Dear Richard, Jeff and others,
Richard Lucs writes:
> re: ISP viability in Africa. I think Jeff Cochrane has a point. The point of
> any new technology is either to enable organisations or people to do things
> that they cannot do before, or to do what they do already more cheaply. The
> Internet offers both. And any African institution that spends money on
> international contact is a potential customer.
I am not against new technology and for that matter the internet. To me it is important that the so called new technology ( in the African context) is appropriate and is used for the benefit of the millions of the poor people not just for the profit of few companies.
> I have a small business in Poland and we sell bar code technologies. For
> sure not every shop, warehouse, factory, electricity company, government
> body in Poland can afford them, but the ones that can cut their costs, and
> raise productivity.
You seem to care only of of your profit margins. Who is going to help the
millions with out enough food!!!. As Africans, it is our duty to support our
people and protect them from naked exploitation. At the same time we need to
devise means of acquiring appropriate technology that is sustainable and useful.
> Surely the Internet also offers productivity gains. People who are faxing at
> the moment, and any trading company will be do that a lot, can save a lot of
> money by using email.I am trying to get a business similar to the one I have
> here going in Ghana, and it is a real benefit to be able to send email.
> Faxing from Poland to Ghana costs something like US$20 minimum, and I have
> to wait several hours for Polish Telecom to get me the connection. Thus
> email is cheaper, quicker, and helping (possibly) to small business people
> introduce a new technology.
Good luck with your business proposal in Ghana. I don't think you are going to
introduce new technology via the intenet.
> Even if the Internet is only helping the people with money already, it will
> help them raise their productivity, the growth rate, and mean that with
> increasing competition, the amount of time the average person has to work to
> get something falls (IE real incomes rise). Before the market reforms in
> Poland, an average person might work for two days to buy an orange. Now it
> is about 15 minutes.
Before the market reforms in Poland you did not need to work at all to get
an orange - the government provided it for you!! What is the infaltion rate like in Poland after the market reform? What is the unemployment like? Maybe it
is not bad for foreign investers but what about for the Polish. why did the Polish decide to vote for the communists?
> But the most important point to note is that it is not an issue of
> government policy at all, if some private individual or business decides to
> risk his own capital on setting up an internet service. We can sit at
> different places on the planet predicting success or failure, but in the end
> it is not our business. It is that person's and their customers. If it
> fails, well it has not cost the country a cent. I guess if someone set up an
> email->fax link in New York, and had a sales pitch in Lagos, "one page fax
> to New York for a dollar" there might just be a queue. But I could be wrong.
Utterely rubbish. It is the responsibility of a government and should also be
government policy that unsastainable projects are not allowed. There are
government rules for investment and every body should abide by them. I think youneed to differentiate between cottage industry and real investment.
How on earth can you say a failing company does not cost a cent to the
government? Even though I am neither an economist nor a businessman I can understand this bit.
> It is an issue of government policy if government money is being used to
> subsidize it, because then there is the issue of whether the money could not
> be better spent elsewhere. It is also an issue if the telecom laws stop
> people going into this business.
> The immediate lack of benefits for the ordinary person is not a reason to be
> against the Internet in Africa, or against most new technologies at most
> times. A few entrepreneurs taking risks can often be a quicker way to get
> something started than a government plan, with feasibility studies, and the
> need for certainty, in a world which is rapidly changing and uncertain.
No one is against the internet in Africa inluding other technologies. No one suggested that internet or IT is not going to benefit the ordinary person.
The point is WE Africans will decide what we need and what we don't.
We don't want business amateurs to try out their products in our countries.
The time has come for all Africans whereever they mabe to exchange ideas and
experiences with each other. Long live the INTERNET!!!