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AFRIK-IT  November 1998

AFRIK-IT November 1998

Subject:

Re: An African-American-Owned Company

From:

"Watermeyer, Henry" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Tue, 3 Nov 1998 08:31:28 +200

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (129 lines)

=From:          [log in to unmask]
=Date:          Mon, 2 Nov 1998 12:20:03 EST
=To:            [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]
=Subject:       Re: An African-American-Owned Company

Good morning

I was going to respond without copying the list because I did not want to add
more fury to the fire but having written my response I decided that
it was relevant to the list whose subscribers are all interested in
IT in Africa.

=I suppose that living in South Africa has really made you paranoid and I can

Maybe it has but only about the fact that all people are equal and
that any form of discrimination based on gender or race, or any other
grounds, is totally unsupportable on any grounds. Even Affirmative
Action projects need to be seen in the specific context they are targetted
to correct.

I spent most of formative and adult years resisting discrimination
both actively in my small way and very positively in the decisions I
took and I still hate it with a passion.

=understand and sympathize with you.  It may be difficult for you to understand
=that someone is not trying to exploit you.
=

The exploitation issue is a very different one. South Africa, as with
many African countries, has a limited number of trained IT staff who
in American terms are paid very badly. In local terms this may not
always be the case but it very often is. See early postings by Dr
Eberhard Lisse on his earnings in Namiba, and Namibia is not one the
poorest states in Africa.

Those of us in senior IT management positions are very aware that the
number of Computer Science graduates in the US has fallen in recent
years. The last figure I read was from around 36 000 to some
22 000 per annum.

Unfortunately it is very clear that the demand in the US for
experienced and trained people has not fallen in line with this, as
evidenced by the recent increase in the number of Green Cards
being made available specifically for IT skills so that skills can be
imported from other countries. In my book that could be seen as
exploitation.

If IT in Africa is going to roll out so that the continenent does not
end up as an informationly deprived region, it is absolutely vital
that the scarce resources we do manage to train are encouraged to
stay and work here. Luring them away with fancy US salaries and the
life styles as reflected in TV shows does nothing for this.

This is one of the reasons why I get very abrasive about foreign aid
projects that supply equipment without developing local skills to
use, maintain and enhance that equipment. Africa is then categorised
as a lost cause third world region where everthing that is provided for
them just gets broken and to which handouts must be given like coins
to beggers in the street.

Failure to change this approach and attitude will be catastrophic for
Africa and be very bad for the world economy including that of the USA.

Africa has great potential which must be helped to develop and not
be exploited as much of it was in Victorian Colonial times.

=I prefaced joining this list with the inquiry that if this were not the right
=list, please let us know.  My boss choose this list and he doesn't know much
=about listserv groups, I know about a smidgeon more than he does -- he wanted
=to be in contact with Black people -- his dream has always been to be able to
=provide Black people with jobs. To provide Black people with resources.

These are very worthwhile objectives and I am sure that they are
justified in the US.  To do this by attempting to recruit in Africa
for employment in the USA gets up my nose as we say.

What would be far more usefull would be for him to look for African,
or African related opportunities to recruit in the US for employment
out here. It may not be so profitable but it would help help provide
people with jobs and resources through skills transfer.

There is an old saying "that if you give a man a fish you will feed
him for a day but if you teach him to fish you will feed him for a life
time."

=
=As soon as I get a chance I will remove my boss' company from this list.

That would be a pity. Although there are on occasion some pretty
rough exchanges, this list does perform a very valuable service by
providing information about what is happening in an extremely
interesting region of the world. Continued membership might well help
give an understanding of the challenges we face.

I am sorry that some people have used our interchange as an excuse to
unsubscribe, I think they be the losers in the long run.

=
=And thanks once again for your unreasonable hostility.

I did not mean to be "unreasonably hostile" and apoligise if I came
across that way, but when my staff, of all backgrounds, are being
targeted by head hunters, I become very protective and I am afraid
I feel that way about the whole continent. Its called commitment to
the ideal of up lifting Africa.

I hope you now understand some of where I am coming from.

=
=Linda Solomon (american BLACK WOMAN)

Henry Watermeyer, (African Person)


=Secretary
=
"Ed Yardini is an optimist! He thinks there is only a 70% chance of a y2k triggered recession!"
=====================================================================
Subscribe to the IT Digest, an information resource from Wits Univ.
Send e-Mail to [log in to unmask]  with SUBSCRIBE ITDIGEST
and {your_user_id} in the body followed by END on the next line.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Henry C Watermeyer                         'Phone +27-11-716-3260/8000
Director - Computer & Network services     Fax    +27-11-339-1225
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
P/Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa           mobile +27-(0)82-800-8862
                 //SunSITE.Wits.ac.za      //WWW.Wits.ac.za
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