We have often posted in these pages that technology is one of the biggest hopes for the development of the African continent. There are challenges in this area – the lack of decent infrastructure, the pace of urbanisation growth and other factors still hinder technology sectors.
But there are many positive points and IBM have just added to that list, They are embarking on a series of knowledge based initiatives which are designed to enable the current and future workforce to help develop the required IT skills needed to a technology driven economic growth. It’s encouraging to see firms in Africa looking forward and speaking of modern technologies like the cloud, analytic and virtual computing. So often news in Africa is just about fixing problems or playing catch up with the rest of the world.
In many ways it makes perfect sense to try and focus educational development on new technology in Africa. The market is there and with the rapid rise of mobile phone technology and infrastructure across the continent – in many ways Africa has advantages over the technology saturated developed countries.
It is expected that IBM will be working with a variety of partners in Africa from technology companies, small businesses and educational establishments. The goal to simply build and expand the IT capabilities of the African workforce.
Other major companies are looking at similar schemes, and there is a growing knowledge base particularly among the young people of Africa, It is not uncommon to see people in African cities and towns using the internet for buying, selling and even running international businesses. In internet cafes you’ll see people running fledgling e-commerce operations. In a small cyber cafe in Harare I saw several people watching the news on the BBC on their computers, something that I though was impossible due to firewalls and country restrictions. I was pointed in the direction of this video which one student had used to get access when studying in France – entitled – BBC Iplayer France
The conclusion is simple, technology is here to stay across Africa and unlike many economic sectors over the years – we are not at quite a disadvantage compared to the rest of the world. Sure there’s little sign of the high penetration of superfast broadband or rolling out 4G networks everywhere. But there is evidence of technology in most centres of population and in may cases quite a good IT infrastructure.