The International Telecommunication Union has just convened the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), focused on eliminating the digital divide. During the last ten years, studies and pilot projects have demonstrated that the Internet can improve the quality of life for the roughly 3 billion people living in rural areas of developing nations. Conferences like WSIS are great, but, after ten years of conferences, workshops and projects, it is time for action.
Rahul Tongia of Carnegie Mellon University has proposed FiberAfrica, a project that would bring Internet connectivity to within walking or bicycling distance of 400 million rural Africans. In July, at a meeting reminiscent of WSIS, the G8 pledged $25 billion in new African aid -- Tongia's proposal would be a good way to spend some of it.
For more on connecting rural villages in developing nations, see GRNet .