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From Cairo to Nairobi – Eye to Eye at the Touch of a Button

In my last blog, “Africa – Connected Continent – At last”, I described how the arrival of affordable internet bandwidth in Africa is enabling companies to use technology to transform how they do business. Today at Cisco we have realised huge efficiencies in how we conduct our business internally and we have fundamentally changed how we communicate and collaborate with customers and partners, thanks to TelePresence.

TelePresence allow people to meet face to face over the network without the need to travel. Participants enjoy a high definition, high quality, life-size video experience and can share rich media content. We can now bring in subject matter experts from over one thousand Cisco TelePresence rooms across the globe and put them together with the vast majority of our workforce in Africa as if they were sat just across the table from each another; all at the touch of a button. In fact we can connect Cisco’s TelePresence rooms with any customer or partner TelePresence room, provided they have a B2B exchange with Cisco, so the possibilities are huge.

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Africa – Connected Continent – At Last

If you haven’t looked at opportunities in Africa in the last couple of years, it’s time to take another look. A massive amount of new internet connectivity is creating new possibilities for the continent, changing the face of Africa forever.  The economic and social development opportunities created by high speed, stable and affordable internet access were something that the people of Africa could only dream of until relatively recently – now that dream is fast becoming a reality. Read More »

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Africa: No Longer the Dark Continent

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

After writing several recent posts on the telecom infrastructure efforts of Connect Africa, I’ve gotten a much better sense of what’s going on there from an ICT standpoint. The conventional wisdom for places like Africa states that it has the potential to achieve telecom parity more quickly than the U.S. and Europe did.

Why? Because it can skip the cost of wireline installations and go straight to wireless. An easier infrastructure, a faster deployment, a more rapid road to the connected life. The question, perhaps, is that optimism unfounded?

You might think so if all you saw was the political news coming out of Africa over the last weeks of 2010: bombings in Johannesburg; a disputed election in Ivory Coast; secession in Sudan; Kenyan politicians named in a drug dealing scandal. Telecom operators are no different than any other business — they’re attracted by stability and repelled by instability.

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How Online Video is Fostering Global Innovation

Viewing “TED talks” online is one of my favorite sources of inspiration. TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” It started in 1984 as a conference, bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED).

In a presentation earlier this year, TED’s curator, Chris Anderson, says the rise of online video is enabling a worldwide phenomenon he calls “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” — a self-fueling cycle of learning that could be as significant as the invention of the printing press.

He adds, to tap into its power, organizations will need to embrace radical openness.

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20 Billion Bits Under The Sea

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

In Jules Verne’s 1869 novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarine cruises past the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The book was published only three years after the first successful attempt to lay the undersea cable and was as wondrous at the time as Verne’s story. It connected New York and London and transmitted eight words per minute.

Businessman Cyrus Field first attempted to connect the two continents in 1858. He made five more attempts before he was successful, though it almost bankrupted him in the process. As historian Gillian Cookson said in a PBS documentary, “It was really a tool of commerce and a tool of news agencies. But because information could be passed so quickly and news could travel between the continents, [it was] revolutionary.”

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