New Ideas About Online Community.. From Africa

Katrin Macmillan | Huffington Post | August 25, 2014

President Obama's pledge to mobilize more than $30 billion of investment for Africa reflects the consensus of a continent on the move. Certainly, the rapid spread of mobile technologies has piqued the interest of telecom and internet companies. Nonetheless, many proposals seem to suggest failed models from the past; models which sought to monetize internet access around portals.

Reinventing AOL for Africa would, of course, be contrary to a spirit of open access that would the web a catalyst for broad economic growth. Furthermore, there is a wealth of online learning material which, if freely available, could be used by children and adults to develop skills and acquire knowledge. An open internet represents a simple way that communities can begin to overcome some of the disadvantages of isolation, fragility and limited resources. The benefits are both individual and societal, not only allowing access to information in every sphere of life, but enabling communities to connect with each other and the rest of the world.

After living in and working with communities in Africa for many years, I heard the same thing again and again. Parents want their children to have access to education and a better future. Meeting this goal requires new and better forms of participation.  Open source information networks offer much promise...