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AFRIK-IT  September 1995

AFRIK-IT September 1995

Subject:

Re: FW: Africa's_participation_in_the_Global_Information_Su

From:

Dr Eberhard W Lisse <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 22 Sep 1995 18:03:44 +0100

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text/plain

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text/plain (204 lines)

In message <[log in to unmask]>Roger Wiesenbach writes
>>     TELEMATICS FOR AFRICA: THE GLOBAL INFORMATION HIGHWAY
>>     =====================================================
 
Reading these unreal postings is quite irritating at times....
 
>> There have been great promises made by builders of the Information
>> Highway that the global communications network will pull developing
>> nations out of their state of dependency into the modern age and
>> will bring success to these countries.  There has, however, been a
>> debate with regard to these presumed benefits in a group discussion
>> by participants at the recently concluded second Regional Programme
>> for Trainers of Information Analysts in Africa (REPTIAA-2) held at
>> the Institute of Computer Science, University of Nairobi.
 
Who cares about benefeits and dangers as long as one doesn't have
it and won't in the forseeable future not get it?
 
 
>
>A troubling theme of this communique:
>>  -    the time is not yet ripe for Africa to join the Global
>>      Information Highway (GIH), as there is still need to further
>>      invest and put in place the basic AII with a view to
>>      participation in the GIH in future.
 
What Africa? There is no Africa to do anything! We can't even
scrap visa requiremebts if not passport requirement as the
Europeans have done. So forget about these idealistic ideas about
African countries doing anything together...
 
[...]
 
>>  -    the lack of IT policy in most African countries makes it
>>      premature to rush into the GIH;
>Prudence is needed, but should those who can and want to plunge in
>the deep end be prevented from doing this?
The requirement for an IP policy is pure and simple nonsense. You
only need a policy if you want to convince government to fork over
the bucks. Ah well, maybe that's is :-)-O
 
>>  -    much emphasis seems to be placed on the tele aspects of the
>>      information infrastructure per se, with little cognisance of
>>      the Human/Social aspects of the Information Highway.
Who cares about these aspects? Only researches...
 
Really, what we need in our countries most, is clean water,
agriculture, education, health care. Not necessarily in that
order. Now if you can use the Internet to help there, that is what
you do.
 
 
>> 3.3 Reservations
>>  -    Ownership of GII lies with the developed world.  This is not
>>      healthy for Africa, since it just seems to be towed along;
>Who 'owns' the GII? or rather, who can exercise ownership 'rights'
>over the Net?  Do you have any example of how the developed world is
>using its power to hold back Africa.  Running the Net is like herding cats.
You are too polite in your comment. The ownership statement is
pure rubbish. Who is the Internet Societey? Its members. If the
developing counrties majorize it, well, let's get more countries on
line.
 
>Africa is being 'towed along' because not much is coming out of Africa.
Africa is not towed along. Africa is plain not there.
 
However these countries in Africa that have IP can exert enough
influence.
 
>>  -    there must first be local participation in information sharing
>>      before there can be talk of international participation;
Again, a load of theoretical rubbish by havenots.
 
>This is not a good selling point to those who are thinking about
>netting up, they won't bother if they cannot access the excitement of
>full Net-access.
Exactly. Quite the opposite is true in fact. The only countries
where IP hase been achieved have had dialup access before.
 
This donor based top-down approach that the authors seem to
advocate does not work anywhere. The only way is to connect sites
that are willing to put in work.  You got to get some academic
institutions to communicate with each other first, then maybe some
companies. Then you maybe find APC, GreenNet or SatelLife to pump
your bytes overseas (eaven if it means using FIDO protcol, which
is less efficient then batched Taylor UUCP). The net will grow
sooner or later enough to warrant IP.
 
It would be quit ideal to connect countries to a regional hub and
that one overseas. But you can forget about this. RINAF is trying
this and it doesn't work.
 
