AFRICA; THE SLEEPING CONTINENT ON THE RISE OR NOT (A REFLECTION ON REALITY)
Africa is sometimes referred to as the “cradle of humanity”. Whether true or not, but it is a growing giant. Whilst there has been reports from OECD of booming economies. The internet is quite at a standstill. Ok let us accept that the east side of Africa has a high transit capability. We still need a growth potential for the people that lives all over the continent. We can discuss all sorts of policies. My worry remains in the fact that Africa is treated as the biggest cradle of spam and all sorts of internet issues we can treat Africa with. Nigeria, Cameroon and so many other countries. Whilst some government agencies treat Africa to its worst. They omit talking about the biggest scam areas of the world which includes south America, china, Russia and many other countries. Do we know where the bulletproof hosting are staged?
Africa has traffic but may just be the tip of the iceberg. Africa cannot be treated as the only continent whilst it is still a growing continent. Just look at the most dangerous traffic of the internet. We have to be blunt it is part of the pie. Why is it that Africa is treated to the table as the top most problematic continent?
Well the continent is a problem for sure as any other areas of the world. The issue stands behind the web proxy and so on. Most of the blacklisted IPs are Africa as well as Asia and some South American countries. Let us be honest, these are also some of the poorest countries or regions as well. When it comes to innovation and getting best at what they can. The alternative is none for survival and it suits some of the governments to turn a blind eye as far as money is coming in the country. This also contributes to people getting a better life, be it bad or good. Since the same governments can do nothing! Well actually they can but politicians just live off well far better that way.
What is the benefit of the developed countries in comparison to third world countries. Well simple as far as we can keep people under tabs we can make more money. Well how, you ask?
Simply, Africa has around 40% of world’s resources and around 60% of potential Agricultural land for development that could feed the world. The 40% resources, goes from oil to precious metals to anything that the planet needs.
What and where does policy stand in it? Whilst I believe strongly that this continent can make a difference on different grounds and the land mass available and the technology can be brought in to help in developing the people all the way across. We still fight to be at the forefront or who is going to be at the lead. Life is not always about competition but about cooperation and working together to achieve a common goal.
The upheaval coming of the internet brings just that common goal. In fact it is and has a medium to connect us all together and an open connection and medium to express ourselves very openly. It does not look at colour, culture, language. I would say the Internet turns out to be the same colour as our blood. It is the same for all people around the globe as much as many living beings.
The internet needs that open end while being cordial to our neighbours but has been the very root for such lightning changes and growth in knowledge and sharing over the past decade. The internet has been able to bring communication closer and cheaper as well as bringing knowledge closer. Which has heavily contributed to a sudden gap of knowledge being brought down. We are all more knowledgeable today than a decade or two before.
To me it is more than clear that many of the next billion Internet users will come from Africa. It is just growing at a frightening speed as well as a slow taking off. But we need to admit that the digital divide is starting to topple off the mobile smartphones and the speed is growing at a lightning speed. The reality is with 4G the speed is faster than copper and even better than the fibre installations. With the upcoming 5G, I can but let people decide and see what will happen over the next decade. Cheap technology is what is needed. But we should never forget that we need to also ensure that we are also careful and ensure good usage of something impossible to date.
The mobile-payment revolution is just one example of how technological advances combined with new business models can pole-vault African countries to higher levels of economic and social development. Expanding Internet access also promises higher levels of local competitiveness in the global marketplace, while promising to provide higher levels of accountability and transparency across sectors. But this leap forward hinges not only on the expansion of Internet infrastructure and the correct calibration of Africa’s regulatory environment to maximize how the network is used, but also on skill development and support to local technology innovation. Abundant Internet adoption is contingent upon government, businesses, technical experts and civil society being engaged with Internet governance.
Governments with all stakeholders need to have a staged approach to policy and learn from the developed countries. We should not jump to another stage without understanding Risks and Impacts but learn, understand and take cognizance of realities and look at brighter goals as one people.
