GENEVA -- Karanja Gakio
saw early on that information and communications technologies held huge promise for development and advancement on his
native continent of Africa. In 1995, Mr. Gakio co-founded Africa Online, the first commercial Internet service provider in Kenya and a continuing Internet presence in eight African countries today.
"We realized that this was a revolution that was going to happen whether or not we got involved, so we decided to jump in right at the beginning," he
said, some African governments initially tried to block their service."They were scared of the Internet and email and what it might do," said Mr. Gakio
."They worried about competition with government-owned telephone companies, or about the transmission of information without their ability to monitor it."
"But that has all changed now," added Mr. Gakio
."Now Africans are worried they are going to be left out." Mr. Gakio
was among the thousands of Africans and other representatives from the developing world at the World Summit on the Information Society
(WSIS), a major United Nations conference on information and communications technologies held here 10-12 December 2003.
...Mr. Gakio, co-founder of Africa Online, likewise said ICT has a tremendous capacity for stimulating social change."There is something different about it from other development tools," said Mr. Gakio, who is now director of Cyberplex Holdings, Ltd., in Gaborone, Botswana, an Internet consulting company.
"It has a multiplier effect.And it can bring people together to create their own knowledge and do their own research." Mr. Gakio
was present at the WSIS
as part of the Bahá'í International Community's delegation to the Summit.