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Pentiums and Penicillin
Alex Steffen, 22 Dec 03

The BBC has been running a series of articles on how the spread of technology is helping redefine development in the poorer parts of the world. It's good stuff - an article on how a new open source software package is bringing free and complete hospital information systems to developing world medical systems, another on an Indian cell phone company that's working with impoverished rickshaw drivers to create a sort of mobile phone booth, a third on how community telephone shops is leapfrogging folks in South African townships, a fourth on the growth of culturally and linguistically local digital content, and this wrap-up of the World Summit on the Information Society:

"The choice should not be between Pentiums or penicillin," said the Rwandan Minister for Energy and Telecommunications, Sam Nkusi.

"We want to reap the benefits of the internet and join the rest of the world. That is when we can truly be an information society, otherwise the digital divide will widen," he told the BBC.

"We could probably do more, yes," admitted the Swedish Minister for Development and Cooperation, Carin Jamtin.

"But how much and to what extent, I can't say," she added, neatly summarising one of the key issues left unresolved at the summit.

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