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A Knowledge society creates, shares and uses knowledge for the prosperity and wellbeing of its people. The question arises how relevant the Internet really is to rural Africa where many people do not even have access to the most basic social services, such as water, health care and education.
A simple, affordable telephone service may be more important for most rural farmers than connection to a global information superhighway. The Internet requires at least a basic level of computer training in order for people to access it possibly a low priority for people in rural and other marginalized areas.
In addition, although the Internet is becoming more multilingual, English remains the dominant language and translation would be required to make it accessible to millions of people. In some countries, fears are growing that the Internet's Western domination will destroy local cultures and moral values. Local content produced by Africans is needed to make the Internet relevant and viable in Africa.
The Internet is the most participatory medium ever known, and it offers a powerful vehicle for popular participation in the democratic process. Although the technology is still in its infancy in Africa, it is already proving its value in many ways.
A society's ability to develop depends on the ability of its members to have access to information and to express themselves freely. Therefore, access to information technology is no longer a luxury, but a basic human need.
Rural and poor communities, women and other disadvantaged groups face a new form of poverty and exclusion. However, these negative effects should not preclude efforts to develop and encourage the growth of the Internet.
The Internet is certain to continue spreading rapidly whether we like it or not, and it will have benefits for the whole society.