Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The digital divide

We have continually been seeing a paradigm shift in Kenya's IT and Telecoms industry, with the likes of Safaricom going multiplatinum.
Since the Industrial revolution in the 19th Century, we have seen countries that went ahead then industrially being ahead of the pack all along, especially now that the world is fully dependent on IT. Thing is, once a party goes ahead in terms of industry and technology, it is really a mule kick trying to catch up. Even the likes of China and Japan had their own industries long before the majority of Europe could catch up.
In Kenya, we had a chance in 1982 to get a fibre connection to the rest of the world. But those in authority seemed to think that it would be an intelligence security breach. The cable was then diverted to Malaysia (we all know where Malaysia is now in terms of technology).
I feel that though we are far behind the developed world in this regard, we as Kenyans have the intellectual capability to not only develop our own customized technology - instead of taking years adapting to exterior ideas, which were developed under very different settings and requirements - but also to compete in the global IT arena. Innovativeness and infrastructure are key to achieve this and we must shape the future of the country's (and possibly our neighbors') technological advancement by dictating what is best for us, and building (on) it accordingly. We also need to have in place a governance that really understands the implications of tech and recognize and promote local talent.
Let us not wait for the likes of google and microsoft to come and show us the way to go, but let us also develop stuff that we can indeed take to the world, in a way that it will have to embrace it in order to embrace Africa.
Not just in IT, but in all fields: medicine, Engineering, agriculture, building and construction, astronomy.

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