At my office we have lots of discussions about how we can share our free WASH content on water sanitation and hygiene water with Africa, with mobile phones spreading rapidly out there. I am always saying that most of the subscribers to our paper Source Bulletin newsletters do not have access to internet. Oh sure, I have come across the occasional NGO activist in Ghana and engineer in Nigeria that tell me to go to an Internet cafe each weekend to get our newsletter and download other relevant stuff from our site www.irc.nl. We all believe that mobile phones provide the chance for most Africans to get access to relevant content on the internet.
At the HIVOS/IICD Fill the Gap conference http://www.fill-the-gap.nl/ in Amsterdam last Friday we had some sobering news on this from Estelle Akofio-Sowah from Google in Ghana. The costs for internet access in Africa are coming down, but still costs 135 Euro per month. Google Ghana provides universities with free broadband internet access. They are introducing their android mobile phones at a price of around 38 euro.
Other challenges identified by Estelle included:
- lack of local content
- many local languages.
The free Friday afternoon was my first free time in my effort to reduce my workweeks in my retiring from work year.