Image via WikipediaUbuntu is named after a philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other. The Linux distribution was created by a South African to help the poor in South Africa and the whole of Africa. Sadly, most Africans are excluded from using Ubuntu because of a package choice Ubuntu made years ago.
Now, I'm not African or living in Africa: I'm a U.S. citizen living in . I don't have any first-hand experience with this situation other than the similarities between the state of rural African connectivity and rural Thai connectivity (which is surprisingly similar). I have, however, heard people around the world complaining.
Internet penetration in Africa is a paltry 6.7% of the population, compared to 27.7% outside of Africa. Moreover, Africans have very limited broadband options due to infrastructure.
Most African countries now have commercial DSL services, but their growth is limited by the poor geographical reach of the fixed-line networks. The rapid growth of Internet access has therefore been mostly confined to the capital cities so far. The introduction of mobile data and 3G broadband services is changing this, with the mobile networks bringing Internet access to many areas outside of the main cities for the first time.*Most Africans (both now and in the future) who have a choice of connectivity (many have no choice) have two connectivity options: dial-up and 3G data. Both of these methods use ppp to connect. Many parts of the world, including some developed countries, have similar options for connecting to the Internet.
Shockingly, Ubuntu dropped wvdial and gnome-ppp -- the command-line and GUI ppp connectors, respectively -- from the distro years ago. In order to connect to the Internet, most African users must therefore connect to the Internet (see the problem?), download the appropriate packages, and configure their dial-up or 3G connection. Just about anyone who has used Ubuntu knows that it's not particularly capable out of the box without Internet access. (Edit: Jono Bacon says that 3G connectivity is included out of the box. I don't doubt him, but all the howtos I have read used ppp. 3G must be a new addition to NetworkManager.)
So ... what was gained by dropping these two packages? Space on the CD.
What was the price of excluding most of Ubuntu's target market? 250K bytes of space on the CD. About 70% of the size of Gwibber, the Twitter client set to be included by default on 10.04.