Look! Africa is fast becoming a digital colony without her realizing it.Am deeply afraid with the way we are going,that one day if nothing is done, we will wake up and see one smart kid in say China remotely controlling the economies of nations in Africa!Yes,it is as bad as that, if you have keenly followed trends of events happening especially in the cyberspace.And frankly this demands a state of emergency by African Union.In my opinion; this is the new war we need to fight in Africa with code warriors for digital independence!
Africa,one of the largest continents of the world,blessed with great human and material resources no doubt,it becomes unfortunate that even with these abundant resources,our nations are still very poor,underdeveloped and living in the third world.When i look at emerging economies and the vintage role Africa should play, i say to myself, why is Africa still sleeping.Are we really ready for the coming wealth and power transfer? How are we positioned?
We seem to become eternally clueless about technology, its place in African development and what the future holds.My fear is that in this ew knowledge economy driven by technologies,Africa has started playing the same ignorant and i –don’t- care role they played during the Agricultural and industrial age which left us with hunger, poverty and lack.It even took our self esteem away.In this digital age,the consequences cannot be imagined because of the speed associated with digital advancement and if nothing is done now, Africa might never recover from this digital colonisation.
I am writing this with the mind that if Africa can realize what she has, find ways to develop the continent using technology as the driving force,we will be the next continent to beat in the global arena of technology competitiveness and overcome this digital enslavement!It is clear that any nation or continent that cannot develop and grow its own technologies has no future and will depend on others.They will hardly regain their freedom.
Our over dependency and consumption of technologies(with none made in Africa)have left us as a digital colony while we plough the fields of other smart nations making them Digital giants and singing their songs in Africa.Digital colonization enslaves Africa in her domain making her fully dependent on the global IT savvy nations for all her technology needs, thereby compromising her critical resources and her sovereignty without her knowing.
Chris Uwaje in his book-e-Knowledge-Time is running out!aptly captures the entire scenario of a digital colony,he said”some shortsighted nations will wake-up at midnight one day,in the early decades of this century and suddenly realize that they have been digitally colonized.The resultant effect of this will seriously impact on the future generations to come.It simply means that the entire life,culture and sovereignty of a nation and her citizenry have been unknowingly to the people traded off and taken over by IT-smart, powerful and knowledge- centered information force and/or forces on the globe.”
The following points to the fact that we have been digitally colonised:Technology Products Consumption in Africa,Technology and Security in Africa,Data storage and management in Africa,Technology Entrepreneurship in Africa.I look around Africa and i see no technology product of African origin that is serving the tech needs of the people ,not to talk of ones for export,still our technology consumption is very high in Africa.Our countries have turned into a digital dumping ground for used and out dated tech stuffs.
Right now as you are reading this, if you are in Africa, look around where you are,can you identify any Made in Africa Tech Product?That is how deep the truth of the matter is.From the websites we visit daily to the cars we drive,the computers and laptops,servers, our mobile phones with the SIM cards,you name them, to even the smallest of gadgets.They are shipped to us from other nations.None is made in Africa and yet we take so much delight in promoting and associating ourselves with the Global brands of other continents; have you ever given this a thought?It’s even a bigger shame when you find out that most times it is Africans in diaspora that drive those tech developments around the world,why can’t we use our knowledge and experience to develop our Africa via technology.I see many African intellectuals all over the world, with PhDs with no invention to their credit, no contribution whatever to the development of Africa. All they do is speak and give speeches at forums without any thought of how to move the continent forward.I see them as academic derelicts of African descent!I began to imagine-What do Africans use their PhDs for?To suppress their brothers and sisters? While others improve the lives of their brothers and sisters in other continents.
Yes,i know there are several reasons why no one should live in Africa,from bad government to bad policies but those are the same reasons that keep bringing investors(oyibos) into Africa to explore what the people do not know exist with them.True development in Africa can only be done by Africans.
Let’s briefly look at Security and Technology in Africa,since we cannot develop our technologies in Africa;our technology needs for National security and critical information management in Africa like in our central and commercial banks,stock exchanges,Government information system,Military and defense information system, other vital information of the state,who handles them?What software run them? Many interesting questions that can come out of this.These important aspect of security in Africa are always outsourced to India,China, US or other tech savvy nations.For example,Nigeria launched her second satellites with critical information management outsourced to China because we don’t have what it takes to handle such.That has clearly put us at the mercy of China and the government seems not to know the implications of such in time to come.It has very grave consequences and cracks on the sovereignty and the ability of Africa to really protect,control and manage her territories. The Governments have failed to make the needed investment to grow her local technology, at last they lose control of their countries and at the end everyone is asking why African nations are war-torn.
I watch with keen interest the controlling effect of technologies in developed economies ,this have made the government of such tech savvy nations fully interested in these technology companies and their well being.They are seen as a national pride and they represent the future of those countries. Their government goes ahead to protect them against international influences, i remember vividly when Google was having issues in China, it was not only a fight for Google but American government plays key role in that.We have also witnessed the Canadian government throw her full support at RIM/Blackberrry as their national pride.Across the African countries, where lies our national pride in technology?Which brand can we export to the world that can stand as a global brand in technology,that’s what am talking about.We have no pride in Technology all over the world,we are all dependants and that is digital slavery.
In recent times following the exponential growth in Mobile related businesses in Africa,We have all agreed that the future of Africa lies in Mobile,yes,I agree but how many African companies will benefit directly from these mobile boom.It is clear that the people that will directly benefit are the equipment manufacturers(like Nokia, Samsung,Blackberry and others), Software and application developers then the network providers.Which among these have Africa entrepreneurs positioned themselves to benefit from?
A deeper look into this subject brings us to the question:How is the Internet exchanges in Africa developed?Do we have efficient Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) to route our internet traffic and data carrying our critical resources and information?The Internet Exchange Point is an important infrastructure to be considered in national development.
The most worrisome is that this negative effect is handed down from generations to generations;the young generation of African Youths are the ones to lead the change and make things right despite the daunting challenges.We cannot leave Africa the way we met her,We need to take our destinies in our hands.I applaud several tech based initiatives being powered by Young people across Africa,from Kenya,Ghana,South Africa,Egypt,Nigeria, Zambia,Cameroon to other nations in Africa.In all of these, we should understand where we are now,where we need to be and how to get there.We should also know the type of Start- ups we need in Africa right now to make the needed impact.Startups that can put us in the world map among the comity of nations like Facebook,Google, Twitter etc they are not there to fight their government.I have full conviction that African youths have great potentials that can change the world if harnessed and given the right environment.We need to start encouraging more young people to study Physics, Mathematics, Engineering, Software development, Computer Science and related courses.We have dearth of competent professionals in these areas.
I won’t conclude this without suggesting a few things that we need to do now to avert this perpetual digital enslavement.Africa urgently needs her own technologies,technology companies of global repute and a technology work force to handle all her tech needs.The African Union should see technology as a tool that will leapfrog Africa’s development and therefore develop a pragmatic road map for its achievement.The government of African nations should develop policies aimed at developing their nations through technology.They should make special preferences for Africa owned technology businesses and give them the support,protection and encouragement to grow into a global brand.
Investment in technology development should be a deliberate and conscious effort by all Africans.Our leaders and people in government who have stolen public funds should also have the mind to invest in Africa in the area of technology development rather than stash the money in faraway Swiss boosting other economies.
There should be several organisations,government,individuals and businesses who will provide grants,venture funds to young Africans to help them grow their ideas.This is really lacking in Africa.And there lies our future.
And finally our orientation about ourselves should change,we are not inferior in anyway!Viva Africa!!