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High Tech in Africa: Geeks Needed

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the pay-isn't-great-and-neither-are-the-tse-tse-flies dept.

News 183

srl writes: "The Boston Globe is running a series about high tech in Africa--- talking about how the continent needs a lot of geeks willing to work there to build Net infrastructure. (Anyone want to take on a big project?) The series as a whole is interesting and sheds light on a topic that most American geeks probably don't spend time thinking about. See also part 1, about the new high-speed fiber link to Africa and part 2, about cybercafes in Africa."

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183 comments

africa needs food, not networking infrastructure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64517)

and some free aids medication would come in handy too...

w00t! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64518)

I can tell that this article will be full of quality discussion, with absolutely no racist posts whatsoever! Go Slashdot!

Re:Great experience... with a few drawbacks... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64519)

There's a difference between 'poverty' and a substistence lifesyle. Poverty is America's inner-city, you can't grow your food in a tenement. A lot of these people who live in the rural area are at least self supporting.

Re:africa needs food, not networking infrastructur (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64520)

Education is just as important as those other things, and the Internet will help there! Teach a man to fish, etc.

Put Your Skill Where Your Mouth is.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64521)

Great article about Africa. So many of you seem to know what's best for the entire continent of Africa. Well, please do join us in finding some real solutions. We're looking for some consultants to do multimedia development work in Uganda. If you want to work with highly motivated and skilled Ugandans in an excellent multimedia development lab and really see what it is like on the ground then please let me know. We could use some help and not just a bunch of skilled but unaware people talking smack. If you're up for the challenge and have an open mind and really want to make an impact then join us. Consultant Posting Listed Below. http://www.aed.org/employment/openings/consulting/ consulting.html

dumb ideas never die (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64522)

Good cause, wrong arcticle.

Several sobering comments come to mind.

  1. Africa is not homogeneous, Egypt != South Africa != Rwanda != Congo != Congo != Algeria etc.
    Consequently, you have to sort out language, stability, security, economic and technical issues before jumping on this. Trust me on this one.
  2. Infrastructure projects have a lousy track record as a development aid.
    Always the first to benefit are multinational corporations exporting and controlling those projects.
    Always second to benefit are local power brokers.
    Almost never to benefit is the local population.
  3. More often than not, by going there you are going to draw on local resources more than you contribute.
    E.g. consider whether your job could be putting someone local into some money, even if she is only second best for the job. This is true even if you don't take any money - Who's paying those tickets, your health insurance etc.?
  4. More often than not paid and unpaid volunteers don't connect well to the local community due to culture shock, bi-directional racism and simply quality of life issues. This further reduces the efficiency of such aid.
  5. Technical infrastructure is a necessity for banks, airlines, natural resources companies and governments. They are willing to pay for it. Let them get a discount if you wish, but don't confuse such 'development' with an internet café 'infrastructure'.
  6. In Africa there are many hungry, unproductive, uneducated people with low life expectancy and bad medical care (no insult meant). More often than not direct and indirect threat of violence dictates politics, economy and social life.
    These are the worthy issues to be addressed. Once a country is stable, with a minimal economic infrastructure, food production, health care and education, without hostile neighbors, sustaining development is a piece of cake.

With these basic, but unwelcome messages in mind, what can YOU do?

  1. Open source. Honestly, this is important! Look at how eastern Europe is both using and creating in open source software to get an idea.
  2. Direct aid. Old PCs, vehicles, broken hardware, over 50% of the stuff we just throw away since it's uneconomical to repair, could get reused, repaired or recycled there.
    Consequently, people collecting and shipping such things, as well as establishing local receiving communities and building the necessary skills are all important tasks for which nobody needs to travel.
  3. Spread the knowledge about specific countries and specific projects and issues. Build support. Make people care.
  4. Support businesses in developing countries. Buy from them, educate them, get them an old photocopier, printer, etc.
  5. Work politically. Don't export arms. Lobby for medication to be sold at manufacturing cost. Pressure for human rights, democracy and a free press. Value cultural diversity.
  6. Lobby African countries to curb population growth and devastating overuse of natural resources and religious fanatism. Be specific and don't generalize. Fight racism.

See, without moving from your desk, there's lots of things to do.

Been There, Done That (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#64524)

OK, some of you talk about the bad things. Let's look at these:

  • low/no pay
    As a former PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) I can attest to the value of PC on your resume. Also, believe it or not, there is more to life than money. You might just learn something about yourself and/or the world if you get out of your server room.

  • Parasites/bugs/disease du jour
    Humans have been on this planet for an awful long time and PC, for one, has excellent healthcare. So what if you get Dengue fever (I did) or a few parasites (got them too). The benefits of your experience will far outweigh any foolish American fears of a few microbes. There are 750 million people in Africa - obviously Africa is a great place to live, else there'd be zero. Finally on this topic - most diseases/parasites are easily avoided by simple hygiene - boil your water, don't have unprotected sex...

  • violence/corruption/etc.
    yes, some of these places have violence and most are very corrupt (by the American definition) but, then, that's why they are developing countries. Look around you. violence and corruption are a part of even an American life. Are you so naiive as to believe our gov't. is free of corruption? Go to a developing country, learn to work the system and when you return, you'll be like one of Paul Atredies' Fremen on a new planet - you'll work circles around your stupid co-workers. (ok, bad analogy)

  • Poor/bad/non-existent infrastructure
    You gain strength from doing the thing you think you can not do. I built a computer lab in a rural rice-farming village where there is no running water and little electricity. If you've got what it takes, you can do anything!

Still reading? Maybe YOU have what it takes. PeaceCorps [peacecorps.gov] The toughest job you'll ever love!

Re:I wonder what the pay would be... (2)

Micah (278) | more than 12 years ago | (#64525)

Well, some geeks are not necessarily money focused and might just want to help the people. After all, isn't that why we work on Open Source Software?

---

Re:you are dumb (3)

Micah (278) | more than 12 years ago | (#64526)

Actually, you *do* need "tech" people to set up running water, wells, power grids, solar/wind energy, better crop yield and that sort of thing. It's called appropriate technology, and people study to do basically that sort of thing in poor countries. A college roommate of mine studied that for a couple years.

