Google is starting to enter the world of ICTD (Information and Communication Technologies and Development) by funding initiatives to bring internet to small, rural villages in Africa. One such project, implemented by three engineers from University of Michigan, involves installing satellite dishes powered by solar panels to hookup computers in the local community to the rest of the world.
The head of Google’s East Africa office, Joseph Mucheru, notes that “building infrastructure is not necessarily Google’s objective, but if you look at all the areas that Google has gone into, in many cases it has been to fill a gap… The market should see the opportunity.”
Google’s entry into ICTD seems to be an especially appropriate fit for a corporate social responsibility strategy. Google can help rural villages get “online,” and also ensure their place in a new market.
It will be interesting to see if internet adoption in Africa and other developing country follows the same trajectory as mobile phone adoption – e.g. leapfrog over “standard” infrastructure like electricity grids by using solar-powered mobile phone towers.
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