The article below found its way into my mailbox via a somewhat
circuitous route. I hope AFP won't mind my submitting it here for
comments. I'd be curious to hear what folks in Ghana and Kenya think
of the mentioned projects.
Jeff @ Washington
HEADLINE: New communications technology project helps save lives in
PARIS, Nov 4 (AFP) - New communications technology is saving lives
** in Africa thanks to a World Bank-backed project bringing the
latest technology to the world's poorest countries, officials said
A doctor in Zambia was able to treat a patient suffering from
** malaria thanks to his electronic mail computer link, World Bank
telecommunications director James Bond told a press conference.
The doctor sent a message detailing the man's symptoms to a
colleague in London, who suggested he contact an expert at the
National Institute for Health in Bethesda, Washington.
The U.S. expert recognised the symptoms as belonging to a form of
malaria not normally seen in Zambia, and was able to tell the
doctor how to treat it, Bond said after a meeting of donors to the
InfoDev provides money and finds projects to bring the latest
telecommunications technology to the most far-flung corners of **
developing countries, enabling them to "leapfrog" to the forefront
of the information age.
Other projects funded by InfoDev include enabling coffee and cocoa
growers in Ivory Coast to dial up commodity prices directly in
London, and another alowing small rural businesses in Cameroon to
sell their products direct via computer link to overseas clients.
Projects in the pipeline include a cellular telephone system for
areas of Kenya which has no telephones at all.
Such initiatives provide relatively low-cost solutions to the most
** disadvantaged areas, World Bank officials said.
The cost of a phone call on the Kenyan system may be relatively
expensive at around three dollars a minute, but at least there
** will be a system available, said World Bank principal economist
for telecommunications Carlos Primo Baga.
At the moment even companies who could afford to use a phone
system simply do not have access to one in rural areas.
And the price should be put in the context of the fact that for
millions of people in Africa their nearest access to information
involves a walk of hours, if not days, to the nearest town.
Africa is one of the worst-served regions in the world for
telecommunications, with one telephone for every 100 people, and if
South Africa is excluded the number is one phone for 500 people,
"There are as many telephones on Manhattan Island (in New York) as
in the whole of Africa," he added.
The InfoDev initiative is important because it puts funds into
relatively low-cost solutions which take advantage of new
In the case of the Kenyan project, for instance, setting up a
cellular phone system will be cheaper than laying phone lines into
Another project in the pipeline is a 600,000 dollar plan for a
computerised mobile bank system in Ghana, for which InfoDev would
provide 50,000 dollars.
InfoDev groups donor governments, nongovernmental organisations and
private enterprise to provide grants for generally low-cost
projects to give the world's poorest countries tailor-made new
The programme is driven from the bottom up, so that te
beneficiaries have a chance to explain their needs and have the
technology built to fit them.
*** END OF STORY ***
[log in to unmask]
1111 North 19th Street Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22209 USA
Tel 1-703-235-5415 Fax 1-703-235-3805