Of course it's a slightly different kind of "tech" than your average geek. But there could be some overlap.
---

Foday Sankoh, foreigners as targets, et. al. (2)

jabbo (860) | more than 12 years ago | (#64527)

Somehow I managed to omit that rather critical detail. The world did not make Sankoh the leader of the rebels; rather, it rewarded his savage violence as expressed through the RUF (chopping children's legs and arms off, sewing womens' vaginas shut with fishing line, and padlocking villagers' mouths shut for the simple crime of being outside the RUF) by endorsing a peace accord which made him Vice President of the entire country.

It's as if the UN had endorsed Hitler for Prime Minister of Israel.

No wonder most of Africa continues to starve in poverty. With 'friends' like the US, who needs enemies? Note to self: there are organizations even more cynical than Microsoft and Monsanto, and my tax dollars are paying for them. Woohoo!

In any event, no amount of fiber optic cable is going to improve the lives of people in countries like Sierra Leone until decent leaders are nudged into power and the economies can be built up to the point that ordinary citizens are not preoccupied with starvation, AIDS, and fleeing from murderous warlords.

Bonus: foreign aid workers will also be less likely targets for torture, murder, and mutilation if there is some incentive for leaders to act like moderately civilized human beings (as opposed to criminally insane sadists). This means you, Network Boy...

Africa needs self-generated wealth and leaders (3)

jabbo (860) | more than 12 years ago | (#64528)

And I would have to say that is more critical than internet connectivity.

Hard to use a keyboard when RUF rebels have chopped your hands off (Sierra Leone), when your entire city has been murdered (Rwanda), or you're dizzy from exhaustion because the food and supplies to your region have been obliterated by land mines for the third time in as many months and you're starving to death (Angola), or you're busy dying of AIDS (one out of every four people in subsaharan Africa). An ISP is not going to help the common man in these countries nearly as much as an international body with a spine (eg. one that would not agree to make Foday Sankoh, the leader of the vicious, terrorist RUF rebels in Sierra Leone) or something akin to dignity, especially on the part of the US and France. God knows it couldn't hurt to have more of the world's masses aware of the hell that exists in most of West and Central Africa, though -- if .JPGs and fiber optics will do the trick, by all means, that's a worthy goal. Still, the only useful wealth in the long term comes from within an economy, never from without.

As usual, foreign 'aid' is best suited for generating contempt and dependency. Vietnam, for example, is doing quite well these days, in spite of America's best efforts. Meanwhile the majority of Africa outside of Egypt and Tunisia continues to go straight to hell, as the world cynically manipulates the 'leaders' to exploit its resources, and ignores millions of civilians being killed as an indirect consequence of our (Western) foreign policy decisions.

Somehow, even in a forum like /. (where this over-focus on technology is not only appropriate but part of the appeal), it seems like talk of wiring up Africa is another pathologically Western case of putting the cart before the horse.

Re:Forget it (2)

iabervon (1971) | more than 12 years ago | (#64529)

you have to have horses before you have cars, you know

Actually, I've been to Sierra Leone (shortly before the government fell), and they had plenty of cars and no horses, at least in Freetown. There's no particular reason not to skip levels of technology, if the higher tech is available from somewhere else.

Sierra Leone's government was, in fact, founded on law and democracy; as far as I could tell, they just couldn't withstand a concerted attack from the gang/robber rebel types when it happened. On the other hand, the neighboring countries did a pretty good job of helping. In that area, at least, the violence was primarily anti-government. Of course, the country was primarily made up of returned British slaves, which gives them a rather different culture from parts of Africa with uninterrupted traditions.

There's a certain amount of IT that is worth doing even at this point. IT will probably give you a better financial return on investment than, say, clean water; once you have some level of IT (and electricity to run it), you can get the money to get good clean water.

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (1)

Bwah (3970) | more than 12 years ago | (#64531)

We have to take chances. To be honest, we are hugely in debt (ethically) to the third world. Our lavish lifestyles are to an uncomfortably large extent built on the suffering of people in the poorest countries on earth

How so? I mean this not as flamebait, but quite seriously.

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. (1)

Bwah (3970) | more than 12 years ago | (#64532)

People seem to be suggesting that you build up to the current modern tech level gradually. Like you, I think it may be worth trying to use the tech level of the US, Europe, etc. to try and pull the third world up faster. This could make for some really interesting research.

I think a lot of it would be installing infrastructure that is REALLY REALLY robust. Not necessarily state of the art.

Could be an interesting type of project. If there wasn't such a danger of getting killed just because I'm white and american, I would love to be involved for a while. Sigh.

Re:Peace Corp (1)

luge (4808) | more than 12 years ago | (#64536)

Look into the Peace Corps again, and make sure to talk with someone with the latest information. They have IT projects in the Carribean and Eastern Europe.

Re:Tech Corps? (1)

luge (4808) | more than 12 years ago | (#64537)

Depends a lot on where you are. My SO is, in fact, out in Niger more or less digging furrows and planting trees. Peace Corps is an incredibly varied group; they do have people wiring villages in many parts of the world but in others they work hard at very, very simple things like farming.

Re:Tech Corps? (1)

luge (4808) | more than 12 years ago | (#64538)

Or... wiring villages? PC does it. Like I said in my other comment, PC does /everything/- from the very purely techie to very, very manual labor.

Re:Geek Corps (2)

luge (4808) | more than 12 years ago | (#64539)

I can't find a link ATM, but I know the real Peace Corps now has IT programs in the Carribean and Eastern Europe.

Africa needs Peace + Political/Economic Freedom (2)

TheSync (5291) | more than 12 years ago | (#64541)

Economic Freedom in Sub-Saharan Africa [heritage.org] says: ...Sub-Saharan Africa remains by far the least economically free of all regions: None of the 36 countries graded received a "free" rating, and only five--Benin, Mali, Botswana, Namibia and Mauritius--were found to be "mostly free." The decline in Zimbabwe's score caused it to slip into the "repressed" category, where it joined Guinea-Bissau. South Africa's score worsened as well, with increased government regulations bumping it to the "mostly unfree" category, along with 28 other African nations.

