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Let internet be as free as oxygen

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This year’s United Nations general assembly has been so far a very spectacular event, not because our president took with him either 20 or 120 people. That has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with computer technology but the speech that Mark Zuckerberg made.

Zuckerberg, the managing founder of Facebook teamed up with Bill Gates to lobby for free internet at the UN gathering. Mark put it so beautifully by saying that internet should be regarded as a human right just as necessary as oxygen.

I do hope that our African presidents were able to decipher the message packaged in that sentence. What the youthful techie wonder-boy was trying to say is that internet is no longer a luxury and those that use it should not be subjected to punitive tax measures.

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We exist in an information time space that is ‘propelled’ by the internet. The problem is that African governments are enticed by the numbers that are associated with internet use and regard it as a wonderful extension of the tax base.

Mark Zuckerberg’s message is plain, governments must start to think of ways to provide free internet to its citizens just as it does with medicare.

I am very pleased that Zuckerberg successfully solicited the support of a techie mogul like Bill Gates for this cause. Bill currently runs the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which is into huge philanthropy work in Africa. Bill is well connected to other world’s billionaires like Warren Buffet.

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Bill gates can use his influence to solicit funds for free internet in Africa. Lack of information in Africa can be as pandemic as malaria.

Mark Zuckerberg is not new to the idea of free internet. His company, Facebook, has been offering this even here in Malawi through mobile companies like AirTel and TNM. Mark has been able to walk his talk and he is not doing this to gain any political mileage.

I am not sure about the availability of internet services during the times that the holy scriptures were scribed, but one thing is for sure, a vision of it did exist. Is it not in the very bible where God complained that his people were perishing because of lack of knowledge?

The internet enables Blantyre Water board to send bills using SMS. You can pay for same using National Bank’s Mo626 ice with your mobile phone. You do not have to go to Multichoice offices to pay for your disconnected GOTV service. You simply use NBS’s EasyMobile to buy TNM’s Mphamba money that you can use to reactivate the GOTV service.

Development today flows in the veins of the internet. India has befitted a lot from fast and accessible internet. If you log on to Microsoft’s help desk, you may be thinking that you are being assisted by somebody at the company’s Redmond headquarters. The fact of the matter is that such services are usually subcontracted to somebody in India.

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