The internet: Emergent technologies in two West African countries

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

Educational Technology Research and Development

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Being connected for most Africans means something completely different from most of us in more (technologically) "developed" countries. Compared to those who have virtually unlimited and relatively cheap access to e-mail and the World Wide Web (WWW), most Africans have limited access to e-mail only. Outside of South Africa, which hosts 70 full Internet Service Providers (ISPs); Egypt, which hosts 25; and Morocco, which hosts 15, most African countries have well under 10 ISPs, the average being loser to 1 or 2 (Jensen, 1998). This example demonstrates the diversity of the African continent; one cannot simply typify the African example. One can discuss general themes that are related to the Internet, but to get a truer idea one must look in some detail at specific circumstances. This paper will explore issues regarding the Internet, and especially its role in education, in two West African countries. These countries, Burkina Faso and Ghana, are both developing countries and share a common border, but their technological reality is quite different. The existing differences will highlight some of the issues Africa is dealing with concerning the Internet.

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