15
Sep
09

On air: Will high-speed internet really change Africa?

If you believe the hype, Africa is about to undergo a major digital revolution. Within the couple of months, four high-speed fibre optic cables, lain across the ocean floor, will join the continent up to the rest of the world via broadband. For a continent which has relied on satellites and dial-up, the promise of significantly cheaper and significantly faster internet connections is tantalising. But with the vast majority of the continent’s population still living in rural areas, many still without the basics of clean water and reliable electricity, how much are the much heralded connections really going to change life for the average African?
The first cable to be connected, Seacom, has already failed to live up to expectations, a month after it was officially opened simultaneously by the presidents of Tanzania and Kenya. Although the undersea cable, which hit land in Mombassa, worked perfectly, there wasn’t enough cable laid in Kenya to then spread out the benefits. (Our Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones is in Mombassa where the cable lands. Read his blog here)

WHYS is in Rwanda which boldly says it wants to become the Silicon Valley of Africa – an IT hub for the region. For a country which just fifteen years ago lost 800 000 people to genocide, and then saw two million people displaced, such bold ambitions may seem ill-founded. Rwanda is, after all, far more associated in most peoples’ mind with tragedy than innovation.

But the government here strongly believes it has no choice but to turn its country towards IT. Landlocked, with no mineral resources to speak of, the most densely populated country in Africa, the government openly says that its main resource is its people, and that’s what it has to exploit if it wants to get out of poverty.

We’ll be looking at how realistic that goal is, when entire districts still don’t have electricity, and a third of the adult population is illiterate.

And more broadly, how much can high-speed internet really change a continent? Faster downloads won’t erase corruption and terrible infrastructure… will they? Sim Shagaya, an internet entrepreneur from Nigeria who will be joining us on the programme, says that the internet will render the inefficiencies of African governments ‘irrelevent’. Hype? Or well-founded hope?


86 Responses to “On air: Will high-speed internet really change Africa?”


  1. 1 Bert
    September 16, 2009 at 01:55

    There are at least two major topics going on at the same time: (1) the technical aspect of going from a marine fiber trunk line to broadband connections where people can use them, and (2) whether that alone can solve cultural, educational, and political handicaps holding the continent back.

    Even in the US, it has proven difficult to get broadband deployed in many parts of the country. Too many “wide-open spaces.” Many have to rely on less than ideal satellite. This same problem will exist in Africa. In the US, there’s even a brand new FCC (Federal Communications Commission) initiative to deploy broadband everywhere. They’re struggling with just how to get this done, I mean from a technical and regulatory standpoint. They are supposed to report back to the White House in the not too distant future. Just ideas, mind you. Not with the problem solved.

    Africa would probably make the most of brand new 3G and 4G cellular telephone network technologies, to speed up the process. At least for the so-called “last mile.” 3G speeds in the newest systems are reaching 14.4 Mb/s today, and both 3G and 4G have paths defined for up as high as 160+ Mb/s. Very credible broadband links. But of course, you also need some sort of very fast network tying all of this together. They would probably rely on wireless also for this backhaul network. So, much will depend on how quickly these nets can be installed, and whether there will be a way to finance deployment in rural areas. Yeah, the marine trunk lines are just the beginning.

    As to the less tractable societal issues, the picture is murkier.

  2. 2 steve
    September 16, 2009 at 02:10

    I keep hearing about that the US shouldn’t fund space exploration because people are starving around the world. If people are starving in Africa, why are they worried about high speed internet connections?

    • September 16, 2009 at 19:31

      Thank you Steve. I will respond since I constitute one of the “them”! Yes we are starving down in Africa…. In fact, since I had lunch 5 hours (and tofu for that matter) so I’m pretty much famished myself.

      Anyway, to try and address your question. Yes, indeed internet connectivity would help in our access to information. Just think how our farmers or farming groups could use the internet to explore better ways to improve their yield and abate starvation/hunger etc. In fact, I was just talking to one of my fellow starving young people the other day based in a rural community (or should I say a village?). He is a very hardworking young man with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

      Anyway, this young man wants to get into fish farming and would be interested in exploring microcredit loan options from companies based in Ghana. He has no way of finding out what is available out there do to lack of access to internet. So he called me up (mobile phones are good for us too) and I did a quick search on google and found a number of possible microcredit groups he can contact in his area.

