UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Markus Schlegel FOSTERING BRAIN DRAIN Data-communications in the Developing World with special regard to the situation on the African continent I. Points of Departure An extraordinary amount of attention has been focused on the relevance of data-communication in policy making and science since the U.S.-administration under President Clinton has made the construction of the so-called "Data Superhigway" one of its primary aims (1) for the remaining years of our century. At the very moment wherein developed countries - it will most likely not for long remain science-fiction to receive and display remote-sensing pictures from observation satellites in real time on almost any well equipped personal computer (2), the danger is ever growing in the developing world to get completely out of pace - with potentially damaging consequences. In UNESCO's recently published 1993 World Science Report, Abdus Salam, founder of the Trieste Centre for Theoretical Physics, describes reasons and consequences of a scientist's isolation from the ongoing discussions of an international community within his community: "Coming back to my native Pakistan in 1951 after taking my PhD in theoretcal physics at Cambridge and after a research period at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, I began to teach at the Lahore Government College. In this position, I found myself despe- rately isolated. As the only theoretical physicist in the country, I had no one in my vicinity to talk to, to discuss or share ideas with. The academic climate was not stimulating at all. After three years, I realized that staying any longer would not make sense; (...). I reluctantly decided to return to Cambridge (...)." (3) Statistics well show that this is not a singular case, and such migration - processes are commencing in most cases, even beginning at the student-age. (4) Once there are technical impediments for the free exchange of information and ideas, geography becomes so predominant a factor that - in the present sitiuation - emigration seems to be the only possible consequence for the individual, resulting in the well known phenomenon of brain drain on the collective level. (5) II. Traditional Solutions With the recognition of the problem, some more traditional answers in terms of technology have been found in different fields. The creation of international study- and research centres, the inauguration of the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS)in 1985 (6), the support of scientits from the developing world through the awarding of grants (7), regional cooperations and research fellowships (8), the envisioned creation of Centres of Excellence. The aims of these projects are multiple: - improvement of the exchange of information along the traditional lanes by the provision "of books and journals donated by individuals and institutions from the industrialized world to scientific libraries in the Third World", (9) - the creation of more equitable working conditions for scientific work in developing countries, - bridging the gap that specialization in the respective disciplines inevitably entails in geographical terms, (10) - self-empowerment of the scientific community in Third World nations, reducing the mostly heavy dependence on aid from developed countries, (11) - capacity-emphasizing cooperation, as opposed to result-emphasizing cooperation schemes. (12) III. Missing Links It could be argued that many of these traditional measures might not successfully accomplish their aim: as grants do not in themselves warrant better contacts within a discipline on a worldwide scale, better equipped libraries might facilitate it to follow discussions (far from being able to intervene), international academic institutions - such as academies - important as they are, might just prove another leeway in that they do not foster democratic access to learning and research or the establishment of a broad scientific infrastructure that earns its name. In his essay in the UNESCO World Science Report 1993, Thomas Odhiambo cites Bhagavan: "To become eventually self-sustaining, the capacity building process must be rooted firmly in the developing country institutions themsel- ves, with adequate resources put at their disposal, and with the assurance that their links to scientifically advanced institutions abroad will be longstanding and durable to ensure the consolidation and the continuity of the learning process." (13) Consequently, the goal that has to be attained is to make learning, teaching and encountering geographically remote fellow-students, teachers, and reasearchers of a discipline a stimulating experience, keeping as much of the expertise where it is most needed for sustainable development: at the disposal of developing countries within their boundaries. In other words: information, ideas and data should move, scientists should not, if movement means emigrating for good. Computer- mediated communication could provide a missing link needed to bring together 'virtual' scientific communities', based on fields of activity and interest, rather than on the mere coincidence of vicinity: 'At the research level, interaction and communication with peers and potential users of research results are necessary for the stimulation, self- confidence, relevance and effectiveness of a scientist. Modern scientific research relies heavily on the ability to communicate; gather reliable data; have access to widely dispersed data and information (including analysis); collaborate on projects; hold discussions, meetings, seminars, and conferences; and repackage and disseminate the results. The pace and complexity of modern research have greatly increased the communication needs of