Information technology and the developing world

The power of the internet is recognised by the UN and EU as a viable way to pull developing countries out of poverty, suggesting internet access even be elevated to a basic human right status. However, recent UN statistics reveal the African continent to be one of the most expensive places in which to establish crucial broadband connections, costing nearly 40 times the average monthly income in the poorest areas.

These findings were released ahead of the UN 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit, 19th September. MDGs are a number of UN 2015 targets intended to reduce global poverty and improve living standards.

Efforts by several individuals and aid organisations are actively trying to boost internet accessibility and use in Africa, including newly appointed World Wide Web Foundation board member, Gordon Brown. Mr. Brown publicly announced his support of the Global Campaign for Education‘s High Level Panel on Education for All which works to increase global access to education and the internet.

Africa’s science research landscape is eager to increase domestic drivers and lessen its dependence on foreign aid; the latest budget rounds in Tanzania and Kenya have both made cash pledges to science and innovation and African-run initiatives, such as the African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII), which gathers research data to monitor the continent’s science performance, are undergoing continual developments.

These scientific advancements, however, are not easily achieved without open access to the internet and its content. BioMed Central’s partner charity, Computer Aid International, is working to improve the situation by supplying developing countries with refurbished computer equipment. We are currently working with Computer Aid International to help support the cost of providing Kenyatta University in Kenya with a container of reconditioned computer equipment, where it can make a huge difference.

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