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Technology

Are there computers in Africa?

Yes, there are computers in Africa, and people own personal computers and laptops just like anywhere else. However, the economic and administrative institutions are not yet as heavily computerized as is the case in the West. These computers are used by individuals and by the public and private sectors of the economy, I believe, to the chagrin of Peter Schwab who gives a rather insulting twist to Gate's appeal to his fellow technological billionaires that they donate money to the poor instead of trying to sell them their products. According to Schwab, Gate's appeal amounts to ".. .what could Microsoft conceivably gain from incorporating Africa into a world globalized network, when its people don't even know if they will survive another 24 hours? The answer, of course, is nothing" (127). It is only fair enough to reiterate the fact that this is meaning given Bill Gate's appeal by Peter Schwab. Schwab must be disappointed to find out that Microsoft and other technological ventures have harvested from Africa, Africa south of the Sahara in particular, as Microsoft products are sold, bought and used all around the continent. It is surprising that Schwab would think this way, even with all the billions the West has generated from exploiting Africa in every way possible ever since the first Westerners set foot on African soil. No, even with Africans not knowing whether or not they will survive the next 24 hours, Africa's oil, minerals, timber, and agricultural products, to name a few, are still carted out of Africa, sometimes under dubious circumstances, by Western ventures.

Schwab's interpretation of Gates' suggestion about Africa and globalization can be compared to somebody declaring that a senior be left to die in his home "unaided" simply because efforts to attempt saving his life after he has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal cancer might be fruitless. But how could it be forgotten that the incentive, of course, is profit and not philanthropy. And, since it is erroneously believed that no prolific business can be established in Africa, since indeed they all have to do with draining the continent, then Africa should be left to rot in her isolation. Great reasoning! Unfortunately then, or fortunately rather, depending on the whim of who the enquirer is, computers are also found in Africa even if in some parts children use cut-out cardboards to learn with, as indicated by Keith Richburg.

For purposes of educating the ignorant, it must be added here that globalization is not as new a trend as today's heirs to the thrones of global exploitation would like the world to believe. By 1995, Charles Keba, in Francis Nyamnjoh's The Disillusioned African had already isolated this practice in the hands of one of those, today, appropriately called "economic hitmen" courtesy of John Perkins. Keba writes to Moungo:

Perhaps no one is interested in real knowledge about Africa. No doubt I have met some so-called World Bank experts many times. But they have done most extraordinary things! Imagine someone sent to find out about livestock breeding in Africa. Once he arrives, instead of going to the rural areas where this breeding takes place in its most rudimentary form, he remains in the economic and political capitals, where he holds one political or business meeting after another — asking bureaucrats what livestock breeding in the country is like.. (Just like asking a monkey what life is like in the sea!) When he is satisfied, he writes a report to which the invariable conclusion remains: 'Donc, pour répondre `la question si l'Afrique peut partir ou non, je peux, `travers mes études profondes dans dix pays Africains conclure sans faille que: L'Afrique est sure le point final de partir. Il faut alors renforcer l'aide économique, politique, technique et culturelle' (Thus, to answer the question whether Africa is ready or not, I can confidently state, on the basis of in-depth studies I have carried out in ten African countries, that Africa is on the verge of taking off. Accordingly, it is necessary to intensify economic, political, technical and cultural aid). And for such an expert conclusion, the World Bank gives him enough million dollars not only to preserve him for future research projects, but to enable him to live like an academic prince for the rest of his life. The more experienced he becomes, the more his subsequent studies are to be concluded before they are carried out. Perhaps you are unaware that many are the experts who go into the field with their conclusions in their briefcases. There are countless examples of this.... (translation mine 35)

Before 1995, and even the years documented by John Perkins in his Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, globalization started when the first explorers left their homelands in search of foreign markets and raw materials to feed the demands of their starving economies. Globalization, one might say, only metamorphosed into the next and most devastating stage by going "high-tech"—one flight across the world from continent to continent, puppet administrators installed and then conference calls with videophones are used to monitor the performances of puppet economic administrators around the globe to the benefit of world economic capitals. Africa cannot therefore be bypassed; her exploitation is only made more subtle by such claims.

There are computers in Africa, but just as is the case with cars, they remain very expensive and without credit facilities as can be found in the West, the African has to save and then buy his computer paying for it cash and at once.

Are there African cars in the market?

Not yet. Africa imports most of her cars from Japan and other European countries like France and Germany. As of present, there are only car assembly plants in some African countries like Nigeria and Egypt.

Is it true Africa is yet to be industrialized?

Africa is industrialized, but not to the extent of Western countries and those of Asia. This is as a result of colonial policies in Africa. While Europe was experiencing the agrarian and industrial revolution, she was ensuring that Africa remained at the primary phase of the manufacturing chain—the supplier of raw materials and nothing else. This is the case because whereas new farming techniques were imposed on Africa as well as the crops to be grown, the technical aspect of the manufacturing process was never exported to Africa. In the meantime, Africa was denied the chance of evolving in any way by the practice of colonialism. Africans, during the colonial era, were encouraged and more often forced to continue the farming and harvesting of raw materials they really did not need, or the mining of valuable stones and metals, which were then exported to Europe where they were processed. Africa, as a result, remained largely unindustrialized compared to the rest of the world, since they were only permitted to till and mine but never let in on the "secrets" of transforming raw materials into finished products. The colonialist imposed their ways on Africa but held as tight secrets those that could transform Africans into rivals in any way. Accordingly, Africans remained at the primary level of every Western process imported into the continent by the colonialists. The industrialization of the continent is underway though.

Do you have television stations?

Yes, there are television stations and some as old as from the fifties. Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Ibadan was Africa's first television station and it came into existence in 1959 as the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV). According to M.I. Egbon, "Television transmission began in Western Nigeria on October 31, 1959. This service which was initiated by a Regional Government was not only the first in Nigeria, but remains today the oldest in the whole of the African continent" (qtd. in Umeh 56). Today, however, there are modern TV stations in Africa that can be compared to any elsewhere in the world. The level of technological advancement, however, differs between different nations, with Libya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Egypt being some of the most advanced. Again, depending on where one is, the reception is sometimes poor. Then there are fewer channels in many African countries, since the governments, which use it as propaganda machinery against rivaling political factions, are still monopolizing the television, in most cases. Although many governments are now beginning to relinquish this chokehold on the media, especially on television, it is yet to gain grounds as a major business asset as is the case in much of the rest of the world.

 
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