Thursday, March 30, 2006

African Digerati

You only keep what you give away - sound crazy?

Let's talk about Africa - stereotyped? Certainly, we can agree on this statement. Well, try this google. 277.000.000 results?

Let's step back a minute a look at the broad strokes.

One of the qualities that developing nations must have is the ability to envision the future. Vision might seem a lofty goal compared with the hard (and sometimes, harsh) realities of of the local village or neighborhood but without vision, direction and decision-making becomes difficult. Without a view of the big picture, making even a small decision can appear to be a mountain to be climbed.

Africa is such a big and diverse place. It's a good thing to have a view for the big picture. But how does this view come together? Bottom-up? Top-down? In most African nations, the answer is obvious but technology is changing that.

$100 laptop? No.

Bono and Bill Gates? No.

IMF? Global Fund? World Bank? Jeffrey Sachs? No.

This has to be homegrown - a movement of the masses in Africa and it's starting.

It's easy for readers - and even smart commentators like Sachs - to forget how young most African nations are. Even in Ghana, the first nation to shake off colonial rule during the post-colonial last half century, many people remember the pride of independence and the pain of colonial rule. Looking to the years where people couldn't govern their own countries or move freely in their own nations, is it so hard to believe that many Africans could be profoundly hopeful, despite misrule, corruption and civil violence?

This hope can be fuelled through knowledge sharing and opportunity. We all need to be involved in the discussion but we also need to shut-up and let them get on with it.

Listen to these statements about breaking stereotypes.

Ghassan Essalehi, student, Morocco outlined personal goals from his own perspective. Download ghassan_essalehi_edit_mp3.mp3

Amri Malika, law student, Tunisia wanted to see the following taboos lifted in her country. Download amri_malika_edit_mp3.mp3

Google it and you will find several results about breaking stereotype of African music, dance, women, politics but where is the African Digerati? It's there - loud and clear - just have to look for it!

Below is a very very very short list. Do me a favor and read about Africa from the Africans. I don't agree with all that I read (even so in the Western media) but it's an interesting perspective.

But we all know that being a 'passive consumer' rather than an 'active participant' is not in the best interests of a developing nation's government or business sectors. Technological self-determination in developing countries is key to their future prosperity and is contingent on harnessing the power of this high-tech phenomenon.

But it's not about the technology in itself.

It's about how the technology is used to deliver information. A cure or a placebo? Certainly a cure if social and behavior change is the result.

The Internet user base in Africa is said to exceed 25 million with two-thirds of that access coming in from cybercafes but if the Internet is to play a significant role in the lives of Africans, much of that access has to shift to homes.

But the +400% growth in usage per year is very attractrive to the telecom monopolies and corrupt or restrictive governments.

Give them a read - it will open your minds and I hope that you share the knowledge - remember - you only keep what you give away.

2 Comments:

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12:04 AM, August 01, 2006  
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10:42 PM, August 06, 2006  

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