I came across this piece and was highly impressed - I know that the afrian states are investing in IT/telecom infrastructure heavily - but this one really beat all my surprises.Michael Cross of Guardian writes about digital advancement policies of Ethiopia. Excerpts from an interesting article.
Ethiopia, one of Africa's poorest countries, is spending one tenth of its GDP every year on IT. Over the next five years, the government aims to equip hundreds of government offices and schools with broadband internet connections. In two years, none of Ethiopia's population will live more than a few kilometres from a broadband access point. The nucleus of this network, 4,000km of optical fibre, has already been laid and will be fully commissioned later this year. Ethiopia's IT programme is an extreme example of the aspiration of several African countries to leap out of their quagmire of decaying public services with the help of IT. The dream is to skip an entire generation of infrastructure by going directly to internet technology. The PM wants to see ICT pervade all government activities, not just in the urban areas. Today only 1.2% of the population have a telephone. Internet usage is low even by African standards. IT is no luxury, the Ethiopian PM says, but rather a "crucial weapon to fight poverty". The Govt. says the national digital network underpins two specific "pro-poor" projects, to connect schools and local government offices.
Schoolnet is an attempt to overcome Ethiopia's desperate shortage of teachers, especially in remote areas. Schools already receive video lessons broadcast for eight hours a day by satellite TV. The syllabus, is being digitised for transmission over the internet so that teachers at the receiving end can prepare beforehand and control the pace of lessons (so long as their electricity supply is working). The education minister,says there is no alternative to e-learning. "IT is expensive, but ignorance is more expensive." Network connects all 600 of Ethiopia's local councils (woredas) to 11 regional capitals through internet telephone and video-conferencing. Half the links are by cable, and half by satellite. The broadband infrastructure also offers the chance for small towns to install their first payphone. Efficient communications between tiers of government are part of a programme of administrative reform. Today, widespread internet use is a distant dream. Ethiopian internet usage is low: less than 0.1% of the population goes online. According to Internet World Stats, this places it in the same league as Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo and way behind Kenya (1.2%), let alone South Africa (7.3%). Ethiopia has a view on opensource as well : The PM says ,”To implement open source needs a minimum of training and at the moment we don't have that. In five or 10 years time, we will be in a position to choose." Whether the dream of IT helping African countries fast-track to development will become reality is impossible to predict. Ethiopians don't regard themselves as second-class human beings: no outsider is going to persuade them to have second-class ambitions
Category :Information Technology