Will Technology Impact Africa ?

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The emergence of Technology in sub Saharan Africa is an intriguing topic. The world is evolving socially and economically, and Science and Technology plays a vital role in it. We live in a world filled with an abundance of Technology, for example phones, tablets, cars, computers, and GPS’s. These are a few objects we as human beings can’t go a day without. We depend on these items in order to keep in contact with our love ones or find directions to desired locations.

The Western world is known for its major advances in Science and Tech, whilst the continent of Africa is known for poverty, illness and corruption. However, the western world is oblivious to the rise of Science and Tech in African countries like Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria in the field of Computer Science and innovation. Technology is already existent in Africa, but it is also the major tool that will help the continent on its journey or embarkation to a better future. A future where corruption will be eradicated, and also a future where governments will take the initiative to invest in education, agriculture and infrastructure.

In a video titled Code of Africa, The Emergence of Computer Science in Ghana and Uganda. Gregg Zachary the speaker, highlights and stresses on many factors and ideas, that are enthralling. Mr. Zachary states, there aren’t any doctorate programs in some of these countries so most of these individuals who plan on receiving a doctorate have to travel abroad to receive it. These are some of the issues Africans faces on the spectrum of education. On the other hand, he makes it known that in the nearer future African computer scientists or innovators voices will be heard. “Made in Africa” is the main goal for many African computer scientist ,and that’s what the speaker conveys.

Africa is not what the media portrays on the internet or television. There is a whole different side to Africa. As an individual who spent the first eleven years of his life on a continent predominantly filled with third world nations. It makes me joyous when well known technology companies are helping with the construction of a better Africa. With the rise of innovation on the continent, the future is definitely bright for young Africans. Africa is always perceived in a negative manner when it comes to development in Science and Technology. High profile media always seem to talk about the continent when only bad things happen (BBC).

Furthermore, the BBC article examines the perspective of African citizens, by sharing thoughts and insights and going against some of the false narrative bestowed upon the continent. Technology is making major waves in Africa and the middle class in sub Saharan Africa is also expanding at a record pace. Africa is seemingly changing and there is an unstoppable growth in mobile phones, Internet cafes, resources, and educational opportunities. “Change is happening, and more people have disposable incomes to spend “(BBC). The technological advances in Africa are helping its citizens both in saving and spending money. Technology is basically gentrifying the continent. Saving and spending money is also generating interest from high end companies like IBM to invest in the future of Africa.

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However, this also raises a question, is IBM investing in Africa to help the younger generation of Africans , or are they doing it to gross revenue? Is there something expected in return for the well-known tech company? IBM having a research facility in Africa is a way to help Africans achieve success in the tech world. In order to combat the major issues African nations faces in education, healthcare, running water, and science and technology, research has to be done in Africa with a coalition of Africans and foreigners. As stated by Dr. Uyi Stewart, a chief scientist at the IBM lab in Nairobi Kenya, “In order to capture value, and deliver innovation that leads to commercially viable products that impact people’s lives, we have to be here, in the local ecosystem”(BBC). Being in the local “ecosystem” grants new knowledge and expands growth. At the end of the day an invention made in Africa and also made by Africans is what African technologist are looking forward to creating in the near future. IBM taking the initiative to start research in Africa is a start to various tasks that will play a vital role in the future and spark change. A change that will impact the face of Africa for the better and grant major opportunities for examples, schools having a better access to computers, hospitals having reliable machinery, and also an increase in agriculture, which will impact the role of farmers in society. Every year something new is out when it comes to technology. We are in the golden age and tech is taking over the world. Even tough, others fear the rapid growth of technology, the evolution of technology is a great cause for humanity. Technology has essentially made everything less challenging for humans. The burden on human beings have dropped drastically.

Furthermore, an article written by a young African entrepreneur comes forth with a solution to broaden and expand farming via technology in Africa. Will technology help farmers in a third world continent like Africa? Technology will assist more young farmers more so than older farmers because of traditional customs and old beliefs. As stated in the article “ but most farmers are still only marginally improving yields. Some continue to use traditional process that depend on historical norms, or use tools likes hoes and cutlasses that have not evolved properly” (Ekekwe). Some Africans are very superstitious when it comes to certain issues, these traits are instilled in you at a young age and it is usually present amongst the older generations. Even though, these norms are fading away, it is still prevalent in some communities. “It’s common for farmers to plant according to the phase of the moon and attribute variability in their harvest to gods rather than to their own methods”(Ekekwe). These are some of the obstacles farmers faces in Africa, the lack of evolvements.

In addition to the problems African farmers face is the affordability of machinery. So with the evolvement of science and tech in fields like cloud computing, computing system and open-source software. Tools, and machinery will become more accessible and affordable which in turn, will help provide solutions to farmers. Moreover, technological outlets like drones and soil sensors are making it possible to manage crop growth. Automated systems are providing early warnings when there are factors causing bad growth. Companies are stepping up trying to help the continent of Africa. As stated in the article “for Africa, which is projected to be home to about 2 billion people in 2050, the farm productivity must accelerate at a faster rate than the global average to avoid continued mass hunger” (Ekekwe). In order to avoid mass hunger, digital technology has to be implemented and used effectively.

