica Kerretts-Makau, who has graduated with a doctorate from UNSW.

Dr Kerretts-Makau, 32, who wore a traditional Massai outfit to her graduation ceremony, completed her PhD at UNSW in Africa's telecommunications policy, with a focus on her country of birth, Kenya.

"Telecommunication infrastructure is the key building block of the economy," said Dr Kerretts-Makau. "It is the basis for so many things, from education through to energy.

"Unfortunately, there is really poor telecommunication infrastructure in Africa. Only one percent of Africans have access to the internet," she said.

"That's partly because the international agreements favour the western world and partly because they are used by African governments as a bargaining tool with the people.

"While the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) has meant that more people have access to mobile phone technology, the digital divide has not been breached," she said. "The benefits have filtered through to a small minority."

Dr Kerretts-Makau, who studied and lectured in the School of Social Science and Policy, will return to Africa in the new year, where she hopes to work in negotiating policy between governments and international organizations to improve outcomes for Africa.