If I may be politically incorrect, this effort is going nowhere. The Digital Solidarity Fund is a drop in the bucket, and likely to remain so. The Bush administiration is not going to spend significant money here when their posture in the U.S. is that the private market will provide for all needs. The $100 computer pushed by MIT is a better way to get at the problem. The Digital Divide is a situation tailor made for high risk financing – third world markets are high risk, but the potential scale and upside is enormous. This looks a lot to me like where the cable television industry was 30 years ago. Michael Milken went to jail, but now we all have more digital television channels than we can stand. Watch the Network Infrastructure section of this site for my forthcoming paper on Capital Formation for Closing the Digital Divide.
“An African-led initiative that will use high-speed internet connections to treat AIDS patients in Burundi and Burkina Faso offers inspiration for those working to bridge the world’s digital divide…The Digital Solidarity Fund has just $6.4 million in cash and pledges, pocket change compared with the $2.25 billion the United States spends a year on E-rate grants to schools and libraries in the nation’s rural and low-income areas. Of the countries contributing to the world fund, all but one — France — are African.