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MDG Contest: Building An Informed Africa Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Richwell Phinias, Zimbabwe Apr 27, 2005
Technology   Opinions
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“Information technology has created avenues for development which are not affected by distance or geography. Africa rise and show the world that you are worth it. Speak out loud AFRICA, silence is betrayal.”

In any set-up the most informed individuals remain the most dominant and powerful over their counter parts. Being more informed gives them a mandate to dictate terms to the less informed, to the extent of undermining their abilities in all aspects of life. That’s where Africa today is pegged, we have been called third world countries, underdeveloped and we appreciate that naming. Would not there be anything superior coming from Africa and telling the world that we are equal.

Because we are less informed and we do not even give a damn about that condition I fear we might remain like that forever. We have been so brainwashed by the most informed and got to an unguided understanding that prosperity depends on where you are other than on who you are and what you can do in which ever environment you are.

Africans we have come to the belief that our countries are dry lands infested with poverty, HIV/AIDS, unemployment and all the inhuman forms that we can imagine. Imagine an African leaving his country for the western world assuming he is going for greener pastures. After having acquired a decent education in Africa on government loans and grants, the African child still feels the government investment was done for the western world.

The key issue here is: there is a gap that needs to be closed in Africa. The opening is so big that it needs many forces to conquer it. Since dynamite comes in small packages I still believe a few inspired hands will make a difference. I hope and believe that since Africans in Diaspora have access to information they will also play a pivotal role in closing the information gap. The story line here is not to be fussy about ICTs, computers and all that follows it. The ICT initiatives have just come at the right time as Africa’s savior.

There is talk all over the NGO network in the western world about setting up ICT initiatives in Africa. African governments are also talking about the same phenomena, e-commerce, e-government, legislation, etc. Though I salute those who are making efforts to establish telecenters, cyber cafes, business centers, internet connections and other supporting services, I have a strong feeling that this will not be the overall solution to Africa’s problems.

What is important here which we are keeping a blind eye on is the I in ICT and IT. The naming of this technology has been branded again and again but the one word that has remained is INFORMATION.

Now what is information and why should it matter at the moment, why all this hype about ICT projects? For the past few years I have seen more ICT centered business proposals than any other business ventures. Along the way I have also written my ICT business proposal that has worked fine. All the Internet cafes I have worked for were new hubs and still more and more are being opened.

From my introduction above you can see how information is a very important part of our sustenance. The reason why Africans are leaving their roots in droves is they have HEARD (they are well informed of course) of greener pastures. That same voice which delivered the greener pastures message should also have preached to Africans that these pastures are in our heads not anywhere outside that.

As Africans we seem to lack inspiration on what ever we do. That is why when a family member becomes rich we try to link his fortune to some long dead grandpa who was a landlord of some sort.

Take a look how information inspires people, oral tradition told along the Shona people about a spirit medium’s predictions inspired Zimbabweans to go to war against the Rhodesian regime.

Now because in the western world there is lots of information on inventors, innovators and explorers, people there have lots of information to inspire them. You would obviously venture into something because you have seen or heard it from somewhere else. So today our Africa needs to be inspired and motivated, the only way is to feed them with the befitting information.

For inspiration we also have our brothers and sisters who have made it here and some abroad, and such information should reach the minds of the African child now. If you want to see how information is a key factor look at how many countries survive without information ministries. Information is power and should be respected as such. A well-informed generation is the generation needed to usher Africa into this emerging knowledge economy.

I believe with Internet access getting across the whole plains of Sub-Saharan Africa and the whole continent, this is the right time for African intellectuals to start building online content/information banks for Africa. The challenge is both to Africans in Diaspora (who by now know that we can not live without information) and those geniuses around to aggressively pioneer information dissemination over the Internet.

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Writer Profile
Richwell Phinias

Richwell Phinias is a Zimbabwean based website developer with a passion to use internet marketing platforms to help Africa's people and enterprise share their story among themselves and with the world. He is the founder and leader of the Dariro.com website.
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