G8 leaders should commit to helping Africa provide low-cost, high-speed Internet access when they meet in July, writes Calestous Juma in the Daily Yomiuri Online.
African universities have the Internet capacity of a family home in Japan, which is the equivalent of "30,000 people trying to use a single household connection".
As a result, the continent's higher education and research institutes are failing to benefit from the scientific and technological knowledge available to the rest of the world. Africa is "digitally isolated" and this is preventing effective partnerships with institutions in other countries.
As well as providing staff and students with the latest knowledge, high-speed Internet access would reduce the costly burden of having to provide and continually update textbooks and other paper-based materials — which puts a strain on the African universities' already limited budgets.
Juma writes, "Providing low-cost, high-speed Internet access to African universities will help Africa build the capacity it needs to solve its own problems. It is one of the most strategic investments that the G8 countries can make in Africa in the coming few years."