The editors suspended grading for six African nations--Angola, Burundi, Congo, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan--due to the unreliability of data caused by either their civil unrest or "prolonged state of anarchy." They will be included in future editions once "political stability returns."


Africa Betrayed [cato.org] : George Ayittey, a native of Ghana, recalls the exhilaration that swept the continent when colonialism ended. But soon native African leaders began plundering their nations' economies, imprisoning political opponents, and blocking economic progress.

Although those leaders rejected capitalism because of its mistaken identification with colonialism, Africa actually has a tradition of markets and decentralization. Ayittey lays out that tradition before describing the Colonial Era, the march toward tyranny, the de facto apartheid, the military regimes, the intellectual repression, the corruption, and the dubious conduct of the West.


Images from on the ground... (1)

HiredMan (5546) | more than 12 years ago | (#64542)


Everyone's favorite angry SF site protest site [blowthedotoutyourass.com] has some interesting images [blowthedotoutyourass.com] from on the ground in Africa.

A little dated but sadly still very applicable I think...

=tkk

Re:Tech Corps? (3)

maggard (5579) | more than 12 years ago | (#64543)

There is - it's called... Peace Corps.

What do you think they send trained folks out for, to dig furrows? Naw it's folks to help with water systems and modern accounting & yes, bringing the internet out to rural villages.

Re: Crikey, why can't we mind our business (2)

rho (6063) | more than 12 years ago | (#64544)

If you give an African a hand-out, you're doing nothing for them other than teaching them to expect hand-outs...

Why is it we assume that Africans can't do these things themselves? Oh, I know, they're poor and black -- what unsubtle arrogance the helpful-left have.

Sounds to me that "humanitarian aid" is a way for "progressives" to be racists...

Africa needs self-generated wealth and leaders (1)

Ptolemarch (11506) | more than 12 years ago | (#64548)

And I would have to say that is more critical than eating.

Hard to hold a fork or a spoon or a food bowl when RUF rebels rebels have chopped your hands off (Sierra Leone)...

Come on! Don't you see that a communications infrastructure will help Africans to generate wealth?

You sound too insecure ... are you a MSCE ? (1)

Augusto (12068) | more than 12 years ago | (#64552)

Let me guess, you've paid lots of money for your M$ certification and are now afraid of loosing your job ?

I pity you !

Ok, great. Now who do we contact to go there? (2)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 12 years ago | (#64553)

I spent some time in Kenya in the 1990's building a medical clinic in North Eastern Kenya (no, the place is not on a map). I enjoyed it over there.

I would not mind going back to help the people out there develop an internet structure, or, to help teach...

So, where do I go to do this. I know I won't make a fortune doing it. Thats not my goal. I am a single geek, so it would not be that hard for me to uproot and head over to Kenya for a few years.

So, how do I go about doing that?

(Note: I am Canadian, not American. I am looking for international contacts, not local ones.)

Re:Which hand are you looking at? (1)

swb (14022) | more than 12 years ago | (#64555)

Africa's biggest problem is cultural

You hit the nail on the head. Africa's cultural problem is that Africa's had about 200 years or less to accomplish the social evolution that European countries had 1000 years to do. This is with the generous assumption that Europe in 1000 AD was as socially and technologically sophisticated as Africa was circa 1800, which may be dubious at best for sub-Saharan Africa.

No Thanks... (1)

JoeLinux (20366) | more than 12 years ago | (#64559)

After reading a list of common parasites in Africa, I think I will be staying in the nice, pollution filled skies of Smoggy California. There is one that crawls up the hole in your willy, lays eggs, and then leaves. That's more than enough to keep me away, THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

JoeLinux

High Speed Access in Mozambique? (2)

watanabe (27967) | more than 12 years ago | (#64563)

Hi all,

I'm going to help a relief organization in Mozambique this autumn, and have been talking to them about how to get their internet services up and running better than they are now. They have 1200 sites, most of which are in the bush, and two cellular modems which connect to the national ISP. A major problem they have is sending mass e-mails to interested supporters; frequently their ISP drops large numbers of the e-mails, and doesn't tell them about it.

Do you all know of any high speed options / LEO satellite / commercial companies that support businesses in Africa? I've been puzzling through how to get them better services, but I'm sure the collective wisdom of the slashdot community is greater than what I can turn up on my own.

Real problem with geeks in Africa: (1)

Unknown Poltroon (31628) | more than 12 years ago | (#64565)

Bad beer.

Entertaining Quote (2)

chill (34294) | more than 12 years ago | (#64567)

"Manuel Ribiero, cofounder of Fusion Interactive, a Cape Town Web-hosting firm, said that so many South Africans became Microsoft Certified Software Engineers, or MCSEs, that the economy can't absorb them all. ''What do you say to an MCSE?'' asked Ribiero. ''Can I have fries with that?'' Desperate for work, many have left for Europe, he said."

Ouch.

--
Charles E. Hill

Geek Corps (5)

dkm (42942) | more than 12 years ago | (#64571)

If you are interest in volunteering, check out the Geek Corps [geekcorps.org] . It like the Peace Corps but for the technical able. They are looking for both volunteers and donations.

I have no relationship with Geek Corps but I've always thought it looked like a great idea.

Which hand are you looking at? (2)

laetus (45131) | more than 12 years ago | (#64573)

That's one of the primary problems in Africa. Many African governments a) can't provide basic services b) squander and/or abscond with the basic natural resources many of these countries have (do a Google search on "Nigeria oil resources theft government") c) continually wage war on one another at the drop of a hat.

Africa's biggest problem is cultural - mostly the concept of "resource sharing", as in, you made it well in the economy, so give me some of it, rather than, you made it well in the economy, let me study how you did it so I can replicate it.
----------------------------------

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (1)

Monte (48723) | more than 12 years ago | (#64574)

Can you compete with the cost undercutting of an african code sweatshop?

No, and I can't compete with a 12 year old in a Nike sweatshop putting together shoes. Because I don't fscking make shoes, nor do I write the kind of crap-code that a kid working for a bowl of rice is going to churn out.