      Imagine what he can find on the internet about fish farming or even the perils of sourcing microcredit loads. He could explore markets inside and outside Ghana for his fish.

      *Imagine*

      Anyway, I have to really go because I’m pretty much ravenous now!

    • 5 Dennis Junior
      September 17, 2009 at 13:07

      You know, Steve….You are very much correct with the assessment….

      =Dennis Junior=

  3. 6 Drake Weideman
    September 16, 2009 at 02:17

    We in the US have had the Internet since its inception and I don’t know of any societal problems that have been solved by it.
    I actually believe that much of the rancor and animosity in today’s political debates in the US has been exacerbated by the Internet…specifically by allowing anonymous blog postings, individuals feel enabled to post utter nonsense which others read and believe and then repeat (such as the ‘birther’ nonsense).
    Granted it has allowed easier access to information from within the comforts of one’s home, but it has also allowed criminal types to more easily steal information from one’s home…so I feel the Internet is a mixed blessing even in the US…it is certainly no panacea for social or political or economic problems.

    As the article points out, many in Africa have no access to clean water, food, education or even basic security. so I think that a fast Internet connection will go unnoticed by most…

    • 7 Maxine
      September 18, 2009 at 12:25

      How true Drake. The ignorant and uninformed rule like never before. I agree that for many Africans the latest information in many areas must be hard to get. But what happened to books and magazines? All the knowledge is there, libraries are a great source of information., have been for decades.

  4. 8 Saad baloch, Pakistan occupied balochistan
    September 16, 2009 at 02:43

    Increasing internet connection won’t decrease the problem of continent. Money should be put in infrastructure. building schools and roads. Well educating well its people is also the responsibility of country and for this no doubt establishing connection with world and having an internet connection is essential, but this is not enough. More and more schools should be built. Universities should be equipped with modern equipments. This is not the only way towards prosperity

  5. 9 Tan Boon Tee
    September 16, 2009 at 02:59

    It will, but not for now.

    Just ensure that most of the rural poor get their basic necessities in order first.

  6. 10 Joao Mendes
    September 16, 2009 at 09:23

    there are two Africas… one who needs the high speed internet and the other one – the biggest oart – who needs food, water, sanitation and work. I don’t think that high speed internet or even internet will afect or even will be good for the majority of our citizens.

    • September 17, 2009 at 14:51

      Those who can use the internet if they helped the others with that advantage of knowledge it wouldn’t be bad. After all it would be cheaper than other communication and knowledge infrastructure. But on the other hand it could be used to take advantage of the illiterate.

      • 12 Charles Massaquoi
        February 1, 2010 at 07:21

        The internet can be the best instrument and even the cheapest way to banish illetracy from the continent of Africa for good. There is so much free stuff on the net even to benefit university students. If people in the remotest parts of Africa can see what other socities look like and what others are doing in other parts of the universe thru the lens of the internet, the start to think and develop ideas. Nothing will frighten the rascals we have in power more than the internet. You expose people to the internet and watch the level of agitation for change. I want the internet for our people. I don’t know of anwhere in this world where the internet is not useful. To deny our people access to this wonderful resource is to commit the most unspeakable crime against them. I would like to suggest that African countries assemble most of its engineers and scientiests to solve the problems facing the continent relative electricity water and the internet. Nigeria alone is boastful of thousands of engineers in all fields of engineering. Today, we are witnessing the unbelievable development taking place in Asia-to name just two nations: China and India. Why is that our scientists and engineers find it so hard to come up with simple inventions that will benefit our people. Why is it for now, we can’t have satellites providing internet services that will cover the entire continent. Yes, it will be expensive, but so what.

  7. 13 Roberto
    September 16, 2009 at 10:20

    RE “” Will high-speed internet really change Africa? “”
    —————————————————————————

    ——– Africans will find a way to hijack it, butcher it, and resell it at outrageous prices.

    Bad news is that Africa is at least decades if not centuries from any kind of equitable economy or democracy.

    Good news is that as we speak, the future African revolutionary visionaries who will spark the changes may be busy playing with other children between learning their lessons.

  8. 14 anu_d
    September 16, 2009 at 10:33

    NO.

    The economies, business and growth in Africa is dilipidated not for the want of high speed internet.

    But in fact the high speed internet hasn’t made it’s way because the economy & business didn;t need it.