researchers, scientists, educators and their institutions. A scientist isolated is a scientist unable to articulate his purpose and needs; such a scientist soon becomes obsolescent. The provision of appropriate information systems and services for this group of information generators therefore becomes apparent.' (14) IV. Organizations and the Advent of the Information Age in Development 1. UNCED The need to explore the new opportunities that computer mediated communications hold to gather the "best of both worlds" by creating a stimulating scientific environment, without fostering brain drain, the importance of timely information for development and decision making has been increasingly recognized on a growing number of occasions: UNCED's 1992 Agenda 21, (15) passed at the Rio de Janeiro Earth summit, in chapter 40 speaks of the ipmportnce of information for decision making, stating that: "In sustainable development, everyone is a user and provider of information considered in the broad sense. That includes data, information, appropriately packaged experience and knowledge. The need for information arises at all levels, from that of senior decision makers at the national and international levels to the grass-roots and individual levels. The following two programme areas need to be implemented to ensure that decisions are based increasingly on sound information: (a) Bridging the data gap; (b) Improving information availability. " (16) The UNCED names capacity buidling and the development of human resources as the key factors for any development in the direction of an improvement of the capabilities to produce, store, and retrieve relevant data "timely, reliable and usable" (17) for sustainable development. The authors point at a variety of projects under the aegis of the United Nations' Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Information Systems (ACCIS) and programmes as International Environmental Information System (INFOTERRA), demand the introduction of networking activities for a variety of other actors - such as NGOs - which in their view deserve strengthning in order to facilitate information sharing. According to the Agenda 21, there are impediments which are chiefly based on the fact that frequently commercially produced data, though existing in principle, bears a price-tag that will only put it within the reach of recipients in the developed world, which could be seen as one of the reasons that make it difficult finding "the appropriate information at the required time and at the relevant scale of aggregation". (18) Chapter 40 of A-21 concludes that developed countries and relevant international organizations should cooperate with developing countries in order to expand their capacity to provide appropriate public access (19) to relevant environmental and developmental information, by providing technology and training to establish local information services and by supporting partnership and cooperative arrangements between countries and on the regional or subregional level. UNCED intends to strengthen the existing institutions, and the cooperation with non-governmental organizations, with an annual budget of about US$ 165 million over a seven year period. (20) 2. UNESCO Current efforts at the UNESCO are also aimed at the creation of the technical means of coorepation by means of launching the Intergovernmental Informatics Programme in 1985. (21) In an interview on the occasion of the publication of the UNESCO World Science Report 1993, the organization's Director-General, Frederico Mayor commented: "Today the gap between poor and rich is a knowledge gap. There can be no sustainable development if there is no transfer of science." (22) Some of the measures proposed are the creation of networks "linking scientists in specialized subjects (...) through electronic data interchange over telephone links" (23) and the creation of an "invisible college". (24) Technological means are described as one means of "creating the community of scientists - the so called 'critical mass' - needed". (25) Mayor describes these efforts as a means of enabling sciensits in the Developing World to plug "into the best". (26) Through such agendas, UNESCO becomes one of the organizations, at which the UNCED-aids are targeted. (27) 3. International Cooperation and NGOs Under the aegis of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and California State University in Los Angeles, a network has been installed that relies on the access to public packet switched X.25 data-networks, available in some African countries. With nodes in Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, a virtual access to the embracing academic network - the "Internet" - is realized by encapsulating the necessary technical protocols into normal international X.25-traffic and transmitting it to CSU nodes at California State University. Although the project enjoys strong support from the government in most of the participating countries (30) and apparently allows for innovative ways of tuition and research (31), the main weakness of this system rests within infrastructural underdevelopment within most African countries, resulting in the fact that publicly accessible, packet switched data networks are unavailable in most of these countries. (32) The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa, Canada is involved in helping to establish a number of electronic networks in Africa. These projects are mainly grass-root projects, not building on the capability of accessing data networks and remote computers in "real time", however allowing a relatively swift exchange of electronic messages. (33) The following networks are functioning (as in 1992): - NGONET Africa is being based at the Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI) in