An African Rural Internet Network, and its interactions with Academics

Gertjan van Stam, Darelle van Greunen

Abstract


Creating ICT access in the rural areas of Africa is a complex challenge. In these areas, telecommunications infrastructure is provided at a very high cost that may not be justified by the resulting use and effects of the telecommunications network. Affordable access to ICTs in rural areas can be frustrated at the supply as well as the demand end of the service-provision chain. To supply ICTs and related services in rural areas, the main challenge is the high level of capital and operating expenditures incurred by service providers. On the demand side, rural adoption of ICTs in developing countries is curtailed by low availability of complementary public services, such as electricity and education, and by the relative scarcity of locally relevant content. This paper highlight the various aspects of the challenges of setting up a First Mile project in rural Zambia. It takes a rather unique angle in that it introduces the perspectives on the value of academic interventions in a manner that not only addresses some of the complex issues but also accommodates cultural adjustment. The paper introduces the rural internet project in Macha, rural Zambia and demonstrates the impact of such an initiative on setting up not only connectivity in a rural community but also dealing with the challenges that come with this.

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The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441