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AFRO-NETS> African participation in AFRO-NETS
- Subject: AFRO-NETS> African participation in AFRO-NETS
- From: Davidson Gwatkin <email@example.com>
- Date: Sat, 31 May 1997 13:06:54 -0400
African participation in AFRO-NETS
Ms. Tavrow's disagreement with my concern about American, European,
and International Agency domination of the Afro-Nets is thoughtful. Her
argument, as I understand it, is that Afro-Nets represents a step in the
right direction toward African involvement, in that at least Africans now
know what we North Americans are planning for them, whereas before we were
doing it behind their backs. And that over time, we can expect African
involvement to increase.
There's certainly a kernel of truth in this. But there would also be
a kernel of truth in the opposite argument that the net effect of Afro-Nets
is to increase the capacity of us North Americans, Europeans, international
agency people to dominate intellectually by making it easier for us to
communicate among ourselves through a medium which, while open to Africans
in principle, is in fact for the moment at least beyond the means of most
potentially interested Africans to access on a regular basis.
Ms. Tavrow's comment, and the even more striking silence from other
participants, make it pretty clear that I'm very much in the minority on
this point. So that if is to be guided by the majority view of it's
current participants, there is little basis for concern or for any special
effort to increase the participation of Africans who currently lack the
means for this purpose.
This would be a misguided position, in my view, given just how
unrepresentative current users appear to be of the entire population of
potential participants with a legitimate interest in African health. I
still think it would be well worth doing the survey of usage I suggested
earlier, to determine whether there is in fact an issue here. Then if
there is, I would advocate not waiting for the natural course of events --
inevitably quite slow, and often quite unpredictable -- to increase African
participation. Rather, the next step in Afro-Nets' development should be
an aggressive drive to increase African participation.
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