[AfrICANN-discuss] Africa should just stop whining!

Dr Yassin Mshana ymshana2003 at gmail.com
Wed May 6 14:37:49 SAST 2009

Well done for a well researched issue.
It is a very concerning issue to those who wish to bring Africa into the
Internet based technologies and 21st Century Economies (I can distinguish
the two).

The observations made by Rebecca are an eye opener; "Why after 20 years ICT
development and especially the Internet has been perceived to be
Academic/University/ Techies activity and not given priority in development
plans as it should have been?"

It seems that the resistance/antagonism in this area of activities has been
based on the fear of the unknown: This "Digital Divide" jargon should not
have been accepted since it is (in my view) the most discouraging (and
excuse) and retardant statement of the Century (there may have been many).

I would rather call it "Public-Private Sector Divide" and instead of
"Bridging the Digital Divide" my suggestion would have been "Bridging the
Private - Public Gap". I presume the story will be different if that becomes
the current initiative (now).

Yes, there many other pressing needs to be met by the limited Time, Talent
and Budgets but encouragement and promotion of activities in this Sector is
needed - not only at meeting/ conferences and seminars as it has been...

That is my thinking - through experience.

Good luck everybody


2009/5/5 Anne-Rachel Inné <annerachel at gmail.com>

> Africa should just stop whining!
> http://www.computerworld.co.ke/articles/2009/05/04/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
> opportunities?
> 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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