In 1995 there were more telephones in Manhattan than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa and a majority of Africans had never made a telephone call. Such statistics illustrate both the problems and the opportunities South Africa faces. We now live in an 'information age' and the capacity to progress and develop adequately depend more and more upon the mastery of information technology. Speaking at the opening of the four-yearly International Telecommunications Union (ITU) conference in Geneva in 1995 President Mandela said:
One gulf will not be easily bridged — that is the division between information — rich and information — poor. Justice and equity demand that we find ways of overcoming it. If more than half the world is denied access to the means of communication, the people of developing countries will not be fully part of the modern world. In the 21st century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a fundamental human right.
Eliminating the distinction between information — rich and information-poor countries is also critical to eliminating economic and other inequalities between North and South, and to improving the quality of life of all humanity. 1
In a world where the gap in communications access and technology is actually widening between rich and poor South Africa, which in technological terms lies halfway between the two, has immense possibilities for rapid technology improvements for itself while also being in a position to become a principal source of such telecommunications advances in the rest of Africa. A country that does not have a proper command of modern telecommunications will find it also lacks access
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Publication information: Book title: The New South Africa. Contributors: Guy Arnold - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: Basingstoke, England. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 98.
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