If you have the technical skills would-be high-tech African entrepreneurs need, GeekCorps wants you. Especailly if you can take four months from work to volunteer in Zambia, South Africa or Kenya. GeekCorps is part of International Executive Service Corps, which is funded in large part by USAID (that's the government connection.)
News.com profiles GeekCorps' work in Mali:
Equipped with dust-resistant PCs, digital audio broadcasting equipment and antennas assembled from salvage, local radio broadcasters are emerging as ersatz Internet service providers in the West African nation, thanks in part to a program initiated by Geekcorps, a U.S.-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to cultivating high-tech skills and businesses in the world's emerging nations.
If a villager wants to get a note to a friend in another part of the country, he or she comes to the radio station and dictates an e-mail to the DJ, who then sends the message off to another station closer to the recipient's location. The DJ who receives the e-mail then issues a broadcast: Muhammad Kanoute, come to the station and I will read your e-mail message to you.
While email seems an obvious use of the extreme-lag process, Mali DJs are connecting listeners to Internet-based information in unexpected ways, too.
[L]ocals adapt to technology quickly and in unexpected ways. In Mali, DJs at radio stations that installed PCs began to use them to answer listener questions using information found on Wikipedia or other Web sites. Digital technology also makes it easier to keep politicians publicly accountable for their promises.
During the Paris riots, Internet use kicked into full swing. One of Mali's largest exports is young men who serve as laborers in Paris. Villagers wanted to receive a continual stream of news reports, as well as to send messages to their migrant relatives.
Want to help out? GeekCorps is recruiting March 2 in San Francisco. Current needs: Experts in Knowledge Management, Object-Oriented programming, C++, and Linux for spring and summer 2006 assignments in Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa.