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Busy in Accra

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Nick Baker | 17:44 UK time, Monday, 9 November 2009

I'm at Busy Internet Café in Accra, Ghana, which claims to be the biggest in Africa.  70 screens, and a  luxury "laptop lane"  which will take a further 70  who bring their own laptop and hook on to the wi fi.  With broadband penetration low in Ghana, Busy's benefitting, and developing itself as an internet service provider.  Building the home  internet from café society.   Eventually - though the time seems a long way off - the internet café here will give way to home broadband as it has elsewhere. So Busy's busy investing in the future.

Busy's a business, but it's a community-minded one. As well as providing mini-office space with built in wif fi to small start ups, it texts Accra market prices to farmers in the north of Ghana with up to the minute produce prices, which deters speculation by middle men.

There's a side to Busy which links back to the world's frst "cybercafé".  When Ivan Pope, internet art pioneer and inventor of the concept started the first internet café at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 1994 so that people could look at art works on line, he had "waiters"  going from customer to customer to help with their order.  At Busy, there appears to be the same level of personal service, red polo shirted helpers patrolling the aisles and helping browsers. (see pic of kid with hat) I'm beginning to think there's something good-hearted about the whole idea of these places, although that doesn't seem logical.

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