Over the past year, several Googlers have made trips to Liberia, one of the world’s poorest countries with a per capita GDP of $500. As shown in the figure below, Liberia has one of the lowest volumes of Internet traffic per capita in the world, and ranks in the bottom quintile within Africa.
Historically constrained by slow and expensive satellite connections for Internet connectivity, the country expects to connect to the ACE submarine cable in 2013. This international connectivity will enable the deployment of low-cost infrastructure and accelerate the adoption of inexpensive Internet-enabled devices. As such, Liberia has an excellent opportunity to harness the Internet for economic and human development gains over the next few years.
At Google.org, we are contributing ideas for Liberia’s efforts to build Internet capacity, outlined in a white paper, “Best Practices for Liberia’s Internet Ecosystem.” We outline principles for establishing a strong Internet foundation in Liberia. Suggestions include piggybacking on non-telecom infrastructure investments, creating an Internet exchange point, and opening spectrum in WiMax, WiFi and TV white spaces for ISPs.
In putting this white paper together, we benefited from the diversity of global challenges that Googlers have experienced when working with networks. The paper also taps into the first-hand knowledge of local stakeholders across public, private, and non-profit sectors. In collaboration with the many complementary players in Liberia, we aim to turn technology opportunity into development progress.