Dawn, 20 Nov 2005

Can technology ease Africa's woes?

By Rebecca Harrison

DIPICHI (South Africa): It is hard to believe that 19 shiny flat
screen computers can cure the ills of this tiny community in South
Africa's arid north where people battle every day against poverty,
Aids, illiteracy and hunger.

Yet US computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co. and South African President
Thabo Mbeki are promoting Dipichi's smart new IT lab as a blueprint
for how technology can trigger growth and tackle poverty across the
world's poorest continent.

Bridging the so-called digital divide in Africa became a popular
mantra among aid workers and government officials during the tech boom
that started in the late 1990s but it fell from favour as countless
ill-conceived rural IT centres went unused.

Sceptics asked what use a computer was when people were hungry, dying
of Aids and too poor to send their kids to school?


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