Bits & Pieces from the Internet Archive
Websites come and go, but with the help of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and some link sleuthing, their messages can guide us forward.
IFLANET (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions): “African Telecommunication Infrastructures for Information Access,” Muriuki Mureithi, UDT Occasional Paper #7, July 1997.
- “GSM networks will extend the Internet into the bush as network coverage expands. Once again, market forces are driving the price down, enhancing quality and encouraging the spread of services throughout the country.” 14 years later this process is still in full swing for much of Africa. In other places, 3G is overtaking GSM.
- The great preceding visual shows how far along each African nation’s telecommunications industry is in terms of privatization. Seychelles, Mauritius, Lesotho, and South Africa are the most reformed. In the upper right, Somalia, Swaziland, Burundi, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Comoros, and Djibouti were not experiencing reform. Today, Internet access in nations in the upper right lags those of more progressive nations. Kenya has come far.
USA Today: “In Mauritius, the silicon hills of Africa,” USA Today, October 28, 2002.
- “The government is seeking to benefit from an undersea, fiber-optic cable that runs by this tropical island on its way from Europe to southern India’s high-tech corridor. By simply hooking into it, Mauritius increased its bandwidth 40,000%.” Impressive growth stats, typical of the era. Much of Mauritius’s connectivity success stems from its location near India.
- “Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth says the government plans to provide Internet connections to every home, just as it does water, electricity and telephone service. He aims to have a computer in every home by 2009…” This lofty goal did not materialize, but the nation boasts perhaps the highest percentage of Internet users of any African nation.
AFTIDEV: “Internet, the frog and the rusty tractor,” Anne-Cécile Robert, Maniere de Voir no. 51.
- “In reality, the increase observed in the number of connections is more a reflection of the progress of telecommunication in South Africa (90% of Internet growth on the continent).” Good point about how SA skews data.
- “…what does the Internet represent, in comparison to lack of potable water?” Questions the allocation of resources a la the chicken versus the egg scenario. Will investing in basic needs fuel technology development, or is it the other way around?
- “…how will the expansion of the Internet be conceived on a continent where 77% of the population is illiterate?” Questions the ability of African nations to provide local content – something that is very much an issue today.
AFTIDEV: “Internet in French Speaking Africa: Disparity between countries in the conditions of use and importance of public access points,” Gilles Mersadier, Grain de Sel no. 15, July 2000.
- “We have identified three main indicators explaining the major disparities from one country to another: The performance of “national access point” to the Internet…connection costs…the characteristics of the telephone network.” Bandwidth, access cost, and quality of infrastructure remain major obstacles and are often seen by the consumers as the barriers to widespread Internet adoption.
- “Apart from South Africa, there are currently only 15,000 computers connected to the Internet on the continent.” Wow.