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AFRIK-IT  June 1997

AFRIK-IT June 1997

Subject:

AFRICA-DEVELOPMENT: More Than Just Internet Connections Required (fwd)

From:

Max Freund <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Thu, 26 Jun 1997 19:57:01 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (144 lines)

>Date: Wed, 25 Jun 1997 10:10:20 -0300 (GMT+3)
>From: UN DHA IRIN - Great Lakes <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: AFRICA-DEVELOPMENT: More Than Just Internet Connections Required
>(fwd)
>Sender: [log in to unmask]
>X-Comment: The EAIA mailing list is supported by the UN Office at Nairobi
>
>
>---------- Forwarded message ----------
>Date: Tue, 24 Jun 97 19:52 GMT+0200
>From: Inter Press Service <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask],
>    [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask],
>    [log in to unmask]
>Subject: AFRICA-DEVELOPMENT: More Than Just Internet Connections Required
>
>
>
>
>  OMA130
>
> AFRICA-DEVELOPMENT: More Than Just Internet Connections Required
>
>   by Gumisai Mutume
>
>TORONTO, Jun 24 (IPS) -- As the development of the World Wide Web
>roars ahead, only eight African capitals remain locked out of the
>global information highway without any immediate hope of logging
>in.
>
>   The capital cities of Cape Verde, Comoros, Equatorial Guinea,
>Libya, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Western
>Sahara still do not have full Internet connectivity, nor do they
>have any known plans of getting hooked up soon, say experts at the
>Global Knowledge Forum being held here.
>
>   While the fact that Africa will virtually be fully on-line
>represents a major leap ahead for a continent that barely had four
>countries hooked up in 1993, the major concern now haunting
>developers is the lack of local, relevant content produced by
>Africans for themselves.
>
>   Making the Internet relevant to the majority of the 4.7 billion
>people living in developing countries is one of the major
>challenges facing the 2,000 policy-makers from 124 countries, non-
>governmental organisations and financiers who travelled to Toronto
>to attend the June 22-25 Forum.
>
>   ''There is no point in having full Internet access unless there
>is content,'' Mike Jensen, an independent Internet  consultant
>based in Johannesburg, South Africa, told the conference, co-
>hosted by the World Bank and the Canadian government.
>
>   Pinpointing another source of concern, Jensen noted that 70
>percent of Africa's people live in remote, rural areas and
>therefore need innovations such as using satellites for Internet
>services.
>
>   Out of the countries now with full Internet connectivity, only
>Burkina Faso, Mauritius, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and
>Zimbabwe have local dial-up facilities outside of their major
>cities.
>
>   In this regard, Venancio Massingue, director of the Computer
>Centre at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, took a
>swipe at some donor agencies. These, he said, are only interested
>in wiring African capitals, where the country offices of
>international institutions such as the World Bank and
>International Monetary Fund, and expatriate communities are based.
>
>   Even in capitals, huge costs rule out access to the Internet
>for the majority of people and, as a result, the Internet in
>Africa may remain a tool of the elite for a long time.
>
>   ''Without competition, the average cost of a low-volume
>Internet account is about 65 dollars a month, nearly the per
>capita income of Mozambque,'' argues Jensen.
>
>   Second-rate telephone lines are another drawback in many
>African nations.
>
>   Africa has the least developed telephone infrastructure in the
>world and not much progress is being made in improving rural
>connectivity on a continent where 12 percent of the planet's
>population share two percent of its telephone lines.
>
>   ''Access that is affordable. Access in remote rural areas and
>access to women,'' are priority areas, according to Karen Banks of
>GreenNet, a non-governmental Internet service provider based the
>United Kingdom and one of several organisations that have been
>linked to building a communications network in Africa.
>
>   A number of large-scale projects to develop telecommunications
>on the continent remain on the drawing boards, such as AT&T's
>'Africa One' initiative intended to necklace the continent with a
>cyber-optic cable. It is yet to be finalised.
>
>   In the meantime, experts say, people as producers of
>information needs to be the major shift. When African
>intellectuals hook on to the Net, it is to consult information
>about the continent created largely by Western countries, notes
>Massingue.
>
>   Lishan Adam, Connectivity Project Officer at the UN Economic
>Commission of Africa is also worried about the uni-directional
>flow of information. ''Whose content is it?'' Adam wondered. ''Is
>it really going to serve the poor rural communities?''
>
>   Adam added that once communities begin providing information
>relevant to themselves, ''translation will be required to make it
>accessible ...''
>
>   The Internet, serving some 50 million people worldwide, remains
>largely an English-language medium characterised by the
>traditional patterns of information flow -- countries of the North
>flooding those of the South and setting the agenda.
>
>   Some projects have taken off to develop relevant content such
>as an initiative by the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural
>Organisation (UNESCO) to transfer printed material in African
>libraries onto the Net, an InfoDev programme in South Africa to
>produce secondary school material and Health-net, which is trying
>to bring health information to doctors in Africa.
>
>   However, African Internet watchers fear that the sector will
>soon be dominated by commercial interests and this will further
>marginalise the poor majority. What is emerging is that large
>Western service providers such as CompuServe, EUnet and Global One
>are moving onto the continent and are likely to grab a substantial
>share of the market there.(end/ips/gm/kb/97)
>= 06241921 HRE037
>= 06241949 ORP077
>
>
>= 06241935  IPS Africa  OMA130
>
>NNNN
>
>
>
>-> Via the East African Internet Association Mailing List <-
>

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