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Mandate The Future: Us in the developing world thank the lord for piracy! Say you get Telecentres going, teach kids English, they grow up to be experts in IT, but where would we as a country go if we can't afford software? So where do anti piracy laws fit into ICT development? Or should I not be asking you this? (Submitted by Venetian Blind, Online)
Emeagwali: Thanking the lord for software piracy makes as much sense as thanking him for ocean piracy. Software counterfeiting is as illegal as drug trafficking and self-defeating in the long-term.
Mandate the Future: I am a young Ghanaian worker, working in the area of Systems Development. I will be glad to know from the distingue panelists the role Africa can and is playing in this Information and Communication Technology (ICT) driven world and whether ICT is the means for us to develop. And is yes what should we do to achieve that goal? (Leopold Armah, Ghana)
Emeagwali: With 400 school-age children, Africa can produce the next-generation of information technologists. This can be accomplished when governments reduce their spending on military and white elephant projects and increase their education budgets. Instead of having six children, parents should consider having one or two children so that they can provide a better education for the next-generation.
Mandate the Future:
Dr Phillip, At a time when the whole southern countries, especially African countries are fighting against brain drain, I do not understand why you have not yet decided to come back and help Africa? (Sena Alouka, Togo)
Mandate the Future:
Would you mind telling me, please what actually is your contribution to Africa so far? (Sena Alouka, Togo)
Mandate the Future:
In the NEPAD African leaders have not identified ICT as a way of production and exportation. They just talk about developing it. Do you believe in our potentialities to produce technological items and sell them one day? (Sena Alouka, Togo)
Mandate the Future: How can the digital divide be narrowed in communities where resources are scarce and the language barrier is an inhibiting factor? (Bijay Bhatt, Nepal)
Emeagwali: Digital divide can be narrowed by reducing poverty in Asia and Africa. Solving the language barrier creates another problem. While English is the language of choice on the Internet, it will hasten the extinction of thousands of indigenous languages. By the end of this century, 90 percent of the world's language could become extinct. The culture, customs and knowledge embedded in these languages will also become extinct. As we embrace the languages of former colonial masters, the world losses valuable information passed down by word of mouth over several generations. The extinction of any language is an irretrievable loss to humanity. If the early years of educational instruction are not in an indigenous language, then that language is headed for extinction.
Mandate the Future: How Can We Urge a government to review its national policies; in order to remove regulatory and pricing impediments to internet access in order to make sure people are not denied the opportunities offered by the digital revolution? (Olumola Shola Kolawole, Nigeria)
Emeagwali: There is no free lunch. People either pay for their Internet access directly at their local cybercafes or indirectly from taxes paid to the government. I prefer that internet users pay directly to cybercafes.
Mandate the Future: How successful is ICT development projects in the poorer nations in which the level of English education and accessibility to the same is minimal? What are the measures taken to overcome this problem and make the programs more 'useful'? (Vamoosh, Online)
Emeagwali: People cannot effectively use computers and the Internet without a good education. We have to invest in three things: education, education, and education.
Mandate the Future: Why is the Gap between Africa and the rest of the world is so high when it comes to the number of computers per family? What can be the new policy for African government to solve the problem? (Cheikhou Thiome, Senegal)
Emeagwali: A family living on $1000 a year cannot afford to purchase a $1000 computer. In other words, poor families cannot afford computers. Governments cannot afford to buy computers for every poor family. The solution is to increase the standard of living in Africa, and that is a complex and a different question.
Mandate the Future: It costs about 3,000 cedis to print a page letter and between 3,000 -60,00 cedis depending on service to post it to Europe or America which will take between 1- 4 weeks to get to its destination, unlike the internet, with 3,000 cedis depending on practice, one can take about 30 minutes to type and send the same letter with copies to several partners at no extra cost at takes within few minutes to hour to reach it destination as well as the response period. This makes the Internet the preferred choice in both national and international communication depending on the availability of the service. But the cost of installing this facility which pays off within a short period wards off most non-profit organizations especially youth and indigenous women groups May I know how ready and willing the northern agencies are to assist their southern counterparts to access these facilities? (Agyirey-Kwakye, Ghana)
Emeagwali: You need to prepare a business plan and then submit your proposal to potential investors. You can purchase books on writing business plans from amazon.com.
Mandate the Future: If care is not taken, computers will greatly marginalize us folks in the rural areas. We will become the educated illiterate as we can't communicate with our colleagues in the urban areas, how do I send a mail through the internet when I don't even know how to switch a computer on and far more to do a simple word processing? It will be greatly favorable if we also at least get one Computer in this area to be powered by a Photovoltaic Cell, this will give us some insight into ICT, especially before every child complete the basic education program. (Youth Club for Nature Conservation, Ghana)
Emeagwali: First, computers and the Internet are tools and are not what makes one literate and educated. Second, the rural areas in America have 100 million computers and the rural areas in Ghana will need more than one computer. Third, your request for solar-power computers implies that you need electricity more than computers.
Mandate the Future: How do you visualize from your experience and point-of view, a world order 100 years from now and highlight the values and the institutions a) Visualized ideally b) Possible achievements (Uday Rosario, Qatar.)
Emeagwali: If you were to time travel to the future, I believe that you will discover a strange world. My intuition tells me that in the future:
Archived at www.mandatethefuture.org on June 21, 2002.
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