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AFRIK-IT  April 2000

AFRIK-IT April 2000

Subject:

Re: Telecenters: Best Practices

From:

Jeffrey Cochrane <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Thu, 27 Apr 2000 19:59:49 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (79 lines)

Greetings Afrik-ITes!

We were discussing models for telecenter development,
and I suggested to our colleague in Nigeria:

> > We might say that the development "model" you are
> > following is a commercial one in which access is based on
> > price. The theory goes that if one liberalizes markets
> > and gets the price down, more people will have access.

On 7 Apr 00, at 9:45, Sunday Folayan wrote:

> Either you or the competition will obviously get the price
> down. If you lower price without the matching infrastructure
> for the upsurge in clientelle, you will end up with
> disgruntled (Grumpy) clients.

Sounds reasonable. So under this commercial model that
Mr. Folayan seems to be following:

> > The wealthier will have access first of course, since
> > price always rations by wealth, right? The critique is
> > that this model neglects the poor.
>
> On the contrary Jeff, The "Poor" do not need "Internet
> Access". What they need is "Food".

I suppose all of us need food. But I would suggest that
many people we might characterize as poor need Internet
access as well. Mr. Folayan seems to see the poor as
completely destitute and in need of food more than anything
else. Certainly, not too far north of where I am sitting in
Nairobi, there are the people about whom I suspect Mr.
Folayan is speaking. I agree, they need "grain silos" to use
Mr. Folayan's words.

But I also see the needs of the many church and other
groups that are attempting to raise funds to buy the food
and medicine needed by drought victems, to determine
where shortages are most critical, to identify bottlenecks at
ports where food is being shipped, to fight the institutions
that preclude the movement of food and agricultural inputs.
These groups need Internet access.

I see networks of African scientists working on post-
harvest technologies for the better storage of food in silos,
but who work in isolation because they cannot
communicate effectively with their colleagues in other
countries working on the same things.

I could write a few dozen paragraphs on this subject. The
point is that the Internet is "for" the poor just as much as it is
"for" the wealthy, even if a poor person doesn't touch the
keyboard directly.

On the other hand, I can think of models for telecenters that
do enable the poor to have direct access. I suspect there
are many among the poor community who have more than
enough to eat, and who would welcome the opportunity to
have direct access to the Internet through telecenters.
Perhaps others know of specific cases where this has
proved to be true.

Cheers!
Jeff @ Nairobi



----
Information and Communication Technology Programs
USAID/REDSO/ESA
http://www.info.usaid.gov/redso
Tel +254 (2) 862400 x2762
Email [log in to unmask] (preferred)
Email [log in to unmask]
PO Box 30261
Nairobi
KENYA

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