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AFRIK-IT  April 1996

AFRIK-IT April 1996

Subject:

Re: Leap-frogging technologies

From:

"Folayan, Sunday" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Wed, 10 Apr 1996 12:17:00 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (116 lines)

I must confess to just getting back into the loop of this forum.
 
Jeff has touched on issues some of us have been screaming about in Nigeria. I
do not agree with all he wrote, but some issues are quite basic. I see
Nigeria as a mirror of Africa, since it has a huge human and material
resources, but alas ..... (Contents edited) .....
 
> With respect to purely technical development, then sure, I think Africa
> will take advantage of the latest computers and software. I don't expect
> people to buy an old IBM AT before surfing up to a Pentium system.
 
The acquisition of advanced technology for pure consumption has never worked
in Africa. Donors determining what is needed is also not sustainable. If the
Computer will be used where there is no ventilation, one is probably better
off with the AT than a pentium that piggy-backs a cooling fan. If an AT is
sufficient, I will rather get one, and avoid a pentium.
 
> I'm generally of the school that believes that second-hand computers
> and old software are a waste of money.  Some projects distribute
> 2400bps modems.  That's regrettable.  I don't know of anyone who is
> buying them, so why should they be given away?
 
I frankly do not object to projects that distribute obsolete equipment like
2400bps modems. If the benefactors can pay (themselves) for the higher cost
of transmission, then let them have it! I call it a Sin, when the benefactors
do not know the difference between 2.4K and 14.4K modems. A 9.6K modem is
more useful in Nigeria than a 14.4K modem.
 
> I personally believe technological development in Africa will be quite
> different. And I doubt it will take place along a linear path.
 
You are damn right on this. Most homes have water beds, Peter Justensen
furnitures, the latest PABX systems, latest Satellite systems (even if the
pass is not over them), that will make the National infrastructure pale. it
is better to have it personal than for the country. If there is an urgent
need (African), the links will sprout exponentially.
 
> Sure, Africa should jump right to a snazzy Unix server with banks
> of dialup modems and a VSAT link to the Internet.
 
I think it will be one router each, not a modem bank. a thousand or more
individuals in Nigeria will want dedicated T1 links over VSAT, only if you
convince them it is a status symbol. Cisco better begin to run adverts in
Nigerian newspapers (begin it with  ... what do people that matter most buy?
....) BTW don't demonstrate email, show them Video conferencing.
 
> who's going to "hold" the server, pay the recurring costs, set prices,
> facilitate training for users, promote local network development, and so
> on? These are the tougher questions.
 
These are the questions Aid programmes should address. Without these issues
being addressed together with the benefactors themselves, the aid will fail.
Too much talks have been held. Aids should go to those who are doing it, not
those who want to start doing it. "Let Me help Me to carry My load"
 
> what's pushed on Africa for Internet access are the larger and more
> expensive systems that require a high level of technical competence,
> extensive foreign training, and so forth.
 
Those who point this out are the enemies of the people. Harnessing manpower
and overcoming odds is a better project to fund. How many donors will fund a
small upstart company, that removes the 500mAH sealed batteries in UPS
systems and replaces them with 60AH Car lead-acid batteries, thereby
extending the backup time from 10 minutes to 10 hours?
 
> In parallel or instead, however, we might think about smaller and less
> complex server systems for accessing the Internet.
 
We SHOULD (not might) start from the smaller systems and build up the
complexity. The concept of mass transit in Africa can be extended to
information transit. Look under the hood of a Volvo car in Nigeria, the
chance is that you will find a Toyota engine. Are these mechanics trained
in Japan?
 
> Think about a country somewhere in which there's a single Internet link,
> which publishes something controversial from a local newspaper.
> Government knows right were to go to pull the plug. Farfetched?
> I seem to recall hearing about something recently...
 
Did you pick this from the proposal of the Nigeria Internet Group? A
Government appointed Internet Administrator is being suggested, to speed up
Nigeria's IP connectivity! I suppose (s)he will be pulling the plug.
 
> Imagine how different it might be if there were dozens of small systems
> in the country, run on simple PCs, interlinked but not wholly dependent
> on any one other system. Imagine if dedicated routings to a central
> international gateway could quickly be converted to batch telephonic
> routing of newsgroups.  What if the government were informed that all
> the publications were already mirrored on a server elsewhere?
 
The National Network! Forerunner to the global Network. I continue to argue
that if people can wire themselves within a country, making information
available locally, global connectivity will be painless. If only someone in
Nigeria can maintain a profile of all footballers, their current form etc, I
can see the American major league soccer footing the bill to connect that
Network to the Internet. I will not publish anything against the Government,
but I sure will publish what moneybags want!
 
> A motivating factor in structuring America's network development was the
> threat of nuclear war. I dare say the motivating factor will be different
> in Africa, but it might just favor the same kind of decentralization.
 
One would have thought that the threat of famine, hunger, flood, war etc.
will be the catalyst for development in Africa. Although I am in my late
twenties, I sincerely hope for the development of Africa in my own time.
 
.... the harvest truely is great, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore
the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his field of
harvest. (Luke 10:2 KJV)
 
Sunday A. Folayan
[log in to unmask]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Every country remains in its state of unrest or chaos, unless compelled
by internal forces to act otherwise.     --  1st Law of Development

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