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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 August 2006, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Do you need a computer?
CD and laptop computer
It's 25 years since the birth of the personal computer and 15 years since the internet came into our lives. How useful has all this technology proved to be in everyday living? Is it a help or a hindrance?

In Africa, demand for computers and the internet outstrips supply.

But according to recent research, one year of internet access can cost more than the average annual income.

Those selling the technology say it's worth the money as it helps in a country's social and economic development. They are ploughing cash into developing the PC and providing access to the internet through wireless technology and mobile phones.

Millions of people in both urban and rural areas get by without access to information and communication technology. Is this slowing their development down?

Can Africa become a major centre of technology? Does it really matter if a person has never switched on a PC or the internet? What role does the PC or the internet play in your life?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments .

Your comments

If you're offline, you're lost.
Sibiya Benedict Tawanda, Zimbabwe

I think not being able to access a computer or the internet is a hindrance to one's development. If you're offline you're lost. The computer can help in small businesses and can be used for research.
Sibiya Benedict Tawanda, Zimbabwe

I am what I am today in South Africa because of Information Technology. I encourage everybody with computer knowledge to keep up with modern technology. Although I know that to some parts of Africa it is still a far-fetched idea for people to know what a computer is let alone to see one.
Aaron Anye, Cameroon/South Africa

Computers in the 21st century are a need. They are no longer a luxury but a must have.
Mercy Asi Ocansey, Ghanaian in Norway

Here in India I am reading news from my country and the world online. I am not writing letters to my family or friends which may cost time and more money. I only use the internet. Also I am accessing information related to my research work done anywhere within a fraction of time. The internet is extremely useful to entrepreneurs, politicians, students, teachers, traders, any person for that matter.
Waktole, Bangalore-India

Two problems exist in Africa. First, the majority of people are poor and can't afford to buy a computer, never mind laptops. Secondly, there is a scarcity of training facilities and skills.
Bumija N. Mbwambo, Arusha, Tanzania.

The first day I logged onto the internet it was like having the planet earth in my hands
Bwalya Joy, Zambia
The first day I logged onto the internet it was like having the planet earth in my hands. I never thought a small thing like a pc can make you go round the world. If I had my own I could learn and help those who have never handled the PC before.
Bwalya Joy, Chililabombwe, Zambia

In the last century, Radio was the most dominant technology in Africa. I'm sure the PC and the internet will be the most dominant technology in Africa this century.
Hussein Wehelie, Minnesota, USA

I think everyone needs a personal computer, and if it's connected to the Internet, then the person has arrived. The Internet provides so much information useful in any field of endeavour. The situation we are faced with in Africa is economic empowerment. So many young people in Nigeria know about the Internet and are computer gurus but can only have access miles away from home in City Cyber Centres. I have to wait until I get to School before I can have steady access to the Internet, which is why I can send this mail! Information is Knowledge, and Knowledge is freedom. When you know where you stand, you always know the way forward economically, and politically. Computer and Internet knowledge are very important to modern existence, and I think the availability of both should be addressed by governments in Africa.
Siena Unukogbon, Warri, Nigeria

PC's are expensive and beyond the reach of most Africans, let alone the monthly cost of internet bills. It is ok to theorise that we can have them, but lets be realistic. It is tough enough to have one decent meal a day. We can live in Africa with this kind of technology. If we happen to have access, good for us. We are the fortunate few.
Marita Banda, Boston, MA

If you are not on line, you do not exist.
Patrick Ayumu in Ghana
I never knew I was living in total obscurity until I discovered the "window to the rest of the world". If you are not online, you do not exist.
Patrick Ayumu, Accra, Ghana

Do people in the West need computers? If they do then Africans need them too.
Abaruri Abariri, Nyamarambe Village, Kenya

Definitely Africa needs computers to accelerate its economic growth. A lot has been said about developing road infrastructure but the mistake we make in our development agenda is that we only pick up the left overs and discarded technology when the rest of the world have moved up. We need trade and trading is done with computers and information technology. Let's use this technology to trade and the money made can take care of the rest of the things we lack.
James Nketia, Ghanaian in UK

Since its introduction, the computer has really been a great help. It makes work easy and accurate, and it's fast and reliable. The Internet has been another way of easy communication in the world. It is easy to retrieve information and also to find out what is going on in other countries. Thanks be to those who have made it all possible.
Kwaku Ofori Addo, Accra Ghana

Africa needs development, that means PCs and cell phones. I run a digital company and we are suffering from simple problems, like band width. Congo could become a major centre of technology because people like the new "toys" but if you live on less than a dollar a day it is difficult to put things together.
Nikola Vadjon, Kinshasa, DRC


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