I would take whatever Intel, Microsoft and others say and write about the digital divide projects they support with a grain of salt and look for independent evaluations of their activities. The more we get indebted in one way or another to the large corporations that are becoming increasing active in "development" circles, whether through their corporate social responsibility programs or their more direct marketing, the more it becomes difficult to find anyone really capable of saying whether their activities are successful or not -- or anyone who can tell them how to improve their programs.
I would ask questions about sustainability. Intel, Microsoft and the like are just like traditional donor agencies in many ways. They support projects, activities that have a beginning and an end. Ideally, when the project ends -- from their perpective -- there has to be a way of keeping the activities running, to maintain the computers, to keep paying for the connectivity, to find funding to replace the computers when they become obsolete, to continuously train people... etc...
that is very true, the sustainability of all big corporate projects and the validaty of them is sometimes rather vague.
Your point about Intel, Microsoft, Cisco and other donating companies is well taken. It may be the passionate people who keep the programs going, but who is going to pay the bills? Perhaps the corporate world could pay the universities to evaluate and run the programs. I think Standford is doing just in Africa with Ken Banks and the mobile phone project I mentioned in an earlier post.
Here is one of Ken's presentation:
A very nice project that shows the possibilities of mobile projects is on citizen journalism in Africa
In addition to this, you do not even need electricity for your mobile if you connect a solar panel to your phone:
the chinese model
the stand alone solar panel