Friday, September 21, 2007

Impress Your Professor: Computing in Sub-Saharan Africa

So, I was clicking through the ever so interesting ASIS&T conference presentations and came upon this little number on the emergence of internet cafe usage in Johannesburg, South Africa. The hypothesis: internet cafe's are actually used most regularly by locals (as opposed to backpackers) and are typically their primary means of access to the internet.

It got me wondering about what sort of internet access the library systems throughout Sub- Saharan Africa have and why so many folks are flocking to pay for internet usage at cafe's instead, so I did a little investigating...

Well, in the city of Johannesburg, turns out the library requires an annual membership fee of R30 a year ($4US). With internet cafe rates ranging from R5 ($0.67) to R30 an hour, it should still be far more advantageous to join the library, no? What's the draw for the cafe's? How is the library not able to tap into this network of eager users? Perhaps it's a capacity issue? Money? Both? I don't know.

Then you've got the oh-so-glam city of Cape Town which was awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation Learning Award for their Smart Cape Access program. This program has essentially provided free public internet access at all public libraries throughout the city.

And somewhere in between you've got the city of Bulawayo Public Library out in Zimbabwe which opened up its OWN cyber cafe. They charge for usage like any other internet cafe but at a much cheaper and more competitive rate and use the fees to sustain their internet access.

At the National ASIS&T Annual Meeting coming up October 19-24 in Milwaukee there will be a session on Sub-Saharan social computing and its effects on culture and society. One question they will seek to answer is: In what ways are the new trends in social computing affecting information science education in Sub-Saharan Africa?

1 comment:

IvanK said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.