The Vision of an Informed Africa
COMPUTING| Oct. 27, 2011, 2:54 p.m.
By Richwell Phinias, founder and CEO of Dariro.com, a Zimbabwean online communication platform.
The Vision of an informed Africa involves an Africa that is connected with the world and in the same way connected among its own citizens.
Today, people of African origin across the globe share experiences, skills, knowledge and information among themselves but within the jungles of global communication platforms. Having learnt global languages, etiquette, value systems and technologies, we share what we share but at the same time trying to perfect our adoption of global tools at the distortion of our own beliefs.
The next wave of technology flowing through Africa will see the people creating their own platforms of communication in their own understanding.
As internet access reaches all corners of Africa, there will be a growing need for e-inclusion among even generations who might not be so schooled and exposed to global communication etiquette.
For example, with the penetration of 3G internet in rural Zimbabwe, it now means that folks in the rural areas with internet-enabled handsets are also coming on Facebook. That is coming to the internet without having used a computer before but just following the trend to reconnect with relatives and friends in urban areas and abroad.
Facebook makes communication quite easier and cheaper compared to telephones, fixed or mobile.
As more and more people become internet and technology savvy, it is creating opportunities for developers to work on platforms and applications from an African perspective.
Mobile applications addressing communication and knowledge sharing needs among farmers, traders, schools, health services, religion and other general spectrums of society will start mushrooming in Africa.
These applications are not going be just customization of similar applications from across the world, I believe not, for certain areas like traditional customs cannot be benchmarked from outside as some of the practice are only limited to Africa.
We are going to see as many mobile applications and communications platform developed with a heavy bias towards local content even in the mainframe of the systems.
We already have investors and developers coming from the Silicon Valleys out there coming to develop local content platforms for Africa but in the long run I am quite sure and certain that it is only those platforms and applications developed by the Africans themselves that are going to ultimately dominate the market.
Unlike all the other forms of business, the barriers to entry are low and what will rules will be the ability to innovate and a deeper understanding of cultural needs of the people which can only be executed and managed so well by the Africans themselves.
A couple of years ago I anticipated a future where Africans in the Diaspora who had first access to broadband services, skills and knowledge of the internet, would take advantage of the platform to tell the African story.
Today, that is a reality as we have as many locals fully utilizing various communication platforms from social networks, cloud computing platforms to even the ubiquitous email technology.
So as we move away from hindrances like online payment gateways for Africa and bandwidth access and cost, soon rather than later, Africa's economy, politics, religion and social life is going to embrace the internet technology on a broader scale.
At the moment the Asian tigers and China will really be an inspiration in as much as localizing technology is concerned.
In the coming few years as tablets and smart phones invade Africa making less attractive internet access devices cheaper, more and more people are going to be online. This is going to create lots of opportunities for business in web and mobile applications development.
The ecosystem which will also involve online payments is also going to create for us financially success stories that will motivate more business minded and innovative entrepreneurs. Just as such stories of technology luminaries as that of Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, the late Steve Jobs and recently Mark Zuckerburg have lighted the way for more adventurous and innovative entrepreneurs, the same is going to happen in Africa.
A few successful individuals are going to ignite a spark of innovation on the continent for the continent.
The vision of an informed Africa is in our control. The platforms will change, they will get renewed and re-launched but in the end the people of Africa will be more connected, networked and informed than before.
About Richwell Phinias
Richwell Phinias is an internet marketing consultant and website developer based in Zimbabwe. His burning vision is to see the development of local content on the internet allowing African communities and businesses to interact seamlessly first among themselves and then with the world. This will be achieved by creating online platforms that are easily adopted by people as for their various businesses.
He is the founder of Dariro.com, an online communications, networking and information sharing platform that opens up opportunities for business, artists, churches, NGOs and individuals to benefit from the advancement of internet technology. His passion and desire is to use the internet as an affordable avenue for various users to network and interact with their respective stakeholders, albeit on a global scale.
He believes that people are as developed as the information they can access.
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