    Internet is not a engine to drive growth….but a mere tool to make things more efficient.

    Nothing that is significant in the big scheme of things….will change

    • 15 BlackMambo
      November 1, 2009 at 23:24

      who says the economy and business didnt need it?? Is India running its booming call centres and outsourcing business on dial-up connections??

  9. 16 Audrius Kviliunas
    September 16, 2009 at 10:47

    Yes theese cables with high speed internetis big event in Afrika development.But there are two things which I want mention.This internet is cheaper when there are big urbanization then those cables will be more shorter but in Afrika is lowest urbanization percentage especially in Uganda and Ethiopia-and it can be mentioned as absurd when in some towns for examle in Uganda capital Kampala poor peoples are forcible evicted.Second thing in towns or densly populated rural regions theese countries can develop WIMAX technology creating new modern and effective nets-all problem is low urbanization.

  10. 18 philemon kibiwott
    September 16, 2009 at 11:26

    Definitely, us in Kenya have realized the potential already,Kenyans are going for degrees with universities outside Kenya via internet ,people can be able to stream live videos and information of all sorts,outsourcing of services in Kenya is taking shape,the speed is like no other, it is unbelievable,the economy is picking up and what Kenyans are saying to Africa and the world is that come and invest in Kenya .I believe with the highest computer literacy in Kenya the internet will revolutionize Kenya.For example mobile banking in Kenya is the order of the day.Kenyans are moving in speed in everything,soon they expect Kenyan government to launch the construction of high speed railway which is going to change Kenya completely. Energy sector is being improved to match with the economic growth which is expected to start growing.We urge BBC to encourage investors to come to Kenya.With the current coalition government in place we are optimistic that we are heading the right direction after years of corruption,loothing,injustices,and all sorts of bad things.Kenyans are inspired by Obamas Victory that if he can make it why not us redeem kenya from poverty.Kenyans can make it with BBC as a partner,Bravo BBC for the work you are doing keep it up.

  11. 19 vijay pillai
    September 16, 2009 at 11:28

    There is no doubt about it. it was a matter of time that many africans in the west making money as well as contribute their expertise in business and internet via so many intenet cafe’s set up similar outlets and make africa part of united internet world community of nations.I hope similar ventures in may part of asia and latin america as well to be a truely connetected world at the finger tip..

  12. 21 Dennis Junior
    September 16, 2009 at 12:09

    I hope it does really changed Africa, with the introduction of High-Speed Internet…..But, I have my doubts…

    =Dennis Junior=

  13. September 16, 2009 at 13:05

    The main problem will not be the bulk capacity that will reach the shores of African nations, but the last mile to the cities, towns and villages.

    There is not sufficient infrastructure in most countries to bring the glut of capacity to the masses.

    Also – many of the countries did not subscribe to the SAT3 cable – what will these same countries do with regard to new optic fibres passing their shores?Will they buy in?

    I don’t believe the changes will be immediate. Large corporations and those who can pay will benefit – like with most things. The rural schools who need the access the most are still years away…

  14. 23 patti in cape coral
    September 16, 2009 at 13:14

    I think it’s very exciting news, but will it change Africa? I don’t know. If it has any chance of doing so, it will take a long time.

  15. 24 scmehta
    September 16, 2009 at 14:00

    It sure can help them a lot if they interact with each other usefully and concernedly; that way, it’ll help them to cooperate and coordinate in their efforts to understand and solve each others problems, wherever they can, without any waste of time. Of course, there are numerous other benefits which can positively and directly/indirectly contribute in shaping a better society.

  16. September 16, 2009 at 14:06

    A good write up by Sim Shagaya. I listened to BBC.WS. a couple of nights ago, and Kenyans were very eager for broadband. I think some looked on it as a cure all,which it is not. But it is an open window on the world for news and information,which cannot be a bad thing,for a discriminating person.Rural areas are still years away,but then mobile phones outnumber landlines so information can be passed on,I’m sure there are mobile phones in a lot of rural areas. It won’t stop corruption and injustice,but it can highlight it.I think the answer to the question is a big yes.

  17. 26 Dave in Florida
    September 16, 2009 at 14:09

    Access to high speed internet would help the large companies with their efficiency; however, it will not even make a blip on the radar as far as solving the continent’s problems.

