[AfrICANN-discuss] Africa should just stop whining!

Vika Mpisane vika at zadna.org.za
Tue May 5 19:43:58 SAST 2009

Well stated, Rebecca!


Let’s hope we can admit this truth & pull up our socks for once.




Vika Mpisane

.za Domain Name Authority

Tel: +27 11 275 0082

Fax:+27 11 234 5022


From: africann-bounces at afrinic.net [mailto:africann-bounces at afrinic.net] On
Behalf Of Anne-Rachel Inné
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 5:38 PM
To: africann at afrinic.net
Subject: [AfrICANN-discuss] Africa should just stop whining!


Africa should just stop whining!

By Rebecca Wanjiku <http://www.computerworld.co.ke/users/rebecca-wanjiku> 
4 May, 2009 

It is considered automatic that Africa lags behind all other continents in
technology adoption. So, whenever there is an international meeting African
representatives find a story to tell; the digital divide.

It has become so bad that leaders just fail to do the right things and just
blame it on the digital divide. The government heads fail to adopt
technology and blame it on the digital divide.

Some Africa representatives attend meetings and instead of striking
collaborative deals to benefit their countries; they are busy shopping or
just filling numbers in the meeting rooms. And when you ask, they blame it
on the digital divide.

I recall there was this guy who represented his country at the Internet
Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meetings for three years,
and during the time, he did not share any outcome or notes from the meeting
with technology forums.

It was embarrassing that at one point, a senior government officer attended
one of the technology related meetings and had no clue that hi country was
represented within ICANN.

The representative had just been attending meetings and not even sharing
with the tech community or government officers on the recommendations and
outcomes of such meetings.

What would you call that? The digital divide? 

There is no doubt that there exists a gap between developing countries and
developed countries within ICANN.

This gap is specifically manifested when it comes to Africa delegates, they
hardly contribute meaningfully to the public forums. ICANN deals with the
names and numbers, the technical aspects but Africa is still grappling with
elementary issues such as access and policy issues.

For instance; when the business group is discussing issues of e-commerce and
the amount of information that should be availed online or whether the
security agents should be given such information, how does someone with no
e-commerce in their country contribute to the debate?

But does that mean that Africa has no place in international technology
meetings? Why then does Africa fail to take advantage of some of the

At a recent technology conference, Maua Daftari,Tanzania's Deputy Minister
in charge of science and technology expressed her fear that if the Conficker
worm hits Africa, it might wipe out the few steps made.

What was confusing was that I did not hear her say what Tanzania is doing to
promote use of open source technology, if the the reliance on Microsoft
products poses the danger she was quoting.

In some cases, innovative youth ventures have been stifled by uninformed
officers heading important government heads.

I recall last year, I had an interview with Laban Mwangi, one of Kenya's
most progressive and innovative techie. He shared his frustrations in trying
to convince mobile phone companies in Kenya to adopt his point of sale
gadget by selling to him airtime in wholesale, which he can then sell to
traders in remote areas through his gadget. The idea was shared with the
power and lighting company among other important service providers. 

With the gadget, Mwangi wanted people to sell airtime from any company, pay
water and electricity bills among other services. His attempts did not bear
much fruit then.

You can imagine my shock when I entered one of the corner shops in London
earlier this year and found that they use Mwangi's concept.

So, Mwangi failed to get them to adopt his technology but do not be shocked
if a few years down the line, you hear that one company has been awarded a
huge contract to supply what Mwangi would have supplied at a fraction. If we
adopted that technology last year; we would have been far by now.

So, it is clear that Africa's appreciation of young techie minds is lacking,
technocrats have specialized in attending meetings and their technology
vision is blurred and most of all; we have mastered the art of whining.

We should just get the solutions and stop that digital divide song, how come
Africa does not talk of the digital divide when it comes to military
hardware and other state-of-the art warfare gadgets?

How comes African militaries have one of the highest budgets and are quick
to adopt latest technology? Does that mean there is no digital divide in
military terms?

I think Africa should just stop whining and act!

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