Technology is a macrocosm of variety of items. Each item has its own identity or definition. In essence, each item has its own function. When the topic of technology is brought up, people tend to focus on a couple of items in particular, a computer, a tablet or a cellular phone. These items are modern day technology and it drives popular culture forward in the fields of education and communication. There is an abundance of technology and they all have their own function but technology that comes with computation is impacting the world.

We are in a new generation. A generation where kids learn how to play on tablets before walking. The evolution of technology is helping kids learn at a rapid pace. Game applications or apps downloaded on phones and tablets are very informative. These apps are assisting kids in their 123’s and abc’s at a very young age. Technology is playing a major role in building early literacy at a high rate. Due to technology, an educational software has been utilized to develop early literacy skills in sub-Saharan Africa(Abrami). A software called ABRA in short for ABRACADABRA (A Balanced Reading Approach for Children and Designed to Achieve Best Results for All) is probably one of the greatest things to ever happen on the continent of Africa. ABRA is helping kids develop literacy skills at an early age. Moreover, ABRA is also a unique way for kids to learn how to use technology at an early age as well. Not every child is fortunate to learn their abc’s and 123’s at an early age via a tablet, a smartphone or a computer. The research of ABRA was based in Kenya where students attended a computer lab every week for 90 minute lessons(Abrami). The process was done consecutively throughout a thirteen-week period. After the thirteen weeks period came to an end, major success in reading comprehension were present amongst ABRA students(Abrami). The success by ABRA students proved that educational technology is a quicker way to gain early literacy skills. The purpose of ABRA was to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of the software (Abrami). The software proved to be effective in teaching students.

ABRA is a significant outlet for learning, but there are also serious problems African college and K-12 institutions face in the IT field in countries like Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa. All of these countries are helping with the up rise of innovation and technology through teaching and researching. Although most of these countries faces the same issues, they all approach them in a different way. The challenges faced in each of these countries are similar but each one has its own unique issue(McMahon). The predominant issues most of these countries faces are educational infrastructure, poorly ran K-12, lack of qualified teachers, resources such as

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books , computers and Internet connection in rural areas (McMahon). Why do these countries face the same problem? The lack of school funding and corruption is why most sub Saharan countries face these kinds of problems. From a first-hand experience, not every k-12 school in Africa has a computer in their classroom. Students don’t have access to computers on a daily basis. The only time a computer is available is when computer classes are in session which is very rare. School donations and funds are usually pocketed by higher officials.

Further, the lack of investment in education leads to youth illiteracy. Illiteracy is existent everywhere in the world. According to the United Nations fund in 2012 nearly 90% of illiterate youth live in Southeast Asia (65 million) and Sub-Saharan Africa (47 million) (Abrami). Poverty and the lack of education is the main cause of illiteracy in third world countries. Third world countries are depicted as developing nations. Developing nations lack all kinds resources and funds due to corruption by their governments. To limit the number of the illiterate in Africa corruption needs to be combated and eradicated. Money has to be invested in schools, and it also has to stay away from the pockets of politicians. With the evolution of technology, education is the future of Africa. Education is the key that will open up doors for the continent of Africa. With money invested in education access to computers will be available to schools and it will help with the exposure of technology amongst the youth and spark innovation.

Technology is essentially part of our lives. We can’t go a day without it. We depend on technology to help us maneuver throughout the day. Technology is viable, it helps us move from one component to the other ,and it is arguably the most powerful tool on planet earth. With government assistance technology will be very beneficial on the continent of Africa.

Refrences

Abrami, P.C., Wade, C.A., Lysenko, L. et al. Educ Inf Technol (2016) 21: 945. https://doi-org.proxygw.wrlc.org/10.1007/s10639-014-9362-4

citruse. “Code for Africa: The Emergence of Computer Science in Ghana and Uganda.” YouTube, YouTube, 13 Mar. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BElxeJZxNo.

Ekekwe, Ndubuisi. “How Digital Technology Is Changing Farming in Africa.” Harvard Business Review, 18 May 2017, hbr.org/2017/05/how-digital-technology-is-changing-farming-in-africa

Graham, Fiona. “Why the World’s Technology Giants Are Investing in Africa.” BBC News, BBC, 15 Oct. 2013, www.bbc.com/news/business-24524260

McMahon, Russell. The Challenges of Information and Communications Technology Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Proceeding SIGITE ’15 Proceedings of the 16th Annual Conference on Information Technology Education, 30 Sept. 2015, delivery.acm.org.proxygw.wrlc.org/10.1145/2810000/2808032/p89-mcmahon.pdf?ip=198.91.37.2&id=2808032&acc=ACTIVE%20SERVICE&key=7777116298C9657D%2E9364A56981DA9955%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35%2E4D4702B0C3E38B35&CFID=815012716&CFTOKEN=50106213&__acm__=1506786866_ab42dd6476bccf0a6e64d9d11d9956f8.

“The next Frontier.” The Economist, The Economist Newspaper, 16 Feb. 2013, www.economist.com/news/business/21571889-technology-companies-have-their-eye-africa-ibm-leading-way-next-frontier