    Corruption is so devastatingly ingrained into all aspects of Africa’s governments’ and business environments that it is doubtful any high speed internet project would ever begin in the first place.

  18. September 16, 2009 at 14:49

    Hi-speed internet is just a tool for development needed for Africa among many other things to lift off. It also depends on how it should be used. In many countries there is alarm about the internet if it is used out of control, mainly among teenagers.

    In any country it isn’t enough to build schools and libraries to spread knowledge. There is also the need for trained staff to deliver good education and lucid policies for economic and social prosperity. Today, computers have become cheap. Anyone can get them, but not anyone can get the right education and not all governments can have the right policies. For Africa, the danger is when the internet becomes just a pastime for chatting and emailing in addition to watching TV.

  19. 28 Patrice
    September 16, 2009 at 15:09

    My name is Patrice Howard. I’m a Political Scientist whose current research focuses on Senegal in West Africa. I’m just about up to my head with the broadcasters’ remarks on Africa.

    The story on the internet was about KENYA. Why did the reporters need to say, “Will this change all of Africa?” After a third long term (6-month) stay in Senegal I have to tell you that many, many people have internet in their homes both in the capital and in the countryside. I was able to get to an internet cafe, several times a day for less than 50 cents an hour. When the electricity posed a problem, I knew of several internet cafes with generators that I could use. I also found this to be the case in Gambia.

    The young woman who interviewed the software company owner in Rwanda opened the interview by saying, “I’m sure many people would be surprised to learn that there is a software company in Africa, mush less internet connection.”
    I was so hoping that the company owner would’ve responded by saying, “Why? Why are people surprised that there are software companies and internet service in Africa. If they are surprised they should really be changing their ideas about KENYA, NIGERIA and Africa.”

    Please stop making blanket statements about Africa!!!!
    If you are doing a focus on a particular country , then restrict your analysis (and speech) to that country and the implications it MAY have for the greater region.
    Africa is a CONTINENT full of diverse countries with vibrant cities with most of the amenities one can find in other countries and cities I’ve visited, including, London, Portsmouth, and Manchester.

    Thank you for your consideration of my comments.
    Patrice

    • September 16, 2009 at 16:12

      That is an excellent point,Patrice.

      • 30 Patrice
        September 16, 2009 at 17:23

        Thank you David for your recognition.
        Unfortunately, the individuals who commented after my post, including some Africans, still view this issue from a continent wide perspective, as a new, life-saving phenomenon.

        Again, the story focused on a development in KENYA and went on to include some examples in RWANDA and NIGERIA. A terribly small portion of the number of countries in Africa.

        The internet in African countries is not so new and I wish people, even Africans, were generally more informed about countries and cities on the continent. For example, in many universities in Africa, students have free and open access to the internet in all dorm rooms. Sometimes this service isn’t reliable but it is definitely in place. I’m at a prestigious university in the United States and WE often have glitches and snafoos with our ISP’s.

        I would really like for the BBC and other news service broadcasters to provide information that changes individuals conceptions of Africa rather than promoting propoganda and long-standing, ill-informed mental images.

        Patrice

    • September 17, 2009 at 15:04

      You don’t have to be thankful for your comments being printed without being paid for your effort.

  20. September 16, 2009 at 16:09

    High-speed Internet connectivity is an essential pillar for any region to succeed in the 21st century. Residents and businesses in Africa will benefit immensely by this, now able to participate in the latest offerings, especially as “cloud” computing continues to evolve. Students in Africa will have access to the same information that everyone else has. African businesses can offer goods and services more broadly to not just their local populations, but also the world. I see this as only a plus.

  21. September 16, 2009 at 16:19

    The internet is the electronic window to the world. High speed communication of ideas is a good thing as it ensures positive change. Knowledge definitely empowers people and is the best way to get them out of poverty. Africa has been steeped in poverty for decades. The internet and new technology will be one way to open people’s minds and be more receptive to new ideas. The human potential is there in Africa. The internet will be the ideal tool for them to succeed after years of misery. There is a new dawn for Africa.

  22. 34 surender pal in india
    September 16, 2009 at 16:34

    it definitly helped India’s IT and BPO industry in particular. I am certain that same would happen to africa.

  23. 36 Tom K in Mpls
    September 16, 2009 at 16:36

    Developing infrastructure obviously always matters. If it were limited to only the government and a few corporations, no. But this is available to many.