The day I'm no more valuable than some barely-English speaking third-worlder who knows nothing about the business (pick a business - any business) is the day I go apply at the Taco Bell. You want hot or mild sauce?

Let me know when Africa, Indonesia et al start cranking out those killer apps.

Tough call.

Not for me. I'm an American. I welcome the competition.

Sorry for the Ed Anger rant there, but jeez louize...

Re:Peace Corp (3)

pirodude (54707) | more than 12 years ago | (#64575)

I'd look into the GeekCorps [geekcorps.org] if you're really interested. They send teams on 4 month journeys to countries to help develop their network and computer infastructure.

Geeks in Ghana (3)

nano-second (54714) | more than 12 years ago | (#64576)

There's a volunteer project that sends geeks to Ghana to help businesses. You can read about it at geekhalla [geekhalla.org] . I'm pretty sure /. has even had a story about it at some point in the past.
---

I got email from them.... (3)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 12 years ago | (#64578)

In my spare time I write books and have done several MCSE study guides (just released a Linux LPIC one!). I got email from people in Africa a *LOT*. Many people there are studying up to get certifications thinking that is the way to get to Europe and the US.

I'd say at least 2/3 of my mail was from Africa, usually Nigeria.

Re:Africa needs self-generated wealth and leaders (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 12 years ago | (#64581)

> Africa needs self-generated wealth and leaders

Absolutely.

And Angola and Sierra Leone have more pressing needs. Hovever the rest of Africa needs the tools with which to generate wealth and good leadership. Do you see where I'm going yet? Communications and education. Internet & GSM is a big part of that.

IMHO you are overgeneralising, though much of what you say is true.

And besides, the info in the article on the SAT-2 and Africa-1 cables was most definitely "News for Nerds" - it was interesting and relevant. I live in Cape Town & didn't know that SAT-2 had landed yet.

Re:Information is freedom.. (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#64582)

You're completely ignoring the relevance of this information.

If you're poor, how do you afford the solutions offered online? (IE, information is free, but implementation rarely is) What good is information on a world you live in if you can't afford to go anywhere? (Nevermind that 95% of that information inherently assumes you're from a completetly different culture, thus much of it loses its relevence, usefulness, or poingancy.)

But lets say, for whatever reason, that browsing the net enriches your mind, and makes you happy, a la any given MSN Messenger commercial. So, you give people jobs building this internet. Where does the money come from? Presumably from people who now have jobs. But what are they buying? I don't imagine the culture is quite at the stage where people have the luxury of shopping online or purchasing content. We take for granted that our food, water, house, lawnmower etc, are forgone conclusions. Thus, much of our purchasing, which in turn fuels jobs, is spent on frivilous things like access to porn sites, movies, etc. Remember the crash? That was about people thinking other people would be buying into a new cultural economy. CISCO comes to mind for fueling this hype (I still havn't puchased bon-bons from a quaint european candy shoppe chain). Companies placed their bets, but it didn't quite work out. So what's the payoff with AfricaNet? Who's the end consumer that gets the money going through the pipeline? I think you'd be left with a big FO link, and tons (not all! I'm not saying all!) people standing around either not wanting it or not understanding how it fits into their culture.

I can tell you EXACTLY why misguided efforts like these are bad:

Companies are salivating at the mouth for new consumer bases. The internet would give them unprecendented new access to consumers. The WTO would be pulled in MANY times so companies could exploit the relative weakness of the african economies and cultures to fuel a one way 'import-only' trend into these countries, which at the end of the day will realize they're networks are really only the 20th century version of a dog leash. Western companies are ALL about access to foreign markets. Whatever humanitarian benifits that come out of education and access to information will be obliterated by the greediness of companies to exploit these new markets, turning african countries into just another economy-on-the-westernized-leash.

As for those who took pot-shots at the violence, desease and conditions in africa, ya got alotta nerve. Many will claim that the current conditions are a direct result of outside influences meddling with a once-self-contained culture.

Re:I wonder what the pay would be... (2)

rkent (73434) | more than 12 years ago | (#64583)

what would they pay me.

First of all, not freakin' much, because they don't HAVE much. Maybe under a grand (US$) per month. But believe me, that's luxury pay for the area. You would have an entire house, fenced and probably manually guarded, most likely a live-in servant or two, and probably a nice land rover. Plus domestic vacations would be inanely cheap once you learned the language and the local bartering/haggling proceedures.

Of course maybe you wouldn't learn any of that, because you make yourself sound tremendously ignorant in that comment. ebola is primarily found in remote areas and you're almost certain not to get it. I won't even discuss the best ways to avoid aids. You take prophylactic malaria medication; that's one more thing the natives have to struggle with but which you can remain blissfully ignorant of. The "insane" governments, which are being suffocated by equal parts corruption and IMF debt, can generally be bought off if you really have a problem with them. And there aren't really "rebel factions" within 200 miles of nairobi.

So all around, it would be a pretty great opportunity for a geek to have a great time relatively safely, as long as you dig swimming in the indian ocean and seeing lions in their natural habitat instead of stocking up a fat paycheck. So maybe YOU shouldn't go, but I had a great time.

---

Hey, I went to school there! (2)

rkent (73434) | more than 12 years ago | (#64584)

Well, okay, we only visited Kenyatta University briefly, and I don't think I saw that particular lecture hall. Primarily I attended the U of Nairobi.

And lemme say, these comments about "Africa really needs water/food/health care before the Internet" are way off mark. Yes, all those things are necessary, but you must realize that in some cases, particularly with food and water, it's a matter of distribution, not lack of production, and the fact that the economy is largely subjugated by corrupt governments and international treaties which relegate them to commodity-production only. Which is a famously unstable way to make a living.

Moreover, an educated, informed populace is a great way to get around these obstacles. And wiring up the universities and teaching people software engineering is actually a GREAT step. No one's saying "to hell with food, we want you to be our new cheap code monkeys!" A lot of people are genuinely interested in helping African countries recover from poverty.

