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Africa on the Internet


  The phrase “Africa on the Internet” links together two giant concepts. One, a huge diverse continent (as we have already discovered) the other, a change in the way that we can and will learn that is so profound that it has already begun to shrink the world. Although many people do not yet understand the importance of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the internet, the number of those who do is increasing exponentially. A brief discussion of how and why  the internet is increasingly important should prove useful.


Before the coming of computer networks, information flowed in what could be described as streams......from one location ( a book, a university or other classroom, a professional group or think tank, or groups of individuals) to another site. These books, classes, groups, etc. were usually connected to a much broader flow of information (part of the same science, discipline, cultural or trade group)...but... access to such information typically required trained skills and advance preparation in that field or endeavor. In other words, most  people would not have a clue about finding complex information about, say, engineering or medicine without contacting someone in that field. That person, in turn, would have to have studied a certain curriculum or specialized in research just in order to connect the inquirer’s questions to appropriate answers. A lot of people, therefore, did not know nor were they able to know television broaden our collective information base, but  are not designed to be interactive.


The internet is different. Because in most parts of the world it is as accessible as a phone line; because it offers authorship in the creation of sites (web sites and home pages); and because it encourages visually interesting dynamic representation of  nearly any idea, organization, business or group, millions of people and organizations have quickly embraced the internet as their own. Scholars in every imaginable field have created web sites, businesses of every description, governments and individuals rushed to develop location (sites) on the world wide web. The same is true for individuals as well. A good example of how individuals have sought to change the image of Africa via the Internet is a Youtube video called “The Africa They Don’t Show”. Practically all of these sites and home pages are accessible to anyone in the world with a computer, modem, and a network server.


Imagine, quantum (sub-atomic) physics, plumbing, cookbooks, space exploration, ancient languages, the NFL, NBAWWF, CIA, and AFL-CIO are all instantly, and equally available. Every sport, every college, every conceivable form of entertainment, every national and international issue, policy or passion, can be accessed within minutes. Suddenly, rather than streams, we are submerged in a virtual ocean of information. We don’t  even have to know what quantum physics is in order to read the latest conference papers, course outlines, or even view graphics from that discipline. We can explore French or Chinese sites without long years of  prior knowledge of the language (although language skills are still vital). The point is that barriers to information access are rapidly being washed away. Disability or ability, youth or seniority, gender, even race and culture are not insurmountable obstacles in this new learning environment.


Many of the sites link their work with similar web sites of others. All one has to do is to open (double click the mouse) on a highlighted (or linked) site and you can open up that site as well. This process of clicking from one linked site to another is appropriately called ‘surfing’. It is possible, with the incredible numbers of web sites and pages now available (and more are being added every hour) to ‘surf the net’ for hundreds of hours. In addition, internet users can search for topics using keywords. Thus, you could type “Ethiopian women’s fashions”, for example in the appropriate box and the search engine (Google, Bing, Excite, Infoseek, or others) would retrieve data from thousands of sites containing these keywords...in a matter of seconds. The same is true for African Newspapers. Moreover, these sites would often be listed in rank according to the most reference to the keywords.


Conceptually, therefore, the internet represents a tremendous breakthrough in the accessibility of information and the sharing of knowledge, and the African giant has benefitted from this. The internet harnesses a tremendous amount of information on Africa, on Africa-related issues, and by African individuals, groups, and organizations keen on connecting and being connected to the world via the web.




SOME OUTSTANDING WEB SITES ON AFRICA



The AFRICAMASTERWEB  Although not all of the links work, this site gives people an opportunity to discover resources.

                        http://www.africamasterweb.com/contwebsites.html


The following sites have been ranked near the top for several years:


Africa South of the Sahara Comprehensive Stanford University site is easily one of the best. It has been thoroughly checked out. A tremendous range of resources in 41 subject areas from African Studies to sports, student organizations, travel, weather, and women.

        http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/ssrg/africa/guide.html

Boston University Outreach Center

                        http://www.bu.edu/africa/outreach/

M’Bendi.com http://www.mbendi.com/land/af/p0005.htm

AfroMix –Music from Africa & Carribean

                        http://www.afromix.org/

University of Al Akhawayn in Ifrane in Morroco http://www.alakhawayn.ma/

Net Angola     http://www.netangola.com/

Metissacana Cybercafe and art gallery in Dakar. http://www.metissacana.com/

The AFRICAN UNION

Official site contains the AU Charter, a bio of the Secretary General, maps and basic facts of all African countries, the African Charter on Human & Peoples’ Rights (1981), Rules of Procedure of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1995), a history of the OAU African Economic Community, and more.    

http://www.au.int/en//

The White House

The White House made creative use of the Internet to help schools and individuals all over the world learn more about Africa and U.S. relations. This site leads to  government links, country background information, blog posts, press articles, videos,photos and many special features including an up-to-date  search.

UNITED NATIONS

Enormous amounts of information on Africa can be obtained through the UN including educational resources.

UN Web Site Locator: the newest search tool for locating documents

http://www.unsystem.org

Main UN Page: http://www.un.org/

Economic Commission for Africa:

http://www.uneca.org/

ELECTRONIC EMBASSY

Has street addresses, phone, fax of embassies in Washington D.C. Also links to the web pages of embassies.

http://www.embassy.org/index.html 

NORWEGIAN COUNCIL FOR AFRICA, INDEX ON AFRICA

A Comprehensive Guide to Africa on the Net organized by topic and country.

http://www.afrika.no/

ALL AFRICA.Com

News, links, and stories from all parts of Africa, updated daily.  

http://allafrica.com/

AFRICA INTELLIGENCE

One can access daily political and economic news about Africa and Indian Ocean region in French and in English. http://www.indigo-net.com/africa.html

SOMALINET

A good representative of the African presence on the Internet. Lots of links, chats, news and resources of Somalia and Africa.

http://www.somalinet.com/

NIGERIAWORLD

A representative site from a West African nation of more than 160,000,000 people.

http://nigeriaworld.com/

AFRICA DOT COM

A promising new site for the general audience that includes North Africa.

http://www.africa.com/hom.html