Creating an appropriate regulatory environment so that the Internet has its best possible effects requires that special attention be paid to local initiatives. This is because development itself is inherently a bottom-up process. As a result, in the context of development in Africa, if one wants to know how countries can succeed at leveraging the Internet for development, they need to look at what Africans are doing to help themselves.
Ghana and other African countries, such as Kenya, are taking and have taken a lead in this space.
Ghana’s interbank-payment platform has helped streamline the country’s banking sector, making it easier for people to make and receive payments through a virtual system. Such a simple measure, often taken for granted by people in the West, has a huge economic effect on the ability of Ghanaians to conduct commerce. Development will follow.
Development also cannot be separated from security. As in, if digital payment systems are to be widely used, they need to be secure. Ghanaians are also at the forefront of IT security in the West African region. A secure Internet will encourage use by everyday Africans, unleashing the generative potential of the system. The innovative uses of the Internet that millions of Africans might locally develop once secure access is obtained will be overwhelming.
The bigger forces such as the civil society groups are also monitoring the state of network freedom, ensuring that as the Internet expands in Africa, it does so in a way that preserves the founding principles of the network, particularly openness, permissionless innovation, and the free flow of information and ideas.
The Internet Society, plays a crucially important role in the multistakeholder governance of the Internet, is actively working to build local Internet governance capacity. These efforts is only beginning to bear fruit and will help to ensure that Africans can play a larger role in the Internet-governance decisions that directly affect them.
The Internet has huge development potential and must be recognized as one of the primary tools in the development agenda toolkit. Examples of best practices for how the Internet is going to help secure development can help guide the way, but they can only be seen by moving away from the abstract conversations in New York and Geneva and focusing instead on what individuals in developing countries are actually doing to help themselves. Development can only come from the bottom up.
Broader frameworks for governance of development and the Internet should be devised to enable local initiatives, but the impetus for exactly how things should be done must come from those in the developing world.
We need to see more Innovation Hubs to help the youth grow in their ideas, be it technology or agricultural focused. The growing number of people over the planet needs more food and the land masses in Africa can contribute to that challenge easily if they were helped to do so and see the feasibility of growing in the desert as in any harsh environment.
That can only be further achieved by having E-Learning platforms that would help the people better. The businesses is not always in setting a retail shop but we need to agree that as much as technology is important. People need food to survive and so much is possible to be developed. So much more is achievable but yet let us be realistic and do what is best.
Unfortunately, as much as it is easier to go by sea cable, the landlock countries are dependent on government policies or the need to be connected and disconnected. We need to recognize that the youth are really our future with the thinking that is set out there. The old need to really step back and give an open charge to them. We can only look at the future, if we stop to be so divided and work together to raise the African continent to a brighter but durable and sustained future.
So in essence, as much as we look closer to technology we need to see the reality on the ground as we need to see that the green oil or green gold stand in agriculture as much as the technology and resources that this continent provide if we stood as one.
The saying of united we stand and divided we fall, is not just a saying the team has to work together to achieve the goals. Can Africa, really step up as a continent and make that difference?
We can only do our bits and hope for the best. I always believed in a moto that is about self dedication. If something comes to mind and you think will be for the good, never step back and do not expect others to come and do it for you. In fact you should just go ahead and hit the deck without expecting anything. Life does not always does not always treat us a heroes. We are seldom alone and expectation should be the least of our concerns. Remember, John Kennedy “It is not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
Let us just see how much our political leaders can bring about, but do you expect them to know what you know !!!!!
That is one area but, what of all people. Africa as much as many other areas of the world. The real problem is that the ability ti think is there but have gotten to the point that it feels that the skin colour and where you come from makes a difference. I don’t believe that. We are all equal in this world where a garden can only be beautiful with different colours of flowers and not only one colour.
So the final remarks here is that, Africa is not to copy everything but actually re-invent itself to its needs. If that does not happen we will never be heads on challenge to succeed.
N.B: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the African Academic Network on Internet Policy.