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AFRIK-IT  September 1997

AFRIK-IT September 1997

Subject:

Re: Access <== Cost: African PTT the Criticial Leverage Point

From:

Adrian Quincy Labor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Fri, 26 Sep 1997 07:16:29 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (114 lines)

This response to "Re: Access ==Cost A take from Senegal" is worth
sharing. It adds to growing discussion on Access and Cost that
suggests that African PTT are the critical leverage point in
establishing a worthwhile African Information Infrastructure.

Gaston Zongo, the drive behind the African Telecommunication
Observatory here in Senegal not only believes in the point Randy makes
in his fifth paragrapgh (So the governments...) but has already placed
two years work suggesting how and convincing the West African PTT
(Public and Private) General Directors on a process to acheive it.
More on that sometime later or strike a note with him at
([log in to unmask] and visit his site at
http://www.telecom-plus.sn/observatoire )

In a two day regional seminar organized by the Observatory this July,
he brought the Western Telecom providers, the West African PPT, their
Big Clients and other necessary parties together to deal with this
reality. Interestingly, the seminar titled "New Challenges (Stakes) in
the Telecommunications Market: Who will Survive in Africa" was
directed to the PTT.  A number of developments came before the seminar
and much more followed. You`ll need French to keep track of them.

One other point I would like to slip in before I let you read the
forwarded response below is - There are Africans who are aware of the
obvious and are doing the obvious to deal with issue and from an
African perspective...the way many Afrik-itters say it should be.
These scattered but related works if put together can prove that their
is a ground swell of proactive work in this area from within Africa.
It would probably take that to end the passive outlook and consequent
reactive responses postulated to deal with Africa`s,
Telecommunication, Information and Computer communications Sector.


Adrian Q. Labor
Intern Acacia Initiative
Please DO NOT Say IDRC SAID THIS. It is my Opinion.

--------------------------------------------------------------
Randy ([log in to unmask]) wrote:

Someone forwarded me your message re the situation in Senegal.  Good
stuff.

[ tirade ]

But, IMIHO, the commercial providers, especially those associated with

the north, e.g. MCI, Sprint, ... are classic colonial exploiters.
Except that this time they sell information in as opposed to taking
natural resources out.  They often mean well, but are creating
colonial consumers of the information economy.

Be quite suspicious Northern development agency flag planters,
especially of bi-lateral, as opposed to multi-lateral agencies.  Their
histories in many other areas should make any further comment by me
unnecessary.

The NGOs do not have the strength to combat this.  They never will, as
they are small, but most important are not at a point of leverage.
Same for the academic community.  I still strongly support empowering
these communities,and put my time and energy where my mouth is.  But I
know their effect is long term, and does not meet the short term need
for a major change in approach.

The only folk at a point of leverage are the local PTTs.  But their
view is that, by enabling and becoming partners of the colonials, they
will get a healthy share and further their infrastructure.  Heck, in
many countries, the PTTs are being sold to the Northern PTTs, classic
techno-colonialism. We have also seen this short sighted view before
in history.

So the governments have to be educated to realize that it is in their
*critical* national interest to insist that they and their ISPs are
first class players in an open and competitive environment.  They need
to ensure that there are multiple connections to the outside world,
preferably to European or Asian providers as well as US.  And if
opportunities present to make South/South connections, they should be
pursued.

Similarly, make serious efforts to become information producers, not
just consumers.  The Southern countries have valuable data on
demography, physical resources, art & culture, scientific research,
manufacture,
...
Not becoming producers, and remaining consumers, will ensure being at
the bottom of the food chain in the information economy.

And the ISPs should compete commercially but conspire socially.  Open
competition will see that prices and services are rational (if you
believe in capitalism, and it's popular on the net:-).  But realize
that the market will expand faster than they can fill it.  So do not
go after each others' customers, do not back-stab and bad-mouth, ...
When the market is 5% saturated, the 95% out there is a bit larger
than the 5% already served. And differentiate on content, culture,
community, ...  See that the net gets to the whole culture, not just
the rich businesses.  Schools, hospitals, libraries are the long term
levers in moving the information economy.

And keep one's eye on serving the customer, culture, and one's
country. No body else will do it for you.  Certainly not a bunch of
(occasionally) well meaning but colonialist ghosts like me.

[ edarit ]

You are welcome to distribute my drivel as you wish.  As I do not read




the
lists, I do not (and probably may not) post to them.

randy

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