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AFRIK-IT  February 1996

AFRIK-IT February 1996

Subject:

Re: AFRIK-IT Digest - 13 Feb 1996 to 14 Feb 1996

From:

Cedric Harold <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Thu, 15 Feb 1996 23:52:37 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (81 lines)

In your response to Richard Lucs you started by saying:
> I am not against new technology and for that matter the internet. To me it is im
> portant that the so called new technology ( in the African context) is appropria
> te and is used for the benefit of the millions of the poor people not just for t
> he profit of few companies.
>
Why do you counterpose "the benefit of the millions of the poor" against
"the profit of a few companies"?  Surely we seek the benefit of the
millions AND the profit of a few companies AND a middle class that feels
it is part of the mainstream of world culture?
 
Again, from Lucs:
> > 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.
>
I concur with the duty and the need.  The statement about profit margins
is gratuitous.  Lucs is expressing his political philosophy, the doctrine
of laissez-faire.  Your comment merely says that this is not your philosophy.
 
 
Again from Lucs:
>
> > 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 you
> need to differentiate between cottage industry and real investment.
>
I beg to disagree. It is not rubbish.  Lucs has stated his laissez-faire
approach even more clearly.  Surely you can disagree with it without
calling it rubbish.  The big question - and every generation of citizens
and subjects ask it - is where should the balance of power in a society
lie?  Should it lie more with the individual citizen than with the
government, or should it be the other way?  Several generations in a free
society will have it one way, while a succeeding set will have it the
other way.  Our friend Lucs clearly prefers to belong in a society where
the individual's rights are paramount over those of his government.
 
>
> > 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 sug
> gested 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.
 
But do you want amateur African businessmen to try out available products
in their native land?
 
On a somewhat different note, I have read many of your postings and have
always found you more a conciliator than a protoganist.  This is a rare
Menghestab.
 
 
Cedric

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