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(MDG Contest) Henry Ford: Bridging the Information Divide in Africa Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Richwell Phinias, Zimbabwe Apr 27, 2005
Technology   Opinions
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Henry Ford was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and is credited with the creation of a middle class in American society. He was one of the first to apply assembly line manufacturing to the mass production of affordable automobiles. This achievement not only revolutionized industrial production, it had such tremendous influence over modern culture that many social theorists identify this phase of economic and social history as "Fordism".

The origins of the VW Beetle car date back to 1930's Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler's desire that almost anybody should be able to afford a car fit with a proposal by car designer Ferdinand Porsche, although Hitler himself played some role in the car's shape and, possibly, nickname. Dissatisfied with the initial design of the car's front end (and perhaps caught up in the 30's mania for all things streamlined) Hitler penned a more rounded shape on a napkin and handed it to Porsche with the instructions, "it should look like a beetle, you only have to look to nature to find out what true streamlining is". The intention was that ordinary working Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme.

In Zimbabwe today and the expanse of Africa and thus the major part of the third world defined, we are so called because of where we are today. In such countries, typically we have a massive foreign debt, frequently exceeding the NDP (National Domestic Product). The economy is frequently controlled by the IMF (International Monetary Fund), which orients production away from sustainable local growth towards large-scale cash crop production for export to foreign countries.

Under such management, education and health are slashed to a fraction of expenditure before IMF control, and social welfare is non-existent. The majority of people struggle to earn enough to eat, and still frequently cannot meet the high cost of basic sustenance (food, shelter and clothing).

The reality we currently live in Africa today is that of poverty, HIV/AIDS, illiteracy, civil wars, failure to contain natural disasters and unemployment. The picture that the western world, which obviously dominates the world press and information dissemination, shows is that of a wanting Africa. Many motivational speakers talk about the fact that: we become what we always listen to. Reading through one online collection of African news articles on Allafrica.com you realize emphasis is on the negative side of things in Africa.

If there is any headline positive, it is about some NGO pledging to donate money to a western nation endorsed country. The other news in pictures and compassion stories all depict a doomed Africa.

This article is not an all out hate statement but what I want to make clear, dear reader, is that Africa is looking for inspired individuals who can collectively bargain for its rightful position in the world.

Like the heroism of particular individuals in history, sometimes looking at history their way will create a need within Africa and its people to aspire to be better. Quoting Henry Ford famed for the Ford Motor Company he says, "History is more or less bunk. It's tradition. We don't want tradition. We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker's damn is the history we make today".

Like the need for a car for the majority during Ford’s time and the same in Nazi Germany, today in Africa we are at a position, which gives us access to make history. Our plethora of damaging accolades is an opportunity to make the present history.

To move from our present scenario men and women with visions of a brighter Africa are what we need. It’s scary to say positive things about the future when you are in a dark present. Many theorists and pessimists will call for your neck. Experiences of Joseph the dreamer and David the king show us the bad side of saying you are going to make it.

The car industry was once a platform for America's and Europe’s growth and today the IT world is a springboard for Africa’s development. It is only as such when it is done by Africans with an African perspective focusing on global satisfaction.

Africans in Diaspora like Professor Philip Emeagwali have done Africa proud technology-wise. Africans locally are doing great things especially in the software field. Such young companies like Venekera Works Technologies, Adept Systems and a plethora of software programmers are doing well.

Today to take Africa to the other side I believe we have to embrace technology, look out for the new opportunities it offers in such areas as software development, website development, biotechnology and even computer hardware. In Nigeria we have Zinox producing computers the same way as Dell or any other international computer manufacturing company.

The Asian tigers have moved ahead of us by embracing information and communication technologies and it has only happened in so short a time. In America itself the only industry that has created billionaires in two decades is the information technology industry. Names like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, Paul Allen, George Bezos, and Larry Page adorn such magnificent corporates like Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and Amazon these and other big elephants of the American corporate world come from no other than the information technology sector.

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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.

great suprise
Richwell Phinias | Apr 27th, 2006
great suprise to have this article. thanks for the exposure.

oooh My,he has done it!
Francis Awinda | Apr 28th, 2006
Richie you got it well in perspective and i believe that for there to be some serious achievements to the MDG goals such grassroot ideas like yours are what we need for Africa..a localised approach to MDG achievement.Thanks for putting it right!!!!!!

Great article!
Sherian Randle | Apr 28th, 2006
I agree with you 100%!! It is time for the brilliance of Africans to be shared with the world!

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