The committee was sensitive to the differences in the scale of Internet usage and diffusion between the United States, which has thousands of ISPs and tens of millions of users, and African countries such as Senegal and Ghana, which have three and nine ISPs, respectively, and only several thousand users each. The committee attempted not to import Western-based models and assumptions into the discussion of developing countries.

The committee reached five main conclusions from its meetings, interviews, and field research that it believes merit the attention of those interested in the diffusion of information technologies in developing areas and the associated impacts:

  1. There is an expressed need among development agencies, policymakers, Internet service providers and users, and others for some evaluative framework for analyzing Internet impacts.

  2. In the countries studied, many individuals and organizations recognize the benefits of having Internet access and consider it a necessity rather than a luxury, even after only a year or two of use, but obstacles remain to widespread use.

  3. Barriers to more widespread Internet use can include the high costs of access and poor telephone infrastructure.

  4. Patterns for Internet diffusion can be identified and models to describe those patterns proposed. Institutional leadership seems to be a key element in early diffusion.

  5. There is an enormous amount of research yet to be undertaken on this topic.



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