While much has been written about bridging the digital chasm and connecting the next billion to the Internet, it is slow going to make it happen. Currently, 3.4 billion people do not have access to the Internet and the bulk of them live in developing countries and rural areas. In these underserved areas, women are far less likely to be connected to the Internet than men – in low and middle income countries, women are 10% less likely to own a mobile phone than men and are 26% less likely to use mobile Internet. This all means that the economic opportunities and human connections provided by the Internet are not readily available to the people who need it the most.
I believe that solving this problem requires us to put local people and their needs, as well as the tools for sustainable, locally driven progress at the center of the plan. This is why I co-founded the People-Centered Internet (PCI) and why I am such a fan of the work that Steve Huter and the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) at the University of Oregon do.