Nairobi where bulletin board system (BBS) has been set up to provide a conduit for electronic mail traffic in the region and to NGOs worldwide. - ESANET (Eastern and Southern African Network) functions as a pilot project to link resrarchers from the universities of Kampala, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Lusaka and Harare. The network centre is based at at the University of Nairobi Institute of Computer Science. Resources are being shared with NGOnet in order to enable NGOs to access networks via campus-systems where there is no NGO-structure available. The network rests on relatively simple PC-architectures using high speed modems and dialling over phone lines. - HealthNet is being operated by the Boston based NGO SatelLife. (34) Having been initiated as a project of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), SatelLife makes special use of LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellite technology for the transmission of electronical messages worldwide, bypassing bottlenecks of local telecommunications infrastructures and often prohibitive tariffs, let alone the often poor equipment with terrestric connectivity through traditional dial phone lines. Satellife have purchased 60% of the capacity on the University of Surrey (UK) built Uosat-F satellite. This will be used to exchange health and medical information within the same Universities participating in the ESANET project and via Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada. Memorial is an appropriate site because of Dr. Maxwell House's work with telemedicine and because it is so far north the satellite passes overhead 10 times a day on a polar LEO. (35) - PADISNET (Pan African Documentation Centre Network) links development and planning centres in 34 countries on an experimental basis. Having to rely on normal international telephone links for data-transmission, the project has apparently not been very successful. (36) - VITANET: In a combination of satellite-based communication and packet-radio technology,(37) VITA (Volunteers in Technical Assistance) have found a way of providing information and assistance to develop- ment agencies in remote areas. Like SatelLife, VITA's system uses LEO-satellites that function as a kind of bulletin-board-system. Messages are being recorded (uplinked) when the LEO-satellite passes overhead at a given station and are later relayed (downlinked) when the satellite passes the destination station. To be able to perform its task, the satellite has a 10 Mega Byte on-board storage capacity. LEO-satellites, unlike satellites in so called 'geostationary orbit' are positioned at an altitude of approx. 800 Km (compared to 36,0000 Km for geostationary positioned systems). This results in these systems passing overhead at any given point on earth several times during a period of 24 hours. On the other hand, LEO-satellites are not permanently "visible" from any given point on earth, as they complete one orbit in less than two hours. (38) We can - to this point - summarize networking activities on the African continent into four categories: - Low speed data exchange of messages through the public switched telephone network, supported mostly by the FIDO bulletin-board-system software. - Packet switched terrestric amateur-radio networks to maintain comminucation in rural and remote areas. - Packet switched and satellite-relayed bulletin-board-system (BBS) style communication networks. - High-end solutions with facilities for the connection of campus- based computing centres to the Internet, chiefly by means of acces through X.25 data networks, where available. 4. Measures for the Etablishment of a Sound Communications Infrasturcture on the Arfican Continent With regard to the communications infrastructure of the continent, several measures have been taken by African governments to improve conditions by pooling potential: - The Panaftel-initiative is designed to improve the terestrial communica- tion links, provided within and between 45 member states on the conti- nent. It is the intention of the programme to route intra-Arfican traffic increasingly through domestic network centres. Apart from this, it is to provide the organizational background for a closer coordination of its members' efforts. - RASCOM is the Regional African Satellite Communications project. According to the agreement on RASCOM, signed in the RASCOM- convention at Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire on May 27, 1992 amongst its major tasks is "the design, development, construction, procurement, establishment, operation and maintenance of the regional African telecommunications satellite system". RASCOM shall have as its prime objective in the provision, on a commercial basis, of the space segment (40) required for national and international public telecom- munications services in Africa". (41) In a first step, RASCOM is formed after the Panaftel model to allow for a more effective pooling of existing leased transponder capaci- ties by pooling of capacities within a regional system, and a flexible apporach towards the eventual establishment (42) of a dedicated satellite system. (43) 5. Strengths and Flaws of the Current Networking Concepts As we have seen, up to the current date there are four main means of network computer-mediated communications. While FIDO-systems, relying on normal dialled telephone connections require little or no training to be operated, their price-performance ratio can be considered poor once it becomes necessary to use international telephone lines. Packet-radio networks (44) are an excellent means of communicaions in scarcely settled areas, as they allow for the exchange of information, even where any kind of communications