  24. 37 MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR
    September 16, 2009 at 16:42

    High speed internet connection or high speed poverty. To us in africa, majority of us do not even know the full meaning of WWW or how it can effect their life simply becouse of the high speed poverty. We can not say it does not have any benefits to us now. But it would better when electricity is enriched, agriculture is revitalised so that the speed of poverty can be curtailed with the high speed internet connections.

  25. 38 MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR
    September 16, 2009 at 17:01

    I want to make futher clarification on the comments made by a reader from kenya (philimon kibwot) although i am not a kenyan by citizen, but i am a fellow African. It was not more than 48hrs ago that we experianced ethnic clashes in kenya. I believe more africans including kenyans are dying of poverty, diseases and other social problems, tell us which among the 2 we need most to address our problems.

    • 39 Charles Massaquoi
      February 1, 2010 at 07:57

      Amongst the instruments you will deploy to fight illetracy, disease and other social ills, the internet will be the leader. The automobile has contributed to the deaths of millions of people, but no one has denied it usefulness and no one has stopped mankind from using it. Even the illetrate drives. I certainly believe the WWW will terrorize the politician and the criminal gangs that run the Civil Service in most African countries. I sincerely believe that the internet has the capacity to reduce, if not barnish illetracy from the continent, bring about social interactions amongst our people. I got to know recently that the Prime Minister of Britain asked this question: “who are these Zulus, who are these great people that converted our Bishops and almost destroyed a dynasty.” I was filled with pride, when I read that and it happened on the internet. This medium, which is benefitting a hugh portion of the human race, should not be denied our people. It can help farmers, market women and even those we might consider downtrodden. Bear in mind that there are a lot of Africans currently using the internet. If it’s good for Gbartongor, it is good for Gbedemah.

  26. 40 Julia in Portland
    September 16, 2009 at 17:04

    The access to broadband and all it entails – good and bad – serve as a resource for education. I don’t see how this opportunity can do anything but lead to better education, which equates into more knowledge, which helps make better and more business opportunities, added benefits to agriculture, government and health care.

    It is not ideal or perfect in anyway……but knowledge is power.

  27. 41 Julia in Portland
    September 16, 2009 at 18:12

    I wonder if there are any fears with the people in Kigali that the internet will have a negative impact on their society?

  28. 42 STEPHEN /PORTLAND
    September 16, 2009 at 18:21

    All you seem to get out of the African continent on the Web is Scam e-mails, Identity theft and fraud vehicles for sale, that’s my experience.

    • September 16, 2009 at 19:50

      Sorry to hear that your interactions with Africans on the internet have revolved around scam emails, identity theft etc. However, I would encourage you to check out what Africans blog about to get a different perspective.
      There is a website that aggregates SOME of the blogs from across the continent of Africa (http://afrigator.com/ ).

      • 44 Tom K in Mpls
        September 17, 2009 at 17:33

        Abna, I have a friend that was using MyYearbook and one or two other lesser known social sites. He found and showed me the number of women contacting him. It was about eight a day. Most were from Ghana. They said they were local to him. Then they would make promises and ask for security and financial info. He is white. When he pushed for more info from the black women contacting him, virtually all were from Ghana.

        If you want to verify this, simply create a bogus account stating you are an American man and see what happens.

  29. 45 T
    September 16, 2009 at 18:30

    I have a question. What kind of govt. control will there be over content in many of these African countries?

  30. 46 patti in cape coral
    September 16, 2009 at 18:30

    I have just been looking at your photostream, and Kigali, Rwanda looks so much like my parent’s home town in Barranquilla that I got all choked up and homesick. I agree with Nora that this is really a dynamic story. I love the ICT bus idea, a stroke of genius!

