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Solving Africa's Woes Using The Internet

When economic big-wigs congregate to discuss why much of Africa remains a political and economic basket case, they neglect one big piece of the problem: Much of the continent has no access to the Internet. A recent study found that there is only 1.5% overall Internet penetration on the continent, compared to 50% overall Internet penetration in developed countries.

Given that the continent is beset by war, poor educational systems, corruption, AIDs, and a host of other problems, you may think that providing Internet access should be low down on the list of troubles that need to be solved. But you'd be wrong.

It's a simple fact that communication and the free spreading of information is the underpinning of any solution to virtually any modern problem, whether it be economic, political, or cultural. The cliche that information is power becomes more true the more the world is interconnected.

In the next two weeks, the Group of Eight industrialized nations will meet in Scotland, where as always they'll discuss a variety of worldwide issues, such as global warming, health, and trade. But here's hoping that they get around to hatching a plan to bring widespread Internet access to Africa. It won't solve Africa's problems by itself, but it's the underpinning to any long-term solution.