Saturday, March 26, 2011

Africa's Internet Strides

A composed satellite photograph of Africa.Image via Wikipedia
The Atlantic: The Coming Battle for Africa's Internet: ... the unofficial homepage of the nation. .... the Huffington Post of Senegal -- except with far less in the way of competition. Deeply influential in Senegalese media and politics, it's where obscure reports of government waywardness go viral. On a happening day, the site fetches 200,000 unique visits and 1.3 million hits -- astounding numbers in a nation of 13 million, less than a million of whom can even get online. ....... That traffic has traditionally come not from inside Senegal but from all the motley places where West Africans travel for work -- such as Romania ..... nearly every country in the neighborhood has its Seneweb: Ghanaweb is probably the most influential, followed by Côte d'Ivoire's ...... "But now, the majority of visitors are in Senegal. The internet has taken off here." ...... as internet access becomes cheaper and more widespread ....... Less than ten percent of Africa's population has internet access ..... expects that number to grow by half every year "for the foreseeable future." ..... 100,000 miles of broadband wiring criss-crossing the world's second-largest continent like the 21st century version of a transcontinental railway. The connections start with undersea cables and extend onshore towards 3G towers within reception range of the continent's growing middle class. ......... 300 million people, each earning between $2,000 and $5,000 yearly -- not always enough to keep a router in the living room lit, but certainly enough to pay off a BlackBerry bill. The service they enjoy, smoother than its American equivalent, runs off towers that are newer and more adaptable to data transfers, which is rendering Africa's telecom transition -- from a continent of voice phones to one of pocket PCs -- more scalable than expected. ....... happening faster and faster than anybody could have imagined ..... every ten percent of a country's population that winds up online powers a percentage point and a half of yearly economic growth ...... the World Bank's offices in Sierra Leone and Liberia, which typically focus on building roads or power plants, have allocated $57 million to support a $300 million project to build a broadband cable reaching out to sea. ..... Currently, most internet access in Sierra Leone and Liberia is only by satellite, which restricts it to those who are both extremely rich and extremely patient. ....... "The impact of mobile phones clearly demonstrates that internet is something that can be transformative for the bulk of the population." ...... the converse is true as well: Africa's population could also be transformative for the internet. ...... Google offers a Craigslist-style site where Africans can shop used goods -- sheep, pool tables, balafons (a xylophone-like West African instrument) ...... Last year, Google unfurled Baraza, a question-and-answer forum for Africans ..... a phone-based bookkeeping service for shopkeepers, for example, which could do much in a part of the world where every salesman records his turnover in a notebook. He also wants to add a Blogger service to Seneweb and to sidestep Google Ads by soliciting African companies to buy banners on his site. ...... "You look at Africa, Brazil, China, India, and right there you have almost four billion of the world's consumers," Herlihy says. "They're only going to be happy using products designed for Americans for so long."
This is so exciting. This is when I was pursuing my IC vision a few years ago. It is happening, and fast. Frees up people like me to go tackle the next big thing: microfinance. We are for profit, high tech Kiva that will do the last mile under its own brand name.

Eric Schmidt's Cloud Computing And My IC Vision
JyotiConnect: Executive Summary
Africa: Size Matters
Kayak, Paul English, Africa, Free Wireless Internet
Mobile Phone Banking: Major Boon To The Last Mile Of Microfinance
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