Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The following article from the February 21, 2007 edition of South Africa’s The Daily Star focuses on India, but it points to a direction that IT development is taking and that should have an impact on Africa in the future as well. With the cost of computers coming down, they are still very much out of reach for the average African, particularly in the rural areas. With mobile phones becoming more and more able to access the world-wide-web, this may be an inexpensive alternative to the desk top or laptop computer.

Mobile phones to fuel internet growth: Google
Afp, San Francisco

Google vice president and chief internet evangelist Vinton G. Cerf predicted Tuesday that mobile phones, not personal computers, will fuel growth of the worldwide web as countries like India snap up millions of handsets monthly.
From 50 million in 1997, the number of people who have logged onto the Internet has exploded to nearly 1.1 billion, Cerf, who is considered one of the founding fathers of the internet, said.

Yet, the internet only reaches a sixth of the world's population, Cerf told reporters during a visit to this southern city, known as India's Silicon Valley, where Google has a research and development facility.

"You will get those other 5.5 billion people only when affordability increases and the cost of communication goes down," said Cerf, 63, who joined Google in 2005. "The mobile phone has become an important factor in the internet revolution."

The silver-bearded scientist, dressed in a three-piece suit for a presentation on the internet, is hearing-impared and had to read the lips of reporters who asked him questions.

Cerf, a winner of the Alexander Graham Bell award, said one of the reasons he started working on the internet project was to give the hearing impared an instant tool to communicate.

Worldwide there are 2.5 billion mobile-phone users, whose numbers are growing rapidly in developing countries led by China and India, the world's most populous countries, Cerf said in his presentation.

India, a country of 1.1 billion people, alone is adding seven million mobile-phone users a month, a powerful enough lure for British telecom giant Vodafone to pay 11.1 billion dollars for a controlling stake in local mobile firm Hutch-Essar this month.

Handset manufacturers and mobile-phone companies are offering an array of internet-enabled features and services including payment and navigation systems while dropping charges under the pressure of growing competition that will bring many of the new subscribers to the internet, Cerf said.

The Daily Star

The Article may be found here.

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