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AFRIK-IT  September 1997

AFRIK-IT September 1997

Subject:

Value of Participation

From:

Jeff Cochrane <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 11 Sep 1997 18:02:00 -5

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

Greetings Afrik-ITers!

At the risk of multiple cross postings, here's something that made it
to my private box.  His posting was to another list, but in reaction
to my posting here.

A comment: I'm particularly grateful for Ahmed's comment about the
role of email systems.  Even where TCP/IP systems are the rule, we
emphasize mail over browsing in almost every situation where time is
metered, bandwidth is precious, or telephone lines are limited.
And frankly it's hard for me to recall someplace where I've worked
recently where one or more of those conditions does not apply.

The general exception is for libraries and resource centers.  It may
not be efficient to have a browser on every desktop, but it's nice to
be able to access a browser nearby for occasional or intensive use.

Cheers!
Jeff @ Addis Ababa

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Wed, 10 Sep 1997 10:20:42 -0400 (EDT)
From:          Khursheed Ahmed <[log in to unmask]>
To:            [log in to unmask]
Cc:            Jeff Cochrane <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:       Re: AFRO-NETS> Value of the Internet


Value of the Internet
---------------------

In reference to the message posted by Jeff Cochrane <[log in to unmask]>
today, I would like to add...

At McMaster University, We have worked on information communications
projects with a number of countries in Africa (namely Kenya, Uganda,
Sudan and Nigeria) and we know that it made a big difference to our
African colleagues to have access to a reliable e-mail service.

Back in 1991, when we started some of this work, the cost of a phone
call from Uganda to Canada was US$10/minute.  Thus, a FAX message
would cost $10-$15 per page - this was an enormous sum compared to
local salaries and budgets.  At Gezira University, Sudan, it was not
even possible to send a FAX message and they were still using Telex
(until 1995).  Having e-mail literally brought them into the
international community.

Of course, there were many technical challenges and substantial
initial investment (covered by research grants), however, the systems
are now self-sustaining and a typical e-mail message costs 20-30
cents! What's more encouraging is that there are considerable
technical skills and talent available locally that enables them to
maintain the systems with a little bit of help from outside.

Students from African countries are talking to each other and with
students around the world to exchange news, planning events and
electives - this would have been unthinkable.  The Vice-Chancellor of
Gezira University in Sudan told me that they were unable to
participate in international conferences because they often received
announcements AFTER the conference and could never to apply for travel
funds in time.  This has all changed now and they have been able to
send their faculty and students to international events, all directly
resulting from the availability of basic e-mail service.

I would like to emphasize that, while full Internet would be
wonderful, the cost of leased lines can be prohibitive in some African
countries.  The old-fashioned polling service, using store-and-forward
method can do wonders and is very cost-effective for the basic e-mail
service.

The efforts of Healthnet and GreenNet are commendable in opening
e-mail access to Africa.

> Khursh Ahmed PhD                   Internet: [log in to unmask]
> Centre for International Health
> Faculty of Health Sciences,
> McMaster University, HSC-2D9       Voice:    (905) 525-9140  x22443
> Hamilton ON, L8N 3Z5, Canada       Fax:      (905) 525-0291


--
[log in to unmask]
http://www.info.usaid.gov/alnk
1111 North 19th Street Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Tel 1-703-235-5415  Fax 1-703-235-3805

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