Tech4Africa

Communication drives the web

2010-08-12 12:56
Delegates sit in the auditorium as the Tech4Africa gets underway. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Delegates sit in the auditorium as the Tech4Africa gets underway. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Information wars begin - expert
Information wars begin - expert

The expansion of the internet in developing countries and the resistance by governments signals the start of the information wars, an expert says.

Johannesburg - The Tech4Africa conference kicked off on Thursday with an emphasis on communication.

About 400 delegates were told that communication was central to human domination as a species on the planet, and that cloud computing would soon become a reality.

“In Africa, we are the bandwidth have nots,” said Dereck Wilcocks of Internet Solutions. He acknowledged that the situation was different in developed nations, but added that Africa is changing in terms of internet availability.

He emphasised the role of open communication platforms like micro-blogging site Twitter in reaching the mass market, even when governments tried to block out information.

Power of the internet


“The Twitter revolution in the Iranian election process in June 2009 and even when China suppressed the Uighur uprising, they blacked out the area for about 10 months, yet we see the power of the internet,” Wilcocks said.

He was adamant in the power of the internet to play a role in facilitating communications on a global scale, but also acknowledged the negatives associated with the web.

“The negative examples continue to entertain, but to me the positive examples deserve our attention. Black and Decker produces sales videos and posts them on YouTube,” said Wilcocks, adding that digital content was cheaper for companies than producing armies of sales personnel and materials.

He also warned companies on the power of the web.

Paradigm shift in technology


“More than 68 million people regularly blog and post reviews online. Can your organisation afford to ignore them?” he asked.

Wilcocks said that while research by MIT indicated that employees with large online networks were 7% more productive than those who didn’t have them, 30% of employees were more productive with face-to-face networks.

“I hope this conference gives us a paradigm shift in technology,” he said.

The Tech4Africa conference runs until Friday.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
 

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