infrastructure is virtually nox- existent. In addition to this, packet radio communication provides an inexpensive means of communication. Its main problems are system inherent and result in the system degrading in its capacity to transmit data over-proportionally to the growth of the number of stations that send data. Vice-versa, stations can be addressed individually from the center of the radially shaped network, resulting in a relatively high capacity of the network at any given time. Further limitations stem from the often prohibitive regulatory framework. (45) The installation of a packet-radio site is relatively inexpensive and may range around US$ 1,000. Extensive training is not necessary, however maintenance of packet radio systems might require special skills. Packet-switched LEO satellite based communications networks are much subject to the same type of limitations that are inherent to terrestrial packet radio networks, with regard to technical and organizational aspects. Packet radio satellites allow for a very effective bypassing of structural bottlenecks in local telecom- systems.(46) However, their data transmission capacity is limited to the maximum storage capacity of the systems aboard the space segment that functions as a kind of BBS in space. In that respect LEO satellite systems are a good alternative means of communication between professionals of the applied sciences- however tuition and learning usually demand for systems with storage and forwarding capacities on a by far larger scale. (47) Networks which are based upon the access to mainframe computing systems through public data network (48) do offer a sufficient "bandwith" (49) for tuition and learning projects. The main weekness of such project apparently rests with the fact that access to the necessary facilities in developing countries is rather the exception than the rule. Where it exists, it is prone to depend heavily on interests that are foreign in nature to the needs of the scientific community. (50) There are, however, a number of alternatives that would allow for the bridging of the data-gap. To be able to assess better the needs to which technological and structural solutions have to resopnd, we shall first try to understand the needs of the scientific community worldwide. V. The Internet We have earlier alluded to the "Internet" as _the_ embracing worldwide academic networking structure. Emcapsulated in a wide variety of physical transmission protocols, on the layer of protocols (the "language" in which computer host systems "talk" to one another) it is linked up by the so called TCP/IP standard. Initially, the Internet was an offspring of military researh initiatives to provide links between remote supercomputing facilities. Having developed into a universal communications structure for the exchange of data, the Internet today provides connectivity to approximately 15,000,000 users worldwide (51), predominantly in the industrialized world. Besides the embracing TCP/IP protocol and the fact that Network Information Centers (NICs) are responsible to give a unique access code to each country, within each country a unique access code is given to each larger entity (such as administrations or universities), and each larger entity allocates a name to each host computer, the organizational structure of the Internet is completely heterogeneous, there is no central planning agency. Access to the network is bought by a group of entities or individuals on the basis of "bandwidth" (52), independent of what volume of data is being transmitted over the line. 'For example, the (...) membership fee for a large university (usually in the range of $5,000) together with an allocation for some user services personnel may approximate $100,000 per year.'(53) Most entities "pool" their request on the market place for communication services. As an example, academic institutions in Germany buy their capacity from the German Telekom over the German society for academic Networks (the 'DFN-Verein') (54) We can observe at this point that the development of software-tools has followed suit to the special conditions on the Internet. Unlike commercial networks and database services, the Internet has no central agency for the organization of information. Search tools have been widely developed on the basis of the so called client-server architecture. (55) The main tools for the dissemination and retrieval of information on the Internet are: - e-mail: This is the most common denominator. All systems connected to the Internet run a program to send and receive electronic mail. A special variation of individual e-mail are so called mailing lists that enable conferencing for selected groups. - USENET-News: As public bulletin boards, the topics of which reach from mainstream scientific discussion to the most exotic ones (in all, almost 8,000 to 10,000), so called "newsgroups" are accessible on most mainframe computers. The concept of newsgroups is a hybrid of public debate and the synergy-effects that come with the random "browsing" of information. However, for writing- and reading-access every newsgroup has its well defined level of publicity, either being available to the general "network-public" or a selected user group. News-information is mostly stored on a dedicated computer system which keeps the information accessible to all authorized users at a given location. Though any given information can effectively reach a great number of reciepients simultaneously, a capacity of around 90 Mega Byte (or about 26,000 type writer pages) are the approximate daily flow of information through the global News-system. - ftp (file transfer protocol): ftp is used as a means of transmitting data between host computers. The format of this data can be texts, pictures or entire books (just to name the most common). A special variation of ftp is 'anonymous ftp'. 