---

Re:I wonder what the pay would be... (2)

jhoffoss (73895) | more than 12 years ago | (#64585)

Oh hell yes they can afford!
If they can't come up with the cash to pay you, I'm sure the World Bank or IMF would be willing to put a third-world nation $100 Billion further in debt (that number is so large because we have to account for politician's bribes.) As long as every person above you is getting a cut off the top (larger than yours, of course) they could care less what you're doing there, I'm sure.
---

i was just in south africa (2)

Joshuah (82679) | more than 12 years ago | (#64587)

i wouldnt suggest anyone that i know of going to africa to work. i was just in south africa and the entire government is just completely whacked. they make all these dumb laws, then change them any time they want. people think africa (speaking of south africa) has changed for the better since 1994, but it has only gotten worse. If you go there, make sure you get the bulletproof cars, have AMERICAN guards watch your house, etc. It isnt worth the stress in my opinion. some other places in africa may be different, but south africa is rough

Peace Corp (3)

Bandman (86149) | more than 12 years ago | (#64588)

I was actually thinking about this a few weeks ago. I got the idea in my head that I might want to join the peace corp, but when I did some research, it seemed like all they were doing was teaching people how to build lakes and fish more efficiently. Not that they arn't useful skills, but it's not where my strength lies. I would jump at the chance to go and help with computer related endevors. Perhaps the Peace Corp could work this out? I'd love the experience.

Information is freedom.. (2)

AndroSyn (89960) | more than 12 years ago | (#64589)

I've read a number of comments here, talking about how that we should be focusing on basic necessities in Africa, like clean water, etc. I agree that we should do that, but also access to the amount of information available on the internet is a very powerful way to educate people on the world they live in. They could, perhaps read some research on new farming techniques that helps crops survive droughts.

Also consider the amount of jobs that could be created maintaining this type of infrastructure, jobs that could progress the continent from subsistance farming, to a technological peer with the United States and Europe.

funny coincidence. (1)

RoufTop (94425) | more than 12 years ago | (#64592)

I just happened to be going through my "where are they now" file and checked out BlowTheDotOutYourAss.com. Their last update, dated 10 months ago, had these great photos:

http://www.blowthedotoutyourass.com/mission_01/afr ica/africa_01.html [blowthedotoutyourass.com]

(the numbers at the top will help you navigate through the images...)

Uh. (2)

bmajik (96670) | more than 12 years ago | (#64594)

You've got to be fucking kidding me.

"Africa Needs Net Access, NOW!"

Let me show my unimaginably endless ignorance here, but doesn't africa need to nail down things like "shitting and drinking in separate places" and "not having civil wars over who's pissant do-nothing government is not running anything--today" before they worry about highspeed net access ?

Seems like all the interesting wildlife there is about extinct, and DeBeers has the relevant natural resources all locked up.

Africa reminds me of a funny newsgroup name I saw once - alt.pave.the.earth

Better words were never spoken.

Risky? Hardly (5)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 12 years ago | (#64598)

"I know these countries deserve a break" is about the biggest understatement I've ever heard. If you've been to sub-Saharan Africa, you see firsthand just how much most of the countries in the region desperately need help.

They don't need the kind of help that the western world primarily gives them, which is just enough assistance to help themselves stay poor. What they need is infrastructure development:

* Viable microeconomic development, so that average entrepreneurs can make a living.

* Eradication of tarrifs from the developed world, which hinder African nations from exporting

* Real education for more than just the elites.

* Fundamental change in the regional politics of Africa, which would allow nations to concentrate on development rather than ethnic and border feuds.

The fact is that Africa's history has put it so far to the back of the pack that even with a concerted effort among European and North American countries to assist African nations in a structured, long-term manner, to talk of "little African kids" working for a bowl of rice and putting us out of work is patently absurd.

There is no "tough call" here. We either help African people climb out of poverty, cyclical famine, and oppressive politics, or all of us will pay the price sooner or later. It's enlightened self-interest for us to help African nations help themselves.

Re:you are dumb (2)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 12 years ago | (#64600)

The original poster is not dumb. He's making a valid point that they don't need the Internet before the need basic nessisities, not that the don't need technically minded people to fix the things you mention.

"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

pass (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 12 years ago | (#64601)

A continent that imports 2/3 of it's food needs the kind of net that catches fish. Stay home, make money, give to charities that send people who can and like to do things that will really help. Your contributions to, say Debian, will be felt in Africa too.

As Cartman would say.... (3)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 12 years ago | (#64602)


"My mom says there are a lot of black people in Africa"

But on a serious note, it would be nice to see the rest of the world jump onto the information superhighway. It'd be nicer to have the starving suffering people fed first, but hey.... can't win them all.

Gambia experiences (4)

CptnHarlock (136449) | more than 12 years ago | (#64606)

I was in the Gambia participating in an cultural exchange project called Dunya Molu [dunya-molu.com] last November. The sittuation there is not as bad as you describe it to be in South Africa. Granted, the government is slow and some parts of it are quite corrupted, but it's deffinetely not worse than some of the eastern Europe countries which many investors are OK with. Gambia is a very small and quite poor country and people have to get by in some way. Then it's "normal" that the Police or Customs sometimes try to add some dinero to their wages... Despite the generally lower standards there still are decent and relatively cheap Cybercafees with PII:s, color printers, scanners and so on.

In the project I participated I was responsible for the webpage and some other computer oriented stuff. I just want to remind you that this is also a way in which you can help. It doesn't need to be infrastructure or humongously big projects. You can add your little share here and there.

Finaly don't judge the entire African continent from what you've seen in one country! It's like havin been to Albania and judging Monaco based on those experiences. Africa is bigger than Europe!..

Cheers...

