Watch out World, Africa is Logging On
I’m reading about a 24-year-old who started a computer skills business in his bedroom and now has three training centers. This isn’t in the San Jose Mercury News, though. It’s in Kenya’s Daily Nation and the young man in question, Stephen Orioki, is more than your average entrepreneur.
As the head of a tech training business in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest shanty towns, he is not so much worried about venture capital as whether he will get through the day without a power cut. His launch pad was the Cisco Networking Academy, which has been training Kiberans since 2007.
He is not the only success story from the Academy in the region. As we report on News@Cisco, hearing-impaired Andrew Nyongesa Wasike, a graduate of an initiative between the Academy and charity Deaf Aid, gained notoriety after testing 80 computers in a day as an IT technician.
Such tales have so far been rare because Africans have not had Internet access. But that is changing. Cisco VP for Africa and Levant Yvon Le Roux says recent years have seen a surge in the number of oceanic cables linking the continent to the rest of the world.
With widespread access to affordable broadband now close to reality, and training increasingly available, how many more Oriokis and Wasikes will we be seeing soon? India has shown how a developing economy can leapfrog developed nations in IT terms once it has access to connectivity.
Unheard of a decade ago, its technology sector now boasts world-leading names such as Bharti, Reliance and Tata Consultancy Services. Will Africa, with a similar-sized population and perhaps even greater incentives to overcome the digital divide, pull off a similar feat?