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African Tech Tidbits: Wikipedia, hacking, sheep, and more

February 16, 2012  »  UncategorizedNo Comment

Many viewpoints appear on our radar as we sift through news stories from across the continent. All are useful, but some are especially intriguing. 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 February 16th, 2012 are a range of themes:

  • Amazingly, only 150,000 Wikipedia articles exist in the Arabic language despite 400 million global speakers. North Africa is in a position to play a key role in leading the effort of Arabic Wikipedia content creation. An endeavor in Cairo will have students in creating and translating content in Arabic. Additionally, the Wikimedia Foundation recently completed a visit to Tunisia with a goal of increasing Wikipedia awareness. The organization will soon make a stop in Algeria to similarly encourage content creation.
  • Zimbabwe’s The Herald and various East African websites (MTN, Kenyan government sites) have been hacked in the past week. Although it is difficult to completely eliminate security threats, high profile web properties should take precautions to make breaches more difficult. Predictions of greater cyber security threats seem to be coming true as bandwidth increases and malicious computer users boost their skills.
  • Ethiopia’s e-commerce law has now been in draft stage for more than three years. Perhaps a more robust ICT policy should be created first (or a privatized telecoms industry).
  • Moustapha Naite’s success in the Guinean Internet cafe/ISP space reminds us of the need to build a network of people who believe in your dream.
  • The Malawian search engine “cfinder” may seem dated to those who have used the Internet for a decade, but it serves a great purpose of ranking Malawian content highly. Unfortunate is the need to host the site in South Africa due to power blackouts in Malawi…
  • We love everything “tech hub” and therefore are pleased to see the Hubs in Africa Crowdmap initiated by Zambia’s BongoHive.

Finally, we’re greatly inspired by the Associated Press story of Francis Kariuki, the administrative chief of Lanet Umoja, Kenya whose Tweets keep thousands of residents connected (and prevent sheep theft). Some Tweets are received directly; others are accessed by mobile application; some are forwarded via text. No matter the technology, real-time announcements are keeping constituents safe. They also inspire.