African Tech Tidbits: literacy, startups, data, the iPad, moderation, and more
Many viewpoints appear on our radar as we sift through news stories from across the continent. All are useful, but some are especially intriguing. This year, we aim to routinely jot down snippets of our thoughts on what is happening in the realm of African Internet progress. We hope the discussion of these themes can ever-so-slightly contribute to a continent where every citizen has the means to not only access, but also to understand the power of the Internet.
On our mind this January 10th, 2012 are a range of themes – from literacy to data to moderation:
- A certain degree of literacy is needed before a nation can unlock the benefits of technology and support the innovators (ie. literacy will help create demand for new services).
- Government-mandated subsidies can reduce costs of importing mobile devices.
- Starting a business is easier than ever in many nations, but maintaining said business is more of a challenge. Those involved in tech start-ups often lack a salary and face lean work conditions. True passion is crucial if a business is to last more than a year or two. Financial investment certainly opens doors as well.
- Data is either lacking or not used effectively. High-level statistics are thrown around, but granular numbers that can be applied to specific circumstances are often lacking. Take, for example, a national Internet penetration statistic. What does it mean for 10% of the population to have Internet access? What matters more is Internet access by city or segment or the population.
- Backing up data cannot be overlooked. Neither can cached content. Embrace the cloud.
- National broadband policies are present in nearly 100 countries. However, many don’t feel the need to update policies to better serve rural areas. Plans focus on broadband access and market sustainability rather than household delivery. Last-mile connectivity is very important as undersea cables continue to go live.
- Government officials should be wary to use iPads. (Zimbabweans are irate – for various reasons – after the IT Minister lost his at church. 164 comments on this story!)
- Ndubuisi Ekekwe is right that everyone – governments, investors, journalists – needs to take a step back and remember the importance of moderation in life. That means balanced support toward all varieties of technology and not just IT.
- On a lighter note, online security is important, but should be used logically. Wi-Fi passwords are crucial in public locations, but webmasters shouldn’t make them overly complicated, as seems to be commonplace in many hotels.