African Nations and the Internet

African Nations and the Internet

The Indian Ocean Newsletter  October  15, 1994
HEADLINE: INDIAN OCEAN: Hooking into Internet
African nations have overcome technical problems (such as poor quality telephone lines) and administrative hurdles (often restrictive legislation) but nevertheless they have recently been able to set up several African links to the world information highways and in particular to the international network Internet. As information technology (IT) becomes more commonplace and essential in modern business, industry and science, the development of links across the African continent will be especially significant for countries of southern and east Africa. It was highlighted at the annual African IT Forum, which was held in Cambridge (Great Britain) from September 28 to 30 on the initiative of a British body, African Information Technology Exhibitions and Conferences (AITEC).

Three delegates, all in senior positions in their own national professional bodies, proposed setting up an African Information Systems Federation to link IT professionals throughout the continent. The proposal was adopted unanimously by the Forum and the three proposers will form the Federation's convening committee: Dr. Adebayo Akinde (first vice-president, Computer Association of Nigeria), Peter Davies (president, Computer Society of South Africa), and Dr. John Onunga (chairman, IT Standards Association of Kenya). The Federation's objectives are developing descriptive communications standards, favouring appropriate training in the use of e-mail (electronic messaging systems) in Africa, and lobbying governments to adapt (or adopt) national legislation to meet the requirements of e-mail.

Thanks to some local initiatives, several countries already have local nodal points to access information highways. In Zimbabwe; the Mango network groups two hundred NGOs, researchers and universities; in South Africa, Sangonet is aimed mainly at NGOs; in Uganda, the University of Makere uses its Mukla network to bring in more than 250 users (in 165 sites, mostly in Kampala); in Kenya, Arccnet links 150 university departments, United Nations agencies, government departments and NGOs to the rest of the world; in Ethiopia, Padisnet was set up in 1991 to allow the thirty-six member states of the UN's Economic Commission for Africa to communicate with each other.

I.O.N.- Regional organizations such as ZEP and SADC (its ten member states held a conference on the subject in Malawi in May), major banks (Barclays, Bank of Zambia), multinationals (Coopers & Lybrand, Shell), and administrations (Kenya Forestry Resources Institute, Tanzania Harbours Authority) all say they are interested in developing e-mail. But access to world information networks will often have to pass through the hurdle of thorough reorganization of domestic structures and important efforts in better training.

Date: Sun, 23 Oct 1994 23:06:47 -0400
Reply-To: "Muaz M. Ata" 
From: "Muaz M. Ata" 
Subject: African Nations and the Internet

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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