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AFRIK-IT  September 1995

AFRIK-IT September 1995

Subject:

Re: Vuka!

From:

Valerie Bruce <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Thu, 21 Sep 1995 22:46:00 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (118 lines)

Carleton writes:
 
 
.... South Africa, where internet access is
>snowballing at an alarming rate.  This not being a bad thing, but it
>is frustrating as service providers cannot provide quality service,
>especially to people like me who live in a rural area.  An unfortunate
>hangover from the old government, where money was spent on helping
>the urban white, first.
>
 
What does this have to do with internet service in Zambia?  The lack of good
telephone service in Zambia need not be attributed to the fact that South
Africa was ruled by whites.  In fact, anywhere, in any country, no matter
what the skin color, services are provided in urban areas long before
they're extended to rural areas.  Is the present South African gov't
interested in upgrading communications services in Zambia?
 
>This situation is likely to continue for some time, as the telco's
>infrastructure is geared toward beaurocracy rather than the
>technical.  Which will lead to dissapointment when it is realised
>that things like the Megaphone project (A million new rural phones)
>can't be accomplished with local resources.
>
 
This is only one of the areas of huge disappointment coming up in S.A.  What
the gov't wishes to accomplish (housing, education, etc. etc. etc. etc.)
will take decades, in a peaceful environment.  Let's hope peace continues,
so more and more people can realize at least some of their dreams.
 
>> (1)  how the introduction of the internet has affected gov't, business,
>> religion (missions, for example), the ordinary citizen in Zambia
>The one major effect was the re-establishment of links with the
>greater academic community.  Academics spent the first year playing
>catch-up with the world.
>Now, of course, we have access to the same intellectual resources as
>everyone else, a great equaliser at some level.
>
 
But - as I said initially, it's only a very few people at the top of the
hierarchy who have access to the internet, isn't it?  Surely the average
Zambian citizen is no where near a computer, let alone one with internet
access.  I would assume there are some connected computers in gov't offices.
 MIssions schools?  From what I know of these schools, many, if not most, of
the nuns there have been there several decades.  Computer technology may not
be a pressing need.   Besides the hardware, and the knowledge of how to use
them, there is the problem of telephone line access.
 
>> (2)   the future, with respect to widening use of this technology
>Personally, I'd like to see more debate on particularly African
>problems.  Things like illiteracy, basic health, multiculturalism,
>etc.
 
So do you think the internet is going to solve the illiteracy problem in
Africa?  Do you think it will improve basic health care, on a practical,
day-to-day level?
 
 
  The more Africans connected to the net, the greater the spread
>of information in Africa, with all its benefits.
 
The problem with the downtrodden masses getting all sorts of
education/information is that they start to demand things from their
governments.  Things their gov'ts don't want them to have, like rights,
freedoms, decent incomes/education.  Educated citizens want some say as to
what happens to them, they want some power.  They start to threaten the
power and riches of the elite.
 
I keep coming back to the question:  What do you think the internet will do
for the ordinary peasants struggling daily to feed themselves?  Isn't this
the majority of the people on the continent?
 
  I forsee a time
>when the weight of this technology begins to shape governments.  As
>people see how the rest of the world lives, thier thinking is
>updated.
 
I believe many, if not most, of the gov't leaders in Africa were educated in
the West.  They know about Western culture.  I guess you could say that
surfing the internet will serve to "update" them, along with the viewing of
Western movies and TV shows.  But that isn't going to prompt them to
"update" their countries.  They're in positions of power, with access to
lots of money.  They have a good thing going.  Are they going to jeopardize
that by further Westernizing their populace - educating them?  In the short
term, I see internet access by the elite as further marginalizing the
masses, driving an even larger wedge between the 2 classes.
 
This sort of polarization of people is happening in the West as well.
What's developing is a society consisting of 2 major groups of people:
those with technology knowledge  (they use it in their work), estimated to
be about 20% of the population, in the reasonably near future, and those
without this knowledge.  Those with this knowledge will have the best jobs,
make the best money, and be employable.  Those without this knowledge will
make a minimum of money, many  will not be able to find any type of work at
all.  This is a huge emerging social issue that gov't and academia are
grappling with.
 
Technology will not answer your problems over there.
 
 If you don't think this is already happening, consider that
>there are only seven countries in Africa not on the net.
>
 
So what?  How many people in all those countries actually get on line, and
for what purpose?
 
>> (3)  the social impact of the technology.
>Fascinating.   I recently heard that the SOS Children's Village in
>Mamelodi has been put on the net.  Imagine the effect this will have
>on a street child.
>
Mind boggling.  What is the SOS Children's Village?  Exactly what effects do
you personally think this will have on the average child?
 
Valerie Bruce
Vancouver, B. C.
Canada

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