One of the current hottest things in the technology world right now is the I-cloud concept. This innovation which is being pioneered by Apple Company will enable users to save their files and documents online, instead of the normal hard drives and CD-ROMs.
The advantages of this are obvious, as it will provide a potentially larger place for computer users to save their files in, and storing ones documents in apples servers will potentially be safer from viruses and hackers than the laptops and PCs that people are used to. Add the potential long term effects it will have on the computer industry, such as promoting tele-working and leading to smaller, lighter and cheaper computers, and it is easy to see why the technology gurus and many computer users are beside themselves at this latest computer innovation.
However, this excitement is not being felt in Africa to the same extent as in Europe, America and china, where kids go to the extent of selling their kidneys just to acquire the latest gadgets. With some of the world’s lowest Internet penetration percentages, prohibitive costs of these gadgets and low computer literacy among the population, it is no surprise that the I-cloud has been greeted with little fanfare in many parts of Africa. Instead, the new gizmos are left to be status symbols among the wealthy and connected, and objects of envy for the population that is aware of them, while the older and less wealthy and marginalized members of society could not be bothered.
One of the biggest impacts of the telecommunication boom in the world has been to unite large segments of the world’s population through social networks, and promote globalization as well as information transfer. However it has also led to creating a dichotomy between the educated and less-educated members of African society. As we continue to ‘digitize’ most of our activities such as business activities, social relations and political organization and participation, the gap between the socio-economic classes will be more entrenched in Africa.
Thus the dualistic nature of most of the developing economies will continue to widen. Look at the example of those not connected to M-Pesa and the business, financial opportunities that pass them by!!It is imperative that the governments make computer studies a compulsory subject in the primary school syllabus, subsidies computer lessons for the adult population that is oblivious to the world of facebook, e-government and e-commerce, as well as ensure in its haste to digitize its records and transactions, it remembers the illiterate, ignorant and marginalized of the population.
Otherwise the greatest legacy of the internet in Africa will be dividing the haves and have-nots even further, and promoting social and economic divisions in the continent. The “common mwananchi” has to be the centre of the government’s ICT policy.