Scientific American editor Mark Fischetti describes an effort to bring free Internet access to African communities
Only 20 percent of the world’s people use the Web, even though 80 percent live in places where some kind of Internet signal or connection exists. Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web 20 years ago this month, says inspiring initiatives by individuals and institutions could change that ratio.
For example, Berners-Lee was part of a recent meeting called by Rwanda President Paul Kagame, former British Prime Minster Gordon Brown and Paul English, a Boston-based software entrepreneur. English made a case that very-low-bandwidth Internet—enough for “text only” Web pages—could be provided free across Africa. A second tier of paid access to higher speed service, provided by African entrepreneurs, would support the free service. Most citizens would access the Web wirelessly, using mobile phones or laptops. Everyone at the meeting pledged to support the idea, and a project has already begun.