 
>>  -    significant impact on Africa and its development may only be
>>      realised if Africa communities or governments contribute to
>>      determining the content of the Information Highway, especially
>>      with respect to the promotion and maintenance of cultural,
>>      traditional and other social values;
Where do these people live?
 
It is almost as if African Governments had a reputation for doing
things right, helping their marginalized own people (``other
tribe''), promoting fredom of information ad so forth...
 
You do NOT want government involved other then maybe footing some
of the bill (no strings attached).
 
>>  -    with regard to entrepreneurship, Africa governments need to be
>>      more involved by laying down and formulating policies in this
>>      respect.
Nonsense!
>You can find plenty of consultants available here in France, out of work
>thanks to the "colbertiste" policies they expouse.
France is a bit of a bad example anyway, being totally
centralistic.
 
 
 
>> 5. SUMMARY OF THE DISCUSSIONS
>>  -----------------------------
>> The Global Information Highway has infrastructural, social and
>> institutional/organisational implications for Africa that have to
>> be addressed before joining it.
>Does that mean African participation must be put on hold until the
>academics have exhausted their debating points?
No this is a justification for the existance of the participant's
jobs so they can whine about this (well, let's call it: produce
learned papers) instead of going out and doing it.
 
 
>> (1)  That, in general the African Information Infrastructures are
>>      not quite upto international standards and hence Africa should
>>      first improve its information infrastructure to acceptable
>>      basic stardards with a view to venturing into regional and
>>      international communication networks;
Nonsense!
 
>"First" get everybody up to a certain standard, meanwhile standing
>idle, and then on Big-Bang day, they all start communicating on
>a regional network?
 
Lwrie's Law: ``If fax works, email works''!
 
>> (2)  Investment resources in Africa are scarce.  This calls for
>>      prioritization in investment.  For instance Africa should
>>      first invest in those areas with immediate returns and with
>>      low risks.  Indeed investment should be at all levels and not
>>      just concentrated on elite-oriented areas.  This has
>>      implication on the attitude towards investment in the
>>      Information Highway programme;
Investment meaning donor funding? Thes must go to the rural areas
to improve health, education, water, and so forth..
 
>So if some individual or a company think they've got a great idea
>that will fly on the Net, they must stand in line and wait for some
>official to decide if they may use their precious money for this
>investment?
I noted the list of participants and the countries they come from. No
wonder...
 
 
>> (3)  There is the need for proper management of Africa's
>>      involvement in the programme such that the positive aspects
>>      can be taken advantage of while the negative ones are taken
>>      safeguarded against.
Really, the more I read this crap the more my blood pressure
rises.
 
>Who will 'manage' this programme to assure a sterile environment
>with no negative aspects?
Maybe these authors?
 
>> On social issues that need to be addressed;
>> (1)  Africa should not be pushed along by technology.  Rather due
>>      consideration should be given to Africa's social, cultural and
>>      political diversity;
Nonsense! Now we even want to import ``Political Correctness''?
 
[...]
 
>> (4)  On initiatives towards telematics for development, it was made
>>      clear that relatively few initiatives were taken at the
>>      individual or institutional levels.
>Those with the means have been the 'kennel-dogs' of the establishment.
>What's needed are good role models who display individual initiative.
Statement (4) is plain not true. These people have really no
incling. All initiatives in SADC by individuals or small
institutions are in fact working extremely well. But maybe they
work because we did not waste our time dreaming up such nonsense.
 
>> (1)  A cautious approach should be adopted towards the Information
>>      Highway programme.
>How do you hold back the young turks who are ready and raving to go?
Don't worry, they'll find a way...
 
[...]
 
greetings, el
--
Dr. Eberhard W. Lisse   \         /              Swakopmund State Hospital
<[log in to unmask]>            *        |               Resident Medical Officer
Private Bag 5004          \      /+264 641 61503 (pager)  641 61005 (home)
Swakopmund, Namibia        ;____/ Postmaster Namibia <[log in to unmask]>

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