Bridging an African digital divide

Há vários problemas com o modelo de negócios nas cidades Wi-Fi nos EUa, mas o potencial do Wi-Fi para inclusão em países subdesenvolvidos ou em desenvolvimento é grande. Vejam a matéria da BBC sobre a inclusão na África, Bridging an African digital divide


“Many of us take the internet for granted, but what about locations that are too remote or economically impoverished to enjoy the hi-tech benefits of the developed world?

Using wi-fi in Knysna
Knysna is South Africa’s first fully enabled wi-fi town

The coastal town of Knysna in South Africa was one such place. But now it is the largest wi-fi enabled area on the African continent. Working in conjunction with the town’s local authorities, internet provider UniNet has set up a system of base stations which spread wi-fi around the town. “UniNet was founded on some principles which we derived from the South African government’s green paper on telecommunications,” said the company’s David Jarvis. “Our goal is largely to see our technologies and our services bridging the divide between rural and urban areas.(…) Computers with wi-fi connections can be expensive, and not everybody in the poorer areas of Knysna can afford a wireless enabled device. So the municipal authorities installed computers in places the whole community has access to.”

UniNet The wi-fi network in Knysna covers 90% of the town

A municipal wi-fi solution to internet connectivity could prove useful in the future. Potential users might not own a computer but there are other devices which can take advantage of this town’s wi-fi hot spots. “I think initiatives like the libraries are very important in allowing access in areas where devices don’t exist,” said Mr Jarvis. “Forty percent of the community in Knysna have cell-phone devices and use them for voice. “If they have a device which can be used for voice and for free internet services then it will be a start of a real explosion in breaking down the barriers of the digital divide.”