  31. 47 KC
    September 16, 2009 at 18:32

    I am surprised that broadband in Africa is causing such a hype by the BBC, you would think that malaria has been eradicated for good. Anyway since we are on the subject;
    I think it’s good that the high speed internet is coming to Africa but it will take a lot longer to get the entire population connected.
    I also believe that the following problems need to be overcome:

    1. Access: Very few people in Africa have access to computers which is the machine the internet was built for. Currently mobile phones are the pervasive communications device and even though these may have internet capability, i wouldn’t want to surf the net on their tiny display screens. The problem could be solved with internet cafes.
    2. Price: It’s no secret that a substantial number of Africans leave on less than 1 dollar per day. Considering the opportunity cost of buying food to using the internet it’s only logical to choose the former. Broadband is not cheap!!!
    3. Loss of freedom: The internet has made sure that governments can now spy on their citizens 24/7. With the current boosts in speed and the interest generated, am sure that African governments will now be able to spy more easily on its digital citizens. And lets not forget the MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE will be grinning at the possibility of including more people in its scope

    Finally, I think that eventually the same social problems that occur in digitized societies are about to be faced by the new internet citizens.

  32. September 16, 2009 at 18:32

    Great topic.

    I just wanted to tell you about Samasource (http://samasource.org/). We’re a nonprofit organization that connects women, refugees, and youth (under 30) in Africa and Asia to dignified, computer-based work. We work with local organizations, generally small nonprofits, in poverty-stricken areas and connect their workers with work. Our model of providing jobs, however, is based on technological infrastructure. The local organizations who are our Service Partners must have this type of infrastructure — computers, electricity, connectivity — in order for us to be able to work with them. The new lines will decrease costs an increase our ability to reach workers in Africa with work that can be done remotely (e.g. data management, video transcription, application testing).

  33. September 16, 2009 at 18:34

    Much of the innovation behind mHealth, or the delivery of healthcare support and services via mobile devices, is coming from Africa with leadership from a handful of countries that includes Rwanda.

    It’s clear that Africans already are using technology and connectivity to change Africa – high-speed internet can certainly help further this process.

    More information about mHealth in Rwanda can be found on this ZDNet blog:

    http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,10012734o-2000581318b,00.htm

    And in this recent post in UN Dispatch describes how Kenyans are using mHealth to help stop a polio outbreak:

    http://www.undispatch.com/node/8875

  34. 50 Tom K in Mpls
    September 16, 2009 at 18:40

    Question, why wouldn’t you take any improvement you can get, when it is available? Yes there will always be a case when something else can help more. But would you deny a needed service when you can get it?

  35. 54 Carole in OR
    September 16, 2009 at 18:46

    The internet is not the solution, but it is a valuable tool that will ease and pomote education and growth where available. Africa has a unique opportunity to learn from the west’s mistakes, and still grow business and ingenuity.

  36. 55 Martins
    September 16, 2009 at 19:00

    Hello,

    I really think this fiber optic cable is a revolution. In this country, it’s being little progress as regards broadband internet services except in few main cities. I have been using broadband services for quite long, though the services are good, but some companies involved always over-hype their internet capability offering in terms of bandwidth.

    Dial-up has always and remains available, but quite miserable for real-time internet activities. VSAT remains the only option for many areas. But as for braodband, ISPs are springing up, even telcos are now offering internet services along with voice services and that means internet access wherever the telco has network services coverage.

    Recently GLO Mobile, and indigeneous telco in Nigeria started laying their own fiber from Lagos to London, and that I believe is even more revolutionary, with great business potential.

  37. 56 Michelle from Jamaica
    September 16, 2009 at 21:12

    Hving the technology is great, but to what use will it be put? Who will control it? Who will have access it? There is a vast amount of information on the internet, but if you can’t read how does it help you? Unfortunately Africa has a history of corruption and exploitation. This new technology need to be regulated and monitored, to ensure that as best as possible the average person will benefit form it.

  38. 57 Yasmine
    September 16, 2009 at 21:20

    well, I guess it depends on what it’ll reveal. Will the people be exicted about it?will it bring economic growth by opening more cafes etc. Connection to the internet will not change a country or a person if he or she is not willing to change. Yes it will bring bigger picture of understanding the world so we’ll have to wait and see what the people are going to do.

  39. 58 Dawit
    September 16, 2009 at 21:43

    Africa will not change, as dictators will not allow it to change. For example, in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian dictator has a cmplete grip on Internet, telephone, and all sorts of communication. He sees Internet as a threat to his control of power.

    So in order to change Africa, you have to change governments with that mentality.

    Dawit

  40. September 16, 2009 at 22:29

    Hi Patrice and David – It is true that Africa is a diverse continet but the fact remains that the digital divide applies to the whole continent, in one degree or another, and not one African country has bridged that divide to date.

