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Africa Needs Computers to Save It

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There are forever arguments on why Africa is where it is today, and why it can’t catch up, or at least appear to try. I blame the level of communication technology on the continent. I have lived in South Africa for my whole life, and have seen just what a contrast exists in a mere 5km distance – contrast many non-developing country residence will truly battle to comprehend.

I often ask myself the almost rhetorical questions of how would I be able to cope without my computer, and quite simply I couldn’t, and I’m darn sure I am not the only one who would state the same. Therefore, is it a massive brainteaser for me to try and envisage not having seen, let alone touched a computer. Though this is the reality for over 550m residence in the dark continent (in the dark of computers that is).

The recent record-breaking attempt Firefox tried, only highlighted the sad situation Africa has got itself into. A mere 5% (400 000) of the 8m + downloads of version 3.0 of Firefox came from Africa, that’s compared to the over 200m that came from the USA alone. Surprisingly, and most shockingly, South Africa, which by far is Africa’s most economically developed country, accounted for only 27 000 of those 8m downloads that nearly crashed Firefox’s servers.

Africa needs computers, and with them it needs broadband. The truth behind the high prices of telecoms is due to the pure lack of infrastructure. Take South Africa for example; up until 2008, all of our bandwidth came to us from one provider, Telkom. This was a pure monopoly, skyrocketing the prices of the Internet to such an extent that only 5.1m South Africans are active Internet users out of the 45m population. At this point I think it is important to point out that this country will be hosting the worlds premier event in just two years time – the football world cup.

I think, looking at the above figures, that something drastic needs to happen, and fast to save Africa from falling off the pace of the modern world all together, which is where projects like Seacom come into play. Seacom – which is a new undersea cable that is set to be completed by 2011 into Africa – has promised to open up this rather stale market, which at present relies on only one line to connect it to the rest of the world.

There is no disputing that the Internet is one of the greatest sources of information we have at our disposal today. And with Africa’s education levels being the lowest in the world, and South African schools being rated the most dangerous in the world, we can only stand in despair at how bad of the state of the African continent’s schooling is when only 5.3% of that continent has a clue as to what the World Wide Web and Email are.

Microsoft, Google, Multichoice and numerous NGO’s from around the world are trying to come up with solutions to this crisis, though really, nothing much is being done. So what I’d like to know from you are what are your ideas, and what do you propose should get done to solve the lack of internet and computers in Africa?


Written by techran

September 3, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Industry News

Tagged with ,

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