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 Africa's Transformative Digital Revolution
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Momodou



Denmark
8490 Posts

Posted - 11 Jan 2014 :  13:53:13  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message
Silicon Savannah: Africa's Transformative Digital Revolution

By Jan Puhl
SPIEGEL ONLINE


In the space of 10 years, mobile phones and the Internet have changed African nations more significantly than any development since their independence from colonial powers. Now a growing group of entrepreneurs want to take things further.

In a loft with high windows, wooden floors and long tables, young women with their hair in small braids and men in colorful T-shirts sit bent over their laptops. They are students, bloggers, web designers and programmers. Their office, called iHub, could be somewhere in tech-obsessed California, but is actually located in a place few people associate with cutting-edge tech culture -- Nairobi.

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A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone

kayjatta



2969 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2014 :  07:48:58  Show Profile Send kayjatta a Private Message
I am not quite that optimistic. I think the recent influx of internet and mobile devices into Africa (while having some benefits)is poised to even widen the inequality among the economic classes in Africa. The few African elites who are able to maximize the benefits of these new technologies will disproportionately improve their economic lot than the vast majority of the unemployed who have inadequate access and utility to this gadgets. Mobile devices and their accompanying facebook, twitter, and the like have instead simply made begging and solicitation eassier for the unemployed African youth.
Mobile technology and its accompanying feeling of global reach is hardly a solution to the underdevelopment of African countries. Instead it expedites the reach of global capital into the African market by tapping into the purchasing power of the African elites largely in government.
The African youth, unemployed and hungry, cannot enjoy the luxury of video games in an economically sustainable basis.
Africa's path to development must not rest on the consumption of peripheral technology - consumption that in the end has to be even supplemented by remittances by friends and family from Europe and North America.
I seriously doubt that there is any future for a robost service economy in Africa without first building a productive (manufacturing) economy that adequately provides the basic needs of the vast majority of the people.....
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Momodou



Denmark
8490 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2014 :  09:23:52  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message
Kay,
I do agree with you about some of the negative issues but in my opinion the advantages outweighs those fears.

The following is an extract from an article I wrote for a magazine back in 1997 which I still believe is valid. The article was called: Africa joins the rush on Internet
------quote------
"The advent of cheaper and more available technologies allows for technological development to take place. Technology is here to stay and African underdevelopment is largely the result of her lack of scientific and technological knowhow. This emerging communication technology allows everyone to participate in the global market.
Certainly the Internet is designed for ease of use and there are thousands of educational advantages to be gained from using the Internet. One perennial problem for developing countries is the "brain drain"- not least of citizens who go overseas for training and stay there.
Hundreds of highly qualified Africans immigrate to Europe and the USA alone every year. If Internet access allowed them to stay in daily contact with the best authorities in their fields, wherever they may be, would they need to go abroad to do PhDs or other studies?
The development of the Net -and especially the web - as a massive archiving tool could mean that all information available in the North would be also immediately accessible in the South - if infrastructures are developed and costs brought down. John Mukela of the Center for Development Information in Lusaka, Zambia sees it as a question of job satisfaction:
"If the Internet does halt the brain drain it will do so precisely because people will feel adequately in touch. Many find the lack of exposure at home more debilitating than the low income - and many will prefer to work from their own communities if the possibility for international exposure exists."
The wide-scale use of computers will become a reality only when rural electrification programmes are successfully implemented in the African countries. There is enough sunlight to make this possible."
--------end quote----

Our unemployment youth are able to compete globally if only they become more innovative and stop wasting their precious time drinking ataya or begging on the social networks.


A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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kayjatta



2969 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2014 :  10:11:19  Show Profile Send kayjatta a Private Message
I agree, but still differ in the sense that technology alone is a small aspect of the development equation and of course development itself is a very controversial concept.
technological adoption in Africa as of today is merely an act of consumption of technology, not production of technology. The anticipated development will not come this way.
We also know that global capital and the minds that produce and create that capital are exclusively concentrated in the universities and institutions in the capital cities in Europe and North America (New York, London, Washington D.C., Geneva, etc)for obvious reasons. Under these conditions, mere interconnectedness (globalization) appears to be actually increasing Africa's brain drain instead of slowing it down.
I agree that thses technologies of social media have their benefits, but our governments must focus on directing the national economies towards the adequate production and distribution of our basic needs which are currently severely lacking....
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Momodou



Denmark
8490 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2014 :  11:41:11  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message
There is no doubt I agree with you about the responsibilities of our Governments in focusing towards the production and distribution of basic needs.
However, the use of current available technology easing many of the services needed can't be ruled out if properly used.
We donít need to reinvent the wheel. Who says that our folks should not be able to compete in software production in future?

Attitudes towards technical fields should be changed if we should advance in production in the Gambia. We need more students taking maths and science subjects in the school. Of course qualified teachers are needed.

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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toubab1020



9007 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2014 :  23:27:48  Show Profile Send toubab1020 a Private Message
Kay & You Momodou (In my opinion !) have very valid points, time is the only arbiter to provide an accurate answer, I am totally in agreement with Kay that the interference in the WWW by google facebook twitter are only instruments to collect even more views,, information about people, their contacts, There is nothing confidential left on the internet.I have nothing to hide I here you shout,MAYBE but why on earth should all in sundry know your private business!?

"Simple is good" & I strongly dislike politics. You cannot defend the indefensible.
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Momodou



Denmark
8490 Posts

Posted - 14 Jan 2014 :  23:37:04  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message
Yes, commercials have taken over most of the functions of www. Very sad

A clear concience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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kayjatta



2969 Posts

Posted - 17 Jan 2014 :  08:26:52  Show Profile Send kayjatta a Private Message
Toubab has a point, and I totally agree but I'm left wondering what he might actually be hiding from the prying eyes of 'Uncle Sam' and the like :).
My real concern with Momodou's article though is that I am very reluctant to buy into its optimism about the impact of the new technology (mainly mobile internet devices)on the economies of developing countries (in Africa). All other factors remaining the same, technological advancement tends to expedite extraction and expropriation of resources ( material, information, etc)than actually reducing differential development (in O'Connor's words, "uneven development").
Recently I was talking to an American friend who recently visited Kenya with her African husband. She said "they have flat screen tvs in houses with mud floors". That was funny, but not very different from Dr. Senghore's argument that "the African moved into his high rise (storey) building with his mortar and pestle".
The Green Revolution of the 1960s and 70s with new crop breeding technologies brought similar enthusiasm and optimism to developing countries but that has dissipated since. Despite the WARDAs, WARIs, and NARIs, Africa remains a net food importer with critical food shortages on a yearly basis.
Globalization in information technology is likely to leave much of the developing countries behind for similar reasons. Mere consumption of these technologies - while interesting - is not the path to national development. Brazil, India, China, etc have made modest strides in an approach that may deserve another discussion...
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