    Hence it is safe to look at Internet’s impact across the continent. It still remains that people in rural areas – in all sub Saharan African countries have little access to Internet. This is due to lack of availability, price barriers and lack of education.

    I think you will agree that this applies even to countries like Senegal.

    I live in Ghana and Accra the capital is quite saturated with Internet access, via a network of ISPs – however just an hour out of town there are villages without power or running water….

  41. 60 SKASSAM
    September 17, 2009 at 00:33

    Its all well and good to have the high speedinternet connexion etc BUT why not first fix the power cuts which are so prevalent in Africa.
    Maybe someone has resolved that problem

  42. 61 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2009 at 00:35

    This was an interesting show. I just listened. I did not know anything about most of what was talked about. Thanks to all.

  43. 62 Tom D Ford
    September 17, 2009 at 01:16

    As to literacy being required to use the net, if you can get access to the kids, I’d bet they will learn how to use it far quicker than any adults will, they’ll educate themselves, some will just social network but some will do great things.

  44. September 17, 2009 at 03:20

    African people need basic stuffs like water, sanitation, food etc more than INTERNET.

  45. 64 Toran Pandit
    September 17, 2009 at 04:21

    No. I don’t agree with the statement. Because in Africa the most important problems are civil war, poverty and starvation. High speed internet cannot provide the people of Africa those three things. So before High Speed Internet, there should be found a solution for all the above mentioned things. Then the High Speed Internet matters, otherwise not.

  46. 65 Tambe Ebai Norbert
    September 17, 2009 at 05:19

    High Speed or Broad band internet is a positive step towards information distribution in Africa. AT times too much information is very difficult to handle. I pray Africans seize this opportunity and start being creative. However, why just East Africa? Once more, this shows that our French Colonies( especially West African Colonies) and lagging behind but Fast Developing in Civil or National Dispute! Why?

  47. 66 Justin Durueke
    September 17, 2009 at 06:28

    The internet is among the wonderful inventions of our time. The world is in a globalizing stage and the internet plays an important role in the globalization process. The internet is used for so many things like communication, news, television, research, weather forecasting and so many others. African countries have not been able to reap the gains of this amazing invention. Attempts to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to the masses have made little headway on the continent. Less than 4 percent of Africa’s population is connected to the Web; most subscribers are in North African countries and the republic of South Africa. A lack of infrastructure is the biggest problem. In many countries, communications networks were destroyed during years of civil conflict, and continuing political instability deters governments or companies from investing in new systems. E-mail messages and phone calls sent from some African countries have to be routed through Britain, or even the United States, increasing expenses and delivery times. About 75 percent of African Internet traffic is routed this way and costs African countries billions of extra dollars each year that they would not incur if their infrastructure was up to speed. While the Western world is in the era of WiFi, Blue-ray technology, High Definition, Web 2.0, Bluetooth technology, Africa is suffering from lack of computers in schools, hospitals, libraries and most homes. The economic state of Africa will not help Africa’s drive to wireless internet connection.

  48. September 17, 2009 at 09:05

    Definately yes..COMPANIES SUCH AS BBC WILL USE THIS TECHNOLOGY TO REACH MILLIONS OF AFRICANS THROUGH THE RADIO OR TV AT SHORT TIMES..but i only complain that the fibre cable to east africa used a long route through the coasts instead of making a short through kinshasa,uganda upto kenya.

    TV,HAMISI,VIHIGA,KENYA.

  49. 68 emmanuel
    September 17, 2009 at 09:18

    this a new and wonderful idea for africa. it will probably bring africa into limelite, but with corruption allover the continent it might not be so successful.

  50. 69 emmax
    September 17, 2009 at 09:26

    the high speed broadband cable will indeed connect africa to the world but for efficient and adequate distribution and use there is the need for competition among operators to bring out the best in services provided.

  51. 70 osuagwu
    September 17, 2009 at 10:23

    High speed internet could be regarded as one of the necessary infrastructure for dvevlopment in the digital world. So the high speed internet can help the transformation of Africa. But it can not do the magic alone. Other necessary infractructure such as good transport network ,regular electricity and water, and good communication must be provided. Other necessary conditions to kick start rapid growth such as educated manpower,healthy population ,political stability , good nutrition and urbanization and industrilization must be put in place for the transformation of Africa.