'Anonymous ftp' allows the user to access a huge variety of electronical archives that store text material. Most of the materials for the present article was gathered by 'anonymous ftp'. The easiest way to understand ftp is to interpret it as an electronical archive where any user with access to the Internet can request information that is then automatically forwarded and stored to his local disk by the remote system. ftp today is a very common means for the exchange of data. Many scientific texts and journals are accessible by anonymous ftp on a 'do-ut-des' basis without charge to the user. An entire culture of electronical publishing is developing. - Telnet: The telnet tool allows any user with real-time access to the Internet (mostly enabled at university computing centres) to perform almost any operation in another sytem on the network- the most prominent example being the direct connections of a growing number of library catalogues to the Internet for real- time research jobs to be performed. - Gopher/WWW/WAIS/Veronica: All three tools fall into the category of 'distributed databases'. Without being able elaborate in great detail at this point because of the complexity of the topic, the main idea behind the concept of 'distribution' can be easily understood: Through a uniform interface the user accesses the client programmes at his local machine. He can then enter his query, without actually having to know the _location_ of his desired target-information. In a very short period he will be presented with an automatically generated menu that allows him to get to his target information by simply typing its name into the keyboard from screen or selecting it in a fashion very similar to 'Windows' systems. The programme gathers 'distributed' units of target information that correspond with his original query. What these tools have in common is that they are being extensively used by an ever growing research- and commercially oriented community on the Internet. Experience shows that while outgoing information from any given user might be relatively small, he will only be able to enjoy the full benefits of participation, if he is enebled to retrieve electronical books by ftp, request computer programmes for the solution of a given problem, retrieve topical information by Gopher and Veronica and process this very information on his local system. This - in turn - requires substantial "bandwitdth" for incoming data to any given system on the network. Experiences with the development of an entire non- commercial operating system by programmers from all over the world have proven that the Internet is a powerful tool to create synergetic effects for virtual communities, cooperating in projects that require a high level of specilization. (56) VI. Innovative Technological Approaches As we have shown, it appears necessary to respond to the needs of the science community in the developing world in a more flexible way than has hitherto been the case. As we have shown in section IV.3., existing strategies do either not respond to the ever growing need to move and store increasing amounts of data or are simply unavailable outside the big centres. 1. Technological Perspectives During the last five years, a new technology has quickly developed into a viable system for data communications: VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) based communications. The idea of this concept is to link relatively inexpensive terminals with small satellite dishes to data- transmission centres (the so called "hubs") (57) via communications satellites in a geostationary orbit. The communication process is very similar to the procedures used in packet radio networks: two frequencies are being used, one for the uplink from VSAT to hub, another one from hub to VSAT, known as downlink frequency. Similar packet radio, uplink to the hub from VSAT is being achieved by means of a slotted ALOHA (58) random-access procedure. The speed of data transmission is limited and has at best 62% of overhead that is lost by data collision. Downlink from a hub to any given VSAT-station is unimpeded by data collisions, as any of the stations can be individually addressed from the network control center. VSAT networks are segmented into user groups with several stations sharing one pair of frequencies and certain capacities at the hub. VSAT- stations can be linked to Local Area Networks (LANs), solutions to link up hubs with networks such as the Internet do exist. A special variation of VSAT technology can bee seen in "broadcast-only" systems. For applications like USENET-News, broadcast only solutions seem a close to ideal way to save the capacity of dedicated leased two-way communication lines from overload.(59) VSAT-systems would hold the advantage of being universally and permanently available, coming very close to the quality of service that could be provided by terrestrial data networks. At hardware costs of about US$ 10,000 and monthly costs of around US$ 700 (60), VSAT terminals have a monthly capacity for data-transmission around 10 Mega Byte. VSAT-systems, on the other hand, cannot be operated successfully if there is not a minumum infrastructure with regard to servicing and uplink capacities. The latter depend on the availability of a sufficient number of space segments available and presumably on the availability of a dedicated hub. 2. Policy Initiatives As we have seen in previous chapters, a considerable amount of creativity and know-how is around, as far as communications in the developing world are concerned. We have identified it as one of the main aims of a succesful concept for scientific datacomminications