Saturday, 17 October 2009


(By Richard Holway Saturday 17th Oct 09) Back in 2003, I introduced my ‘Martini Moment’ theme – basically the ultimate aim was to be able to access the internet ‘anyplace, anytime and from any device’. Since then I have excitedly reported achieving this on land, at sea and in the air. I guess listening to the Archers on my laptop in a junk in the Mekong Delta/Vietnam three years ago was the point where I realised my Martini Moment had arrived. Since then I have reported on ever more remote locations where I have been able to gain internet access. Indeed, in all my travels since, to India, China, Korea etc, I have rarely been out of mobile internet range for more than a hour or two.

This week we have been visiting Egypt and Jordan . Here I expected good internet access in the main cities. But on one trip we travelled by truck for 4 hours into the Jordanian desert. We ate dinner in a Bedouin camp. Only candles lit the campsite so we could experience the blackest of skies twinkling with a million stars. But wait…what is that other glow I see? All around me the Bedouins were on their mobile phones! It was only later that I spotted the tallest mobile mast I have ever seen right in the middle of the desert – indeed the only man made structure I could see!

Cairo has some pretty awful slums. Many of the 18m inhabitants live in squalid conditions without water or sewage. But, yet again, everyone seems to have a mobile phone. The shanty towns may not have had flush toilets but they all seemed to have a satellite dish!
At the moment, most of these very poor people use basic mobile phones but I’m certain that in a few years smartphones will be the norm here too. That provides a powerful computing device in the hands of the poorest in the land. I know how access to the internet has revolutionised my own life and that of my kids and grandchildren. But they are the ‘haves’ of this world. Wouldn’t it be great to think that those advantages, that information revolution, might at last come to the ‘have nots’ too?

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