[AfrICANN-discuss] Great African Singularities

Anne-Rachel Inné annerachel at gmail.com
Tue Jun 8 11:26:45 SAST 2010

Great African Singularities

June 4, 2010 | [image: Email This
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The singularity is defined by futurist Ray
being the point at which technological advancement exceeds human
to control and fully understand it. It’s the point where artificial
intelligence and replication converge and machines can strategically produce
other machines without human direction. Movies like TERMINATOR and THE
MATRIX are all about the horrible ways such a scenario might play out.

This post is about a different singularity. A point at which technology,
progress, wealth and modern advancement converge without the inclusion of an
entire continent of nearly 1 billion people, with no discernible
disadvantages. This scenario is also difficult to understand and hard to

In this scenario, companies also often fail to represent people from the
continent in their staff. Boardrooms across the world forget to mention
market strategies aimed at engaging the continent’s consumers. I could tell
you we hit this singularity over two decades ago but instead let’s look at
the websites of a handful of leading technology companies, the corporations
who are literally shaping our collective futures…

Yahoo! is among the most popular destinations to visit on the African
continent. The image below is from their international page, where they
showcase how they target viewers by region. Hrmm…looks like they covered all
their bases…


Google has country offices all over the world. I know for a fact they
operate staffed offices in Kenya and South Africa. And to be fair they’ve
got an intensely involved philanthropic arm here. But on their corporate
website? Hrmm…odd.

It’s hard to believe a company that lives on numbers would make such an
obvious mistake, so we’ll have to assume they have their reasons.
Nonetheless, since they actually do have African offices I’m not sure what
message this sends the Google Kenya or Uganda teams. At least they didn’t


Hrmm… which flag to I click for Kenya? Nigeria? Cairo? or South Africa?


Facebook is both the fastest growing internet destination and social network
across Africa. They’re in the midst of a global expansion, specifically
targeting BOP markets with apps like Facebook Zero. They have several
positions open: India, Singapore, Dublin, Brazil, London and Austin, TX.
There’s actually a couple missing pieces here: the Middle East, Australia
and of course…

We can chalk this one up to Facebook’s being a young company. Although they
claim half the users of the entire internet (500 million), this absolutely
tells you where they see potential growth and markets worth chasing. A
longer list of job opportunities with Facebook’s internationalization

Salesforce is a cloud enterprise platform that makes doing business easier.
They pride themselves on their international sites. In fact, they’ve got an
international site for every continent in the world accept Antarctica and…

Sony and Oracle

Two more power houses. One basically tells you to learn Arabic if you live
in Africa, the other has something called “Africa Operations”. Sounds very
Jack Bauer, Oracle. An indicator for a systematic, innovative approach,
perhaps? Unfortunately not, clicking on that link takes you a site that has
information that’s in no way different from their other sites.

Hey Africans, Oracle has an important message for you:


In my opinion, the reasons behind these oversights don’t matter at
The reality is these choices aren’t aren’t actually putting any of these
companies at a disadvantage. What matters to me is the greater implication
of the scenario that’s playing out. The fact that these companies can rest
comfortably as some of the biggest companies that history has ever known
with little input from Africa paints a bleak future. The fact of the matter
is, if one sixth the planet is being shut out of controlling or, in any
meaningful way, contributing to the technologies and tools that are
re-defining the future of the human race. Then they are in-turn being shut
out of the future. It’s not systematic, it’s not organized; it’s happening
without anyone even noticing. It’s indeed the road to technology

This is something that should scare the *shit* out of Africa. It should
either motivate you to a point of unrelenting excellence and tenacity, or it
should make you a ludite who deliberately refuses to embrace a changing
world. It’s a choice. However, the business world (and in this case tech
companies) need to be constantly reminded that they need you with cold hard
facts. There are no other arguments. Show them the numbers, the patents, the
inventions, the talent, the enthusiasm, the courage…the success stories.
Don’t open your mouth tell anyone anything or ask them for anything ever
again…*show them*.

The only way to overcome irrelevance is to do things that unequivocally
matter. Things that people couldn’t ignore even if they wanted to. Things
like building a
an education or so much as even a toy replica; with only passion and
imagination. Things like subverting an oppressive government and violent
political parties <http://ushahidi.com/>. Doing things, versus reminding
everyone around you how unfair it is for you in comparison to everyone else.

Stop waiting for someone to tell you you’re the Next
Einstein<http://www.nexteinstein.org/>and go out there and prove it.
You have two choices, do something or do
nothing. There is no in between. Decisions are binary.

Photo by: Nobodysukey<http://www.flickr.com/photos/nobodyzsukey/1867689466/>
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