in developing nations to provide for better links between scientists, in order to prevent brain drain (information and data should move, scientists should not, if their movement equals emigration). With initiatives like RASCOM, important steps are being made in the direction of developing an infrastructure for sustainable develop- ment through 'sustainable communications'. What is needed is a change of attitude and its subsequent transformation into the political will to grant a high priority to communications on the list of development projects, which notably has not always been the case. (61) The protagonists have already come on stage, what is missing is the playwrhight to provide them with a role to play. Certainly it would be constructive if ITU's Africa Telecom 94 conference was thinking about ways of developing a reliable VSAT network that could be managed by a commercially acting body funded by UN-institutions, intergovernmental cooperation and UNCED support. Such an agency should concentrate on - pooling request on the market for satellite capacities, possibly in close coopperation with RASCOM; - be responsible for the construction of a hub in which academic institutions should become members, similarly to structures that pool academic institutions' request for carrier services on the Internet (DFN-Verein); - entering into close cooperation with governmental programmes - such Germany's efforts to build a center for the research of development policies in Bonn - in order to lay the groundwork for a dedicated computing centre for the storage of data and knowledge, relevant to researchers, students, and policy-makers in the developing world, facilitating the flow of information from developing countries into the developed ones and turning the exchange of ideas and infor- mation into a road with two carriageways, instead of the one directio- nal flow of the present. NOTES: (1) Speech of U.S. Vice-President Albert Gore at UCLA, January 11, 1994. (2) See Wired-Magazine (1993), in: gopher gopher.wired.com 0/Etext/1.2 /departments/flux: "The Department of Defense has licensed Worldview Imaging of Oak- land, California, to provide real-time satellite views of the earth via personal computer. Users of the system could tap into the satellites to peek at objects on the earth's surface as small as three meters in length. Worldview's braintrust includes Edward Teller, father to the hydrogen bomb and the man largely responsible for selling the ill-fated Star Wars anti-missile scheme to Ronald Reagan." (3) Abdus Salam, Cooperation for Development, in: UNESCO World Science Report 1993, p. 167. (4) Statistics contributed by Remi Barre and Papon in the UNESCO World Science Report, op cit., p. 148, indicate that Sub-Sharan Africa has a percenta- ge of students abroad ranging at an average 14.4%, compared to a mere 2.1% from the countries of the European Union and 0.2% from the U.S. (5) Abdus Salam, op. cit., p. 167. (6) Abdus Salam, op. cit., p. 170. (7) ibid. (8) Thomas R. Odhiambo, Africa, in: UNESCO World Sience Report 1993, op. cit., pp 86-94. (9) Abdus Salam, op. cit., p. 170. (10) Or, as Odhiambo, op. cit., p 86, cites Worthington: " 'As in economics, so in science, considerable specialization has taken place in dif- ferent territories, so that the collaboration, or even a full exchange of information, could give great benefits.' " It is self- evident that - the higer the level of research - it becomes less probable to find a sufficient number of exchange partners in direct geographical vicinity. While this is obviously true for most of the developed countries, it seems to be an even more compel- ling problem in developing countries. (11) Ohhiambo, op.cit., p. 91, builds a strong case for this viewpoint: "In addition, Africa must begin to look gift horses in the mouth - particularly when it comes to the assistance for the estab- lishment ant nurturing of Africa's own S&T [Science and Tech- nology, comment by author] capacity, which is a vital element for modernizing and invigorating the pace of the continent's self-sustaining social and economic development." (12) ibid., p. 92: "The process of capacity building must be securely and consistently anchored within the deceloping countries themselves, linked to effective capacity utilization." (13) Odhiambo, op. cit., p. 92. (14) Beryl L. Bellman/Alex Tindimubona (1991): Global Networks and International Communications: AFRINET, in: ftp DHVX20.CSUDH.EDU/ANONYMOUS.VITA/AFRINET.TXT. Please note that no page or line numbers are indicated, as this text - like other resources cited - exists in electronical format as public domain and line or page numbering does depend on the output device used. All excerpts can be easily retrieved, though, by means of a simple string-search after downloading the texts. For further information, please consult 'appendix A' of the present paper. (15) UNCED Conference (Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June, 1992): Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Chapter 40, Information for Decision Making, in: gopher gopher.undp.org/UNCED/English/a21-40.txt. (16) ibid. (17) ibid. (18) ibid. (19) Besides the commercial production, transport, and retrieval of data, there is a 'second way', which we will try to elaborate later in the present text when dealing with the "Internet". (20) ibid. (21) Michel Batisse: Intergovernmental Cooperation, in: UNESCO World Science Report 1993, p. 157. (22) UNCED: I/1 World Science Report Press summary - a world of new challenges and striking contrasts, p. 1. (23) ibid., p. 3. (24) ibid., p. 4. (25) ibid. (26) ibid. (29) M.G.K. Menon: Introduction, in: UNESCO World Science Report 1993, p.9. (30) Bellman/Tindimubona, op. cit.: "The Academy enjoys great geo- political