Developing World Access to the Internet. Background of the Information. Rapid expansion of the Internet holds substantial promise for developing nations, which can benefit greatly from the Internet's communication and information delivery capabilities to help meet these needs.
Rapid expansion of the Internet holds substantial promise for developing nations, which can benefit greatly from the Internet's communication and information delivery capabilities to help meet these needs.
Developing countries differ widely in both the extent to which they have introduced computer and networking technology and the extent to which the necessary infrastructure exists for exploiting the technology.
The accelerating transition of information to electronic media is making information resources of the world available to an increasingly global audience through the Internet.
Developing countries have much to gain from that revolution in communication and information access.
In developing countries, information poverty is one of the more significant and insidious obstacles to effective exploitation of information processing and other types of technology.
Lack of adequate information regarding developments in other countries and other environments is often not noticed.
In addition, even though developing countries may not be hurt in an absolute sense by lack of information, they are certainly negatively affected.
The communications and information delivery capability of the Internet serves all sectors of society.
commerce and trade,
science and technology all benefit from Internet access
The correlation between information, communication, and economic growth is well-known, making the usefulness of networks nearly self-evident.
Electronic networking is a powerful, rapid, and inexpensive way to communicate and to exchange information.
When networks are available, previously unanticipated collaboration seems to come into being almost spontaneously ( in other words people start to communicate and create.)
The set of stakeholders in the Internet has grown rapidly. Today the Internet is still used by only a small minority of the world's population, but it is increasingly clear in developed countries that it will grow rapidly to become universal and that the lives of almost all residents will be touched in one way or another by it.
This will also be true of developing regions and countries of the world, but with a lag in time. In the medium to longer run, the stakeholders in the continued evolution and success of the Internet will be almost all of the people in the world.
In the developing nations, lack of infrastructure, electricity and even running water continues to be a challenge.
In addition some of these nations are run by leaders who do not want western influence.
Networking is now crucial to scientific research and development efforts, many of which yield tangible economic benefits.
Commercial economic growth is enhanced by access to information
Access to electronic networks also improves the effectiveness of the development of community comprising representatives of international agencies, nongovernmental organization staff, and others working locally and abroad.
Many developing-country universities are focusing on curricula that might contribute more directly to economic growth, and network connections for administrators, professors, and students will be increasingly important.
The state of the physical communications infrastructure is crucial.
Adequate international and local links may be neither present nor reliable;
equipment may be difficult to obtain, maintain, and repair;
electrical power may not be reliable.
Computers and the related peripherals required for networking may be absent or inadequate.
Transportation and communications links may be weak and retard progress.
The skills required to establish and operate an international network link and a national data network depend on the type and complexity of the connections,.
Knowledge of network administration and network design-including local area and wide area networks-is required.
Knowledge of how to establish network services and serve information over the net, regardless of subject matter, is required.
Aspects of the cultural milieu within a country may be important in determining how those skills are generated and used.
Responsiveness to educational opportunity, the strength of the work ethic, and attitudes and policies toward achievement, employment, production, and productivity all are important in the successful generation and accumulation of knowledge.
Specialized knowledge is often either missing or in short supply.
There is generally substantial competition for the scarce, more talented individuals within both the public and the private sectors
Emigration to better labor markets-(the so-called brain drain)-causes depletion of the resources necessary to exploit technology
For some time it has been a goal of developing countries to band together and help each other in their mutual efforts to develop.
Development experiences in one country can be of use in other countries; the trick is for recipient countries to discover similar projects and relevant information that could be of use to them.
A significant development was initiated by John Woolston, Kate Wild, and Faye Daneliuk at IDRC (International Development Research Centre) http://web.idrc.ca/en/ev-8513-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html
Woolstonhad just come from the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Vienna, Austria, where he was instrumental in setting up the first international information retrieval system for information about atomic energy.
NOTE: The IDRC website is full of information on many of your topics.
The IDRC team conceptualized a system named DEVSIS (Development Information System), which worked in the following way.
Every developing country would capture relevant development information abstracted in a standard bibliographic form on computer tape.
Periodically, all information would be merged at a central location and redistributed to all contributors.
In other words, they cam up with a universal data base each country could contribute to and get information from.
Two enduring products emerged from that effort: MINISIS, a version of UNESCO's ISIS system which still operates at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today and was the first regional DEVSIS node.
This is a huge data base that any agency around the globe can tap into.
The UN system later endorsed this approach in the early 1980s, with its funding of the TCDC (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries) Project.
Of all developing regions, Africa stands out as the least networked of all. Progress has been slow for a number of reasons.
A history of colonialism until recent times,
poor physical and human infrastructures,
patterns of communication tied to colonial powers rather than being intra-African,
large distances, and
absence of a tradition of stable government
all have conspired to retard both development in the region and introduction of the Internet there.
Focus on Africa is appropriate for two reasons: networking there is still underdeveloped compared with much of the rest of the developing world,
the potential benefits of improved networking are great.
Grassroots efforts to organize public networks are spreading across the continent, and restricted-access networks are also growing.
Creation of the African Internet Forum testifies to the interest of the international donor community in helping to improve existing networking conditions in Africa.
The spread of networking in Africa has the potential to improve the quality of life of significant numbers of average Africans.
By connecting individuals and institutions that provide services-for example, health care workers, agriculture extension officials, and educators-they can provide services on the basis of better information both from abroad and from their own countries and regions.
The culture of the Internet reflects its roots in the North American research community. Important elements of that culture include broad freedom of expression and sharing of information.
Countries, governments, and cultures differ on what kinds of material are acceptable for people to be exposed to.
While even in North America there is no absolute right to freedom of expression under any and all circumstances, both the laws and the cultures permit expression of a broad spectrum of content.
Other governments and cultures have different opinions about what is acceptable, and they see the Internet as a conveyance for unacceptable content. In this case, the technology favors free expression, because no controls short of the most draconian can now keep someone anywhere in the world from accessing the Internet.
An extreme case is currently being provided by the government of Myanmar, which has recently imposed severe penalties for not registering fax machines and modems. One must assume that registration of such a device in Myanmar is equivalent to potential or actual real-time government observation of what is transmitted.
Yet with the growth of satellite-based Internet services, it will not be possible for the Myanmar government to ensure that it can control all access to the Net.
Concerns have been raised in some non-Anglophone (non English speaking)countries that the Internet is either implicitly or explicitly a tool to promote the linguistic dominance of English.
It is true that the roots of the Internet in North America, coupled with the initial explosion of content in the same general region, currently make the Internet, and especially the World Wide Web, primarily a medium of expression in English.
Dominance of the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) character set in electronic mail has encouraged the use of languages that use the English alphabet.
The Internet and the Web are likely to promote far more the use of languages other than English.
If the Net is to be useful to most of the world's peoples, then the language of the Net in a country must be the local language, expressed in written form in the local alphabet.
This is recognized both by countries and by companies, which see market expansion possibilities in countries only through localization of text and the ability to represent multiple alphabets.
Google Gmail Calling Goes International in 38 Languages eNews
Internet access is 'a fundamental right' Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.
The survey - of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries - found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.
Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.
International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.
"The right to communicate cannot be ignored," Dr HamadounToure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told BBC News.
"The internet is the most powerful potential source of enlightenment ever created."
He said that governments must "regard the internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water".
"We have entered the knowledge society and everyone must have access to participate." BBC news
The Internet Society and Developing CountriesBy George Sadowsky