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Gabby was confident that his plans would prove profitable. In fact, the young scammers that Burrell spoke with in 2005 admitted to her that they saw few if any gains from their strategies.
This had changed when Burrell returned to Ghana in 2010.
While chatting online, Fauzia mentioned “ok, my phone is giving me problems and I will be very grateful if you could send me money to get a better phone or if you could send me a new phone.” After repeating the request, “I didn’t see him online again,” said Fauzia.
“He stopped chatting, he disappeared.” Although such a request might seem suspicious to a Westerner, “small transfers of funds between friends are a regular feature of relationships among youth in Accra,” explained Burrell.
“And it certainly didn't have the public access facilities or Internet cafés that most Ghanaians needed.
More widespread Internet access didn’t become available until the early 2000s.” As a result, subcultures of the Internet and ‘netiquette’ — rules and expectations about how to relate to people online — developed in the US in the 1990s and were cemented before most Ghanaians ever encountered the Internet.
Burrell tells a story of a burgeoning online friendship between Fauzia, a young Ghanaian woman, and an Egyptian man.But when Internet connectivity finally arrived after the turn of the 21st century, many of these optimistic youth struggled to form connections with the foreigners they encountered online.New research by School of Information professor Jenna Burrell looks under the surface of Internet culture in Ghana, exploring why many of Ghana’s hopes went unrealized and how Ghanaians have responded.Although Ghana’s elite already had Internet access and international connections, the more widespread availability of public Internet cafés provided the first opportunity for many ordinary Ghanaians — especially youth — to interact with the wider world.“The Internet provided opportunities for making faraway places very tangible and personal,” said Burrell.