support from Africa's leaders, many of whom already active- ly participate in Academy programs (e.g. the Management of Science Project chaired by Gengovernments. Once this is accepted and sub- scribed to, the AAS's formal recognition as an international organi- zation with diplomatic status will be complete." (31) Bellman/Tindimubona, op. cit., explain a project exploiting messaging and remote-access databases: "We are now engaged in initiating for Winter term a collaboratively taught course between faculty at the United States institutions and the Department of Journalism and Communications at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. The course involves 14 hours of video recorded documentary information about various new communication technologies (...), and computer conferencing led discussions. The course has already been offered in the United States and Mexico by faculty from the California State University, and will be offered again in conjunction with African student participation. In the United States version of the course students do not meet face-to-face with the professor, but only interact using computer conferencing and electronic mail." (32) Cf. ITU-Lynx database of telecommunications services and tariffs. Also see: Vineeta Shetty (1991): African net quality tests users' mettle: Dearth of digital facilities, subpar conditions, costs pose obstacle to users extending nets to continent, in: ftp DHVX20.CSUDH.EDU/ANONYMOUS.VITA/AFR_INFRASTRUCTURE.TXT: "The predominance of packet-switched networks in West Africa is due in part to the presence of foreign oil firms in the area that need access to remote locations and their home countries." (33) Arni Mikelsons et al. (1992): Technical Report of the Global Networking Workshop, held in Toronto (Canada) 1 to 14 February 1992, in: ftp DHVX20.CSUDH.EDU/ANONYMOUS.VITA/AFRICA_WORKSHOP1.TXT (34) ibid.: "Although the current traffic is limited to health related issues it will be up to the individual participating institutions in Africa to obtain clearance from the authorities for a wider interpretation of the health mandate. As far as the funders of the HealthNet project are concerned, this could encompass a much broader range of environmental and social issues. Currently however, only Zambia has been successful in obtaining approval for the installation of the ground station and this was with a specific medically oriented application. The Zambian approval nevertheless sets a precedent for the authorities in the other countries. Also Zambia will now be able to host satellite traffic from the other participating countries via direct dial telephone lines with the ESANET Fido network until other ground stations have been approved. More recently the Dean of Medical Studies at the University of Makarere in Kampala, Uganda has expressed optimism over approval of their satellite application which has an even broader mandate to include environmental information." Most of the restrictions described by Mikelsons have to be under- stood in the light of the fact that data exchange over LEO-satellites has traditionally taken place in the amateur (ham-) radio frequency spectrum. In most countries usage of this spectrum is limited to technical conversation, the exchange of trivial information or disaster relief (compare e.g. the U.S. FCC's Rules for Amateur Radio (CFR 47 Part 97), available via anonymous ftp ftp.cs.buffalo.edu /pub/ham-radio/fcc_part_97_2. Section 97.117 reads: "International communications. - Transmissions to a different country, where permitted, shall be made in plain language and shall be limited to messages of a technical nature relating to tests, and, to remarks of a personal character for which, by reason of their unimportance, recourse to the public telecommunications service is not justified.") It might be considered a forgone conclusion that similar regulations might often be used for a short-sighted protection of the commercial interests of local carriers and PTTs. (35) Arni Mikelsons, op.cit. . (36) ibid. (37) Stephen R. Ruth (1992): AIMING FOR THE ELUSIVE PAYOFF OF USER NETWORKS: AN NGO PERSPECTIVE, in: ftp DHVX20.CSUDH.EDU/ANONYMOUS.VITA/NGO_PERSPECTIVE.TXT. (38) Hans Dodel: Satellitensysteme fuer Kommunikation, Fernsehen und Rundfunk, Heidelberg 1986, p. 2 and also Dennis Roddy: Satellitenkommunikation, Munich 1991, pp. 20-24. (39) Shetty, op. cit.: "Under the Panaftel program, intra-African tele- communications traffic will be increasingly routed through African transit centrs. There is a good chance that the tariff restructuring resultingfrom this will benefit major customers. Another objective of Panaftel is the resolution of cross-border interconnection problems, such as those between Kenya and Malawi; Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti; and Cameroon and Chad." (40) The term 'space segment' in this context is used synonymously for the equipment of a satellite transmission chain that is postitioned in outer space. (41) See S. Taylor (1992): Rascom: A New Challenge for Africa, in: gopher info.itudoc.ch 1/.1/ITUdoc/.dirtree/.1/.itu-r/ .xifrb/.sem/.ge92/.21502 (42) ibid. (43) For the period between 1986 and 1992, RASCOM received funding through the United Nations Development Programme of approximately 8,000,000 US$. See: Regional African Satellite Communication System (RASCOM), in: gopher info.itudoc.ch 1/.1/ITUdoc/.dirtree /.1/.itu-r/.xifrb/.sem/.ge92/.21502 (44) Packet radio was developed in the early 1970 at the University of Hawaii. The basic idea of the system is the usage of two seperate normal radio-channels that link stations and digital repeater stations (so called Digipeaters). One of these channels is being used for the transmission of digital audio burst signals from the stations to