  52. 71 anu_d
    September 17, 2009 at 11:12

    @ Patrice

    ==>>Well said

  53. 72 bjay
    September 17, 2009 at 13:48

    Will high-speed internet really change Africa?

    Ye !
    First let them invent the ‘wheal'{in, the figurative sense, but of course},
    then we will talk about it.

    bjay

  54. 73 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    September 17, 2009 at 14:08

    African problems are not technological!

    • 74 osuagwu
      September 17, 2009 at 19:23

      You failed to specify what African problem is. Does African problem(s) not have a name(s) or would it be lethel to stare thew problem at the face ?

      • 75 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
        September 18, 2009 at 15:10

        @)suagu

        You said that i failed to specified the problems,yes.Will dictatorship be solve in computers? just one thing to mention but few.I dont want expose Africa much since its my continent,

  55. September 17, 2009 at 15:41

    I can’t say about Africa, never having been there. But if it’s anything like India, it will make no difference whatsoever, other than multiplying the already prevalent inefficiency. Firstly the other infrastructure required for its function like power and telephone cabling is deplorable. Where ever there are computers e.g. in the internet café’s etc the younger generation uses them only to play idiotic games and waste their time. They don’t have the command of English required to browse and use the net. Most of the national and local websites especially the govt. ones are more confusing than informative. Because like all the technicians employed, the programmers are not even literate forget educated or trained. It is only in India that it takes more time to do anything with a computer than without one. What can you expect in a country where there are more TV’s that water taps and toilets?

    • 77 Tom K in Mpls
      September 17, 2009 at 19:38

      Yet most people seem to think life in India is much better than life in Africa. As for language, there are many options for those that care. including international sites adding a Rwandan home, page translators as we have already seen, or local services alone would make it worthwhile. Like another poster, you think of this like a consumer, not a governor, foreman or general.

      • September 17, 2009 at 22:11

        You are right I couldn’t be any of those characters you define. The best medium of communication in the developing world in recent years has proved itself to be the mobile telephone, since it is independent of surface infrastructure and does not require literacy besides one’s own tongue for its basic use. Having said that, it was communication that also brought unnecessary changes to the third world in the shape of foreign religions, cultures and languages. I.e. the tools of confusion, manipulation and exploitation.

    • 79 Tom K in Mpls
      September 18, 2009 at 17:30

      It is a sad fact of life that any tool/device/system will be used for good and bad. In the US, cars are used a large percentage of crimes. Would you make cars illegal?

      Also, most mobile phones in the world are digital. In other words, they use the same infrastructure as the internet. In the near future you will see that as one grows, so does the other. And as a hopeful point, communications enables more government accountability and better law enforcement. What matters most is how the community chooses to use it.

  56. September 17, 2009 at 18:56

    In response to Caroline, the irresponsibility is our support of Israel, an affluent nation continuously oppressing another people and violating international law, which receives more foreign aid than all of sub-Saharan Africa.

  57. 81 Charles Massaquoi
    September 18, 2009 at 00:40

    Anyone who advises against Africa having Internet capabilities is a mortal enemy.
    The industrial revolution passed by the Africans as evidenced by our backwardness. We can’t afford to watch this essential resource elude us. Every African needs the internet. I would rather we have it with all its fault than not. A system that can allow a Medical Practitioner to look into the bowels of patients, help diagnose problems and prescribe cures, a system that can allow you to view the outer-reaches of the stratosphere or the depths of the oceans from thousands of miles, is as indispenable as the air we breath. Please witness it before you die. I am glad to be alive. This is why I believe in Science and not in GOD

  58. September 18, 2009 at 10:07

    Are people in London asked to relate their speach to the authorities before they climb the tea box at the speakers corner?

  59. September 19, 2009 at 13:16

    Yes. If past trends are the compass, then Africa will become impoverished faster with the internet.

  60. October 21, 2009 at 22:21

    Nice article as for me. I’d like to read a bit more concerning that matter.

  61. February 2, 2010 at 15:44

    Internet in Africa can only contribute to employment and drastically reduce poverty in general. In the western world where internet is not luxury, unemployed individuals transact businesses vie eBay and other websites through internet. With the help of internet any African man can be informed about what is going on anywhere around the world.
    Internet services in Africa will eradicate illiteracy and poverty. When people are informed they are more likely to be ok financially.


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