P.S. The humid air in the Gambia did wonders to the junk that gets stuck on the mouses "scrollers"!!..
--
$HOME is where the .*shrc is

Not again.... (5)

CptnHarlock (136449) | more than 12 years ago | (#64607)

Everytime there is an Africa/Internet related storry a lot of people start screaming "Give Africa food/celan water/medication before tech/Internet/bandwith" and many a good modpoints get wated on those coments. Have you been to Africa? Yes, the countries in that continent are generally poorer but remember that what you see in the news is not the entire picture. When I was living in Bulgaria (before the perestrojka) whenever there was some news report from the US on TV they were filming in some backalley with homless people lying arround drinking liquor from papercovered bottles... When there is a report from Africa in the West it's allways famine, war and catastrophes. Don't you realize that if those were the only things that happened in Africa the continent wouldn last even 5 years? On the streets of Stockholm I see as many beggars/homeless as I saw in Serekunda (the Gambia)!.. Yes, many parts of Africa need all those things but the situation is not the same everywere. Getting access to information on the Internet will also rise the awareness regarding many of those problems and probably even partially help solve them. Developement doesn't need to be made in a linear/serial fashion. So: Africa does need Internet/tech/modern infrastructures!..
--
$HOME is where the .*shrc is

Reminds me of the Dilbert strip (2)

yellowstuff (142885) | more than 12 years ago | (#64608)

The PHB says "we're outsourcing our production to Elbonia. They right high quality code for a few cents every day." The story ends with the entire QA department quitting to become mimes.

Why Should it be wired? (1)

jessh (144140) | more than 12 years ago | (#64609)

To me it really seems like wireless is ideal for places like africa that don't yet have a real network infrastructure. If instead of running wires they setup an AD-HOC wireless system anyone that could get the hardware could get on the network, and anyone setup to be on it could contribute to the coverage of the network. If each machine connecting to it had the ability to forward and route packets than you would need no wired infrastructure just a bunch of machines with wireless. It would start out small, maybe one location being able to access another, but eventually as sites were added they could have nationwide coverage.

I know not all of the technology needed for this is currently readily available but if people would work toward it and start implementing it i think that it would be an ideal solution.

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (3)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 12 years ago | (#64611)

No, that wasn't a troll, but perhaps I misspoke myself. Okay - after reading the replies I got I guess I should clarify - what I was referring to is the fact that there are few to no human rights laws in African nations - and what is happening with manufacturing industries in Mexico and Indonesia could happen in Africa with code - people turn from being impoverished to being slaves. Yes, something must be done - buts first things first these people need governments that wont sell the populace out to the highest bidder for slave labour, or proclaim holy war against their neighbors. Otherwise, poverty gives way to slavery - the people have something useful to do, but they still live in sht.

Of course, even doing this is risky. (4)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 12 years ago | (#64612)

I know these countries deserve a break, and need records. However, with the records of human rights and oppressive governments there, wiring Africa could be dooming ourselves. Can you compete with the cost undercutting of an african code sweatshop? We always toot that information is free, and once you get online, even with an old discarded 486 running Arachne, you've got access. This means that, theoretically, anyone with access can become a coder. Even little African kids who'll work for a bowl of rice. Will you work for a bowl of rice? Then why hire you? There's no shipment cost for software, the primary weakness of exporting work to abusive sweatshop countries like indonesia. On the other hand, do we have the right to deny them this tech? To keep them out of this economy? They do deserve their chance to level the playing field.... And its not like they don't deserve a break. Tough call.

Re:Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. (1)

bluebomber (155733) | more than 12 years ago | (#64613)

I think a lot of it would be installing infrastructure that is REALLY REALLY robust.

Is that anything like a government that doesn't slaughter its own citizens? Oh, maybe you mean something like a health care infrastructure? Perhaps an educational system? Because surely you can't be talking about fiber optics and that sort of thing -- network equipment needs electricity to run, and they just don't have it...

Re:Forget it (2)

bluebomber (155733) | more than 12 years ago | (#64614)

They need to address issues like fighting famine and building roads infrastructure before they can shift to building IT/telecoms. That's my opinion anyway.

You're on the money with that one. Some things that most (all?) countries in sub-Saharan Africa could use:

  • A stable government.
  • A stable legal system. Without either of these, you will not be able to have:
  • A stable business environment / stable economy. Even with "the foundations of law and democracy" this is difficult to achieve: look at Japan over the last 10 years, and Argentina/Brazil/Mexico over the last 2-5.
  • Rid the government of corruption. This helps towards fixing the above.
  • Allow the populace to educate, shelter, and feed themselves. This means anything from a handout to a "hand up", depending on which charity/NGO/whatever you are talking to. It doesn't really matter how it gets done as long as it all gets done (education is the big one for the long term, but it can't happen without the other two). None of this can take place in an environment in which the average Joe lives in fear of a) roving bands of thugs and b) government troops.
  • Effective measures to prevent the spread of disease. AIDS is a big fear right now [healthnet.org] . Many children die daily of African sleeping sickness. Malaria is another huge killer. Malaria and one other disease which leads to blindness (blanking on the name right now) are preventable with drugs.
  • Note that I haven't mentioned an IT infrastructure yet.
  • Electricity? Yeah, right. Lagos, Nigeria will be the world's 3rd largest city by 2015 [sru.edu] , behind Tokyo and Bombay. The city is growing rapidly and none of the infrastructure can handle it. It is a big deal [yahoo.com] that certain companies in the city will be provided with 22h/day electricity at some point in the near future! You can't have an IT infrastructure on 22h/day of electricity (and don't expect 22h/day of "uninterrupted" service).
  • Don't bother joining the geekcorps [geekcorps.org] if you want to help Africa. Instead get involved with HFH [habitat.org] , The Grameen Foundation [gfusa.org] , The Heifer Project [heifer.org] , or any of a number of other fundamental-infrastructure-building organizations. I'm sure geekcorps does great things, but their efforts seem better directed at "second tier" nations that already have basic infrastructure laid and are ready to make the leap into the 20th (yes) century.

E-Rate for Africa? (1)

demo9orgon (156675) | more than 12 years ago | (#64615)

Ok everyone, turn the way-back machine to 1998, and remember E-Rate. Hell, there's a line of financial victims still waiting their day in court (if they ever get permission) to resolve that mess. Charity, and good intention don't mean dick to making an Internet.

Before even warming up to the idea Africa, all of it, needs to stop being the rape-victim of western/asian business interests, and most importantly, Africans just need to develop their own Internet infrastructure sometime after they've uplifted enough to not have to worry about disease, incredibly brutal wars, slavery, and the kind of fundamental problems which completely overshadow something as useless as the Internet to the quality of life for human beings.

