The fascinating Newsnight report ('Kenya's Mobile Revolution'), broadcast this week, shows how the arrival of modern communications technology can provide genuine hope for the future of Africa.
The arrival of internet access via the UN clockwork laptop could even show the way for a new kind of economic system, suited to Africa's hostile geography and climate. To allow farmers to bipass the normal outlets for their harvests and sell (or exchange) directly on the international markets, for instance. Information really does confer power.
It would also seem reasonable to expect that when different regions of the same post-colonial African state are in regular trade and dialogue, that the post-colonial version of tribalism will change, and that synthetic hostility between tribes will become more difficult.
The traditional power structures may also be subverted by the increased role of women. And with access to free online education of the highest quality, such as the M.I.T. project, the goal of a dynamic Africa, unburdened by debt, geography or history must be a big step nearer.
In short, the implications for Africa are enormous, as the Newsnight report on the effects of mobile telephones will show. But with the first UN laptops arriving in communities from July, not to mention the long-term effects of 'micro-banking', the western world can expect to be dealing with a very different Africa in the future. And by implication, a different world. The hopeful predictions are beginning to come true. What will the pessimists say now?
And what will the Man from Del Monte and Nescafe say when he arrives to find the harvest has already been sold?
More interesting, if possible, is the light this all sheds on the ways in which technology and social change are interwoven. That an inhumanly hot, almost un-navigable, harsh terrain need not be subjected to the devastation of C20th technologies, or economics, in order to become a viable, humane, prosperous nation, able to care for its people and free them from the dehumanising drudgeries which in Britain are now folk memories, or the grittier scenes in TV costume dramas.
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