the Digipeater, the other channel allows Digipeaters to address each single station with data. The digital audio bursts, transmitted over the normal microphone jack of a normal amateur radio stations, are called data "packets". The stations address the Digipeater at any time, which can create the situation of two stations transmitting on the same frequency to Digipeater. Whenever such a transmission does not lead to the desired response, transmission are repeated until no collisions of data transmitted over the same channel happen. The procedure - due to its origin - is known as ALOHA. Recent versions of packet radio implementations since the mid-1980s are based upon the X.25 protocol, similar to stationary packet switched networks. For a detailed description of random-acces to packet switched networks see Dodel: op. cit., p. 37 and 53. (45) Compare note (34), as regulatory problems in packet radio networks do largely coincide with the problems described here. Advances towards general acknowledgement for the importance of radio communications in rural areas have been made so far; the first communications assembly (RA-93) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has istituted a study group on "the contribution of new technologies for rural communications in developing countries." (See ITU Newsletter 1/94). (46) In fact, with the extremely low launch-costs of about US$ 1,000,000 - about 1/400th of the current cost of launching a commercial communications satellite for a geostationary orbit - (see Mark Bennett: Healthnet in Zambia: The technical Implmentation of a Communications System for Health Workers, in: ftp DHVX20.CSUDH.EDU/ ANONYMOUS.AFRICA/HNZAMBIA.TXT) - the system might earn for itself. Bennett gives the example of a one minute international phone call from Zambia to the UK costing the face value of some US$ 7. (47) Within the following chapter, we will try to explain some of the synergetic effects that can only be reached when communication is not taking place as a point-to-point relation but rather includes the opportunities of electronic group conferencing and electronic publishing, two of the essentials in present academic computer mediated communi- cations over the universal "Internet". (48) See notes (30) and (31). (49) The term is also used colloquially and as such refers to the actual speed of data transmissions of which the parties in a given network dispose. (50) See Shetty, op. cit., who gives the example of foreign oil companies chiefly funding for the construction of packet switched data networks in the West African region. Also Gary Garriott (1993): Training for the Future in African Networking, in: Developnet News, vol. 3, No. 10, gopher lan.vita.org 0/vita/dnn/dnn3.oct. (51) See Unix-World, December 1993, pp. 42-61. (52) See above, note (49). (53) Ruth, op.cit. (54) For detailed information gopher to rigel.dfn.de. (55) In client-server architectures, the user does not directly access a given set of information. Instead, a user interface is offered which will be very much standardized and customized to the working environment the user is accustomed to on his system. Entering any query into his terminal system, the 'client' software on his local machine will translate his query into a standard format that is readable for any remote computer that runs a 'server'-package appropriate for the 'client' used. There are several advantages to this system, the most important amongst them being the fact that data is only submitted in small standardized packets instead of 'live' online sessions between host ('server') and terminal ('client'). This increases network capacity considerably. Secondly, the user is not confronted with a multitude of different operating procedures but can perform almost every task within his well known working environment on his local system. (56) See C'T-Magazin fuer Computertechnik, November 1992, p. 42. (57) For a more detailed description see: Robert M. Gagliardi: Satellite Communications, New York (2)1991, pp. 461-474. (58) See note (44). (59) Pagesat Inc. of Palo Alto, California have developed a system that uses audio subcarriers on direct broadcast satellites for the transmission of USENET-newsgroups. With costs running at about US$ 1,800 for ground station equipment, this seems a suitable way of granting connectivity to ongoing discussions over the Internet. An operational system has to this date been realized in the U.S.. (60) Prices for monthly operation of terminals vary heavily, depending on several factors such as the availability of sufficient and inexpensive satellite capacity in the space segment, servicing infrastructure and possible pooling of the highly cost-intensive hub-facilities that render necessary investments in a low six-digit- range. Prices indicated here are average values for industrialized regions. (61) Bennett, op. cit., sums up in the - often heard - question what a hospital at a remote location could use computers for, once they were not even able to afford the Aspirin. ======================================================================== All rights for this text with the author. Text may be redistributed for non-commercial purposes only, if not edited in any way. The text is available as file POSCIM BDRA from LISTSERV@vm.gmd.de by sending the command GET POSCIM BDRA as first line of an e-mail. A printed version of this text is available as: Markus Schlegel/Ludger Wiedemeier: Fostering Brain Drain, in: Communications, Vol. 19, 1 (1994), pp. 105-126. From: "Arthur R. McGee" <email@example.com> ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 20 Jul 1994 21:37:36 +0200 From: BITNET list server at DEARN <LISTSERV@vm.gmd.de> Subject: File: "BDRA TXT"
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