Give a people the tools and support to improve their lives and they'll get around to something as useless as an Internet sometime after the majority of people are well-fed, the crime/brigandry/slavery are brought down to acceptable limits, and the religious fundamentalists are warm and fuzzy with the idea of their "everyman" downloading snaps of shaved sluts.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the demagouges need to shut up, or start promoting a truly unified African nation by helping improve the overall infrastructure of the country rather than pouring monies down an E-rate-esque rathole.

Africa needs basic services before net tech (3)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#64616)

This continent is in dire need of basic health services and infrastructure (think clean water, sanitation, school buildings and hospitals).

Connecting impoverished villages stricken by AIDS with T1 lines simply isn't going to have a substantial effect on the common welfare.

Re:funny coincidence. (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 12 years ago | (#64617)

HAHAHA

here's my contribution to the list...

YouCanNotEatEthernet.com
IAmDyingOfAIDSButIHaveMyOwnWebsite.com
NowWeCanOrderFoodOnline.com

---

But Africa seems so pleasant... (1)

taliver (174409) | more than 12 years ago | (#64620)

I'm absolutely positive that a bunch of white Americans would never be used as targets for any group of dissidents. I'm also sure that the stable [ghanaian-chronicle.com] governments in Africa could easily defend those high tech people from any kidnapping groups.

Also, from what I hear, the weather is wonderful, the people are all friendly, the help shit diamonds [trinicenter.com]

Yes, I'm signing up now for a great job!

Re:But Africa seems so pleasant... (1)

taliver (174409) | more than 12 years ago | (#64621)

You're right of course. Not all Americans are white. Not all programmers are white. Not all places in Africa are bad, and not all coders that go there are stupid.

However, in extremely simplistic generalities, most CS and tech majors are white, most Americans are white [census.gov] , and I am personally under the belief that the majority of coders that go to Africa would have to be extremely self-sacrificing (which, in a cynical view, is stupid.).

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (2)

Elvis Maximus (193433) | more than 12 years ago | (#64624)

So you're suggesting that only the rich should have an economy, lest the poor undercut our consulting rates?

-

Re:I wonder what the pay would be... (3)

Elvis Maximus (193433) | more than 12 years ago | (#64627)

Lets say I was to go to Africa, put up with e-bola, aids, malaria, violence, insane governments, and rebel factions; what would they pay me. I mean, come on, it would have to be a pretty large number...

Don't worry about it. You just bombed the interview.

-

Re:As Cartman would say.... (2)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 12 years ago | (#64630)

As a matter of fact, very few people in Africa are truly starving. Malnutrition is by far the worst scourge on the continent and the primary means for eradicating it is education.

On the other hand.... (2)

mblase (200735) | more than 12 years ago | (#64631)

Any government can provide you with clean water, debt relief, and no war. China's notorious for just that sort of thing, in fact.

Full Internet access, on the other hand, gives access to information, freedom of speech, even international education. They may not be able to ship e-commerce out that way, but full access to the international community is nothing to sneeze at.

Sometimes, you need to pick the frosting you like best first.

What's wrong with the slashdot crowd (3)

Espen Skoglund (204722) | more than 12 years ago | (#64632)

I've been looking through the posts here and I must say that I'm pretty scared of the views that most slashdot people seem to share. Basically, what most of the crowd seems to be saying is: a) don't go there since the infrastructure, standard of living, or whatever really sucks, or b) don't go there because there are more dire needs that need to be fixed first (e.g., current health situation).

I just have to say: What the f**k is wrong with the slashdot crowd? I guess most of the crowd is American, but I always sincerely thought that Americans where better than their reputation (I guess I have to reeavaluate these thoughts).

People considering a) probably never spent a single day outside the comfort of their hometown (or neighbouring town). So what if the standard of living is a bit lower where you get to live in Africa? I mean, I haven't been there myself, but common sense makes me see that there's a bit more to Africa than people living in bungalows and eating each other for dinner.

People considering b) must have their head so thight up their arse that they're only able to consider a direct route from A to B as the only true solution. Get a life. This is the real world. It's not some derivate of a Populus like game where evolution happens to take one specific route. Does anyone actually believe that improvement of, e.g., the net infrastructure does have to occur after other improvements are finished? Does anyone believe that improvement of the net infrstructure is completely orthogonal to othe improvements in the societey, that, e.g., the health sector can not benefit from improvements in the IT sector?

Moreover, anyone taking on a job to build a net infrastructure in Africa (even if their salaries might be lower) will at least be able to help 3rd world countries in a concrete and very useful way. It will probably help more than giving a $10 donation to some random help organization every year. Having someone use their acquired skills to do real, much needed work will usually be way more helpful. In addition, living in another country for some time tend to give you a more unbiased view of the world.

Geeks in Africa... (1)

QwkHyenA (207573) | more than 12 years ago | (#64633)

Wonderful idea!

I'd love to see the stats on that one 5 years from now.
Out of 500 geeks that were up to the change:

30 eaten by predators

120 killed due to civil unrest

46 killed while traveling in 60yr old planes

100 in prisons as political POWs

54 Outlaws due to DMCA warrants for their arrest

100 captured and sold as tech slaves

47 stoned to death cause they were confused for a US citizen

1 stayed (no one left to compete for bandwidth!!)

Where do I sign up?!!

Re:Geeks in Africa... (1)

QwkHyenA (207573) | more than 12 years ago | (#64634)

Yep. Other 2 were abducted by aliens. (I was trying to us the built in Microsoft calculator on my Win2K system at work. Should have used a GPL'd calculator!)

*ROFL*

Re:What Africa really needs (1)

Foggy Tristan (220356) | more than 12 years ago | (#64638)

Sort of like adding the frosting before the chickens laid the egg to send to the supermarket to be bought by you to be added to the ingredients to be baked into a cake, sounds like.

"My apologies, we have no running water, but we can play Quake."

Re:Great experience... with a few drawbacks... (3)

Foggy Tristan (220356) | more than 12 years ago | (#64639)

Now that being said, if you're not married, get married before you go, because you do *not* want to start a sex-life anywhere in Africa right now...



