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AFRIK-IT  February 1996

AFRIK-IT February 1996

Subject:

From:

SKK-SYSTEMY KODOW KRESKOWYCH <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Fri, 16 Feb 1996 19:53:56 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (131 lines)

Dear List,
I believe in democracy, and that includes the right to be wrong. Mengestab
Haile may be right in disagreeing with me, but what he seems to be
advocating would (IMHO) achieve the reverse of what he wants.
He writes
> 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 agree with the goals expressed here. But we live in the real world. Most
Europeans and Americans do not have a computer - so it is unrealistic in a
continent where most people have more pressing needs to design a policy with
the objective "Internet access for the poor". If there is money available to
help the poor, I am sure that they would have other priorities (housing,
health, food, education) before internet access
 
>You (that means ME) 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 did not realise I gave that impression. I see no conflict between running
a profit seeking business, and having a conscience. If you want to make
money you have to focus on giving customers value for money, and to add
value to the value of the inputs the business buys. No one has to do
business with me, in Poland, Africa or anywhere. I would argue that a
perfectly good mechanism exists for the acquisition of new technology. It is
called the market. And I  have more faith in millions of African individuals
thinking about how they spend their own money to avoid naked exploitation,
rather than letting a "Ministry of Economic Development" take decisions on
their behalf. If African politicians/bureacrats are as honest as ones here,
much of such money will end up in private Swiss bank accounts.
 
> Good luck with your business proposal in Ghana. I don't think you are going to
introduce new technology via the intenet.
Thanks for wishing me well.
 
>
>Before the market reforms in Poland you did not need to work at all to get
>an orange - the government provided it for you!!
Not true. Talk to anyone who spend much time in Poland in the 1980s, and ask
them how easy it was to get fresh fruit
 
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?
It would be wrong to portray what has happened in Poland as either a triumph
or a disaster. But inflation has plummetted (from two thousand percent in
1989 to 23% last year), unemployment is about 15%. There is no doubt that
some groups are struggling, but this was true of everyone in the old days.
Very few people could get by without many hours of queuing in the 1980s, and
at the worst times there was nothing but vinegar in the shops. The economy
was decaying, emigration was high, and
there was an atmosphere of dispair. Living standards for many people have
risen, but for others have fallen since the changes. Expectations have risen
fast too. Why did the communists get re-elected. It is not as simple as
rejecting market reforms, because the communists did not campaign on that
platform. The right wing parties were divided into 8 parties, and the
communists worked together. The new communist president got 51% of the vote.
But this list is meant to be about Africa, not Poland
 
> 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.
 
I do not agree, but it is a question of political policy. Market based
economies set up general rules, like anyone can register a business, buy and
sell, provided they pay taxes, and keep the law, do not destroy the
environment. If I want to export ice cream to the North Pole, in a market
economy I have the freedom to make that mistake. Every big business started
small, Honda was a cottage industry 25 years ago.
 
>>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.
 
If my business goes bankrupt, then I lose my money. Obviously the government
no longer get tax revenue from me to pay for social programmes etc, but if I
had not had a business in the first place they would not have either.
 
>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.
 
I fully agree that no one in Africa should be forced to adopt ideas,
industries or technologies that they do not want. I do not agree that you
can speak for nations or continents' purchasing preferences without proof.
The easiest way to find out what products "WE Africans" want is to allow
free trade, and anyone to buy or sell.  The customer is the best judge of
his own interests and will decide who he wants to buy from.
 
>The time has come for all Africans whereever they mabe to exchange ideas and
>experiences with each other. Long live the INTERNET!!!
 
Of course I agree with this.
 
In summary, it is obvious that there are some fairly basic ideological
differences, but it is IMHO a mistake to see only good or only bad things
coming out of state socialism or the market. In the old days in Poland,
apart from a privileged group of "insiders" who held official positions,
people were poorer but more equal. The government locked people up, shot at
strikers, and there was censorship (but there was less violent crime).
 
In the market economy,  there is a lot of ostentatious consumption, mega
rich business interests in the capital, new pornography and so on, but there
are a lot of ordinary people who are getting along ok, but are worried about
the future. The big foreign business that comes in is also a mixed
influence. For example Henieken beer from Holland has taken over a national
brewer, Pepsico has taken over a chocalate company, but others are building
greenfield site factories, and wages are usually higher in the foreign
companies than the Polish ones. Also they bring in Western ideas of human
resources, and many people say that training and interpersonal relations are
better in some foreign firms than Polish businesses.
 
I don't think this sort of reality can be summarised in a few sentences. But
I am sure that having very tight regulation which means that the government
can stop someone starting a business (which is not in a strategic sector
like weapons), just gives a way for bureaucrats to gain a few kickbacks by
making life hard for people who want to try out something new. Private
enterprise is an important element in economic development.
 
regards to all list readers
Richard Lucas  SKK Systemy Kodow Kreskowych
We sell bar code systems
[log in to unmask]
fax +48-12-229226  tel + 48-12-226900

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