We all know, of course, the marriage is the sure-fire way to prevent a sex-life.

No thanks (1)

arfy (236686) | more than 12 years ago | (#64644)

So I can go somewhere with unstable politics, dirty water, poverty, that sounds like its a huge petri dish for breeding the new most dangerous diseases on the planet PLUS I get to be a walking target because I'm white?
Yummy, this sounds more fun than the dot-coms last year or Y2K coding two years ago!

Priorities (1)

digitalboi (240039) | more than 12 years ago | (#64646)

wait a second; back the priorities wagon up! If we dont do something about AIDS over there first, there will be no one left to pay your salary for laying cat5 and setting a few win95 boxes at a cyber cafe.
Dont get me wrong, 3rd world countries can benefit from internet access, but if you were to ask the average person over there what they really want, it sure isnt a mouse and a keyboard and a screen to look at.
This is all fine and dandy, but lets not put the carriage before the horse.

Scary (1)

Cyph (240321) | more than 12 years ago | (#64647)

I'd do it, but I heard that the deadly mosquitoes like geek blood.

Re:Great experience... with a few drawbacks... (1)

coyotemac (240819) | more than 12 years ago | (#64648)

Damn!

Wish I had mod points.....

Great experience... with a few drawbacks... (2)

Bonker (243350) | more than 12 years ago | (#64649)

Remembering that the majority of africans live in what USians would consider 'poverty', ie: substistence living, any given american who goes over to work in a techical position of any sort is going to be living in relative luxury while you get to build computer networks and the like.

Now that being said, if you're not married, get married before you go, because you do *not* want to start a sex-life anywhere in Africa right now...

What Africa really needs (3)

Dolly_Llama (267016) | more than 12 years ago | (#64656)

What africa needs more than internet connection is clean water, stability of government, debt relief, and most of all: peace. This is sort of adding the frosting before baking the cake.

Help them help themselves! (1)

bpetal (267446) | more than 12 years ago | (#64657)

We've been working on a computer project in Morocco for the past two years. It's not building network infrastructure, but outsourcing programming needs from first world countries to developing countries.

The point isn't necessarily to provide Africans with technology but with work, which is in short supply. Also, we want to provide them with a position at a company that isn't corrupt. We want to be a role model of ethical personal and corporate behavior - something that is also in short supply in Africa (much worse than here).

If we offer good jobs with decent pay, they can begin to afford to build the technology. But I don't think technology is the primary ends. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is. In the end, technology may be a part of fulfilling those goals, but of itself it is an empty aspiration.

Different subject: Governments are generally the worst entities to enact reform of any kind. Especially in countries where governments or contragovernments are the problem, it is individuals in leadership that affect change for the better.

Brandon

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (1)

pyat (303115) | more than 12 years ago | (#64660)

We get the benefits of cash poor / resource rich countries, while the common people in those countries get very little if any benefit. One of those resources is labour. There has to be some debt if the worker making trainers gets only 4% of the selling price of the goods we buy.

http://pilger.carlton.com/print/69005

These regimes are overtly corrupt, and yet they are maintained in power by the actions of "democratic" western powers. Such was US involvement in Nicaragua and the successful subversion of elections after protracted terrorist actions against the (more) democratically elected government

http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/articles/z9005-decli ne -demo.html

There is a strong current that the poorest countries must be maintained in a state of poverty, and this is done by using the military of such countries to keep control of the populace.

The result is a world where the disparity between the richest 20% (us) and the poorest 20% has risen 50% between 1960 and 1989 (and has deteriorated further since) according to the UN

http://www.bigeye.com/chomsky.htm

These are our governments and representatives. We must take responsibility for their actions.

m

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (2)

pyat (303115) | more than 12 years ago | (#64662)

I think Paulo Cuelho (spelling?) wrote

"A ship is safest in port, but that is not what it is for"

We have to take chances. To be honest, we are hugely in debt (ethically) to the third world. Our lavish lifestyles are to an uncomfortably large extent built on the suffering of people in the poorest countries on earth.

The comment about human rights is actually very funny, considering that the US government has been involved in supporting/funding/hiding some of the worst human rights abuses of this century (funny you should mention Indonesia, the blood of million people who died there after Suharto came to power is very much on US and British hands, not to mention East Timor which NOBODY would notice for years).

If individuals can reach outside of government activity and help other people in the blackest poverty holes in the world, I say that they should be applauded by all ethical and free-thinking people. The only way everyone will have any chance of living a decent life is if people help people.

Sorry if this sounds a bit preachy, but i feel strongly about these issues.

m

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (1)

shaunak (304231) | more than 12 years ago | (#64663)

What you're more afraid of, is having to compete with people who'll work for peanuts.

Considering the complexities of software today, do you honestly think anyone will be able to actually compile code on a 486 or pentium even, in realistic times? Or will they transmit code to some other developed country, where it will be compiled, and errors reported back?

Besides, if the poor kid is going to work in a code shop for a bowl of rice, you shouldn't go and close the shop. If you do that, you make sure the kid finds it extremely difficult to get a bowl of rice. If you really want to do something, you try and improve the whole situation.

Wow (2)

MSBob (307239) | more than 12 years ago | (#64664)

Man, in your comment you took the concept of "xenophobia" to an entirely different level. You really did. I sincerely hope you're just trolling and don't really believe in what you wrote because if you do I pity you and your primitive self centered existance.

Forget it (3)

MSBob (307239) | more than 12 years ago | (#64665)

Africa has much more pressing needs than building the IT infrastructure (you have to have horses before you have cars, you know). From my viewpoint most african countries are too rough for all but the most hardened travellers to live in the long run and I know what I'm own about as I've set my foot on all continents except for Antarctica and worked in four different countries in the last ten years. South Africa which is the most advanced is way too dangerous to recommend as a place to live. And I'm talking South Africa here not Zanzibar or Sierra Leone.

Personally I'd rather if African governments concentrated on building the foundations of law and democracy on their soil and eradicating the rampant corruption and crime that sweeps the continent. They need to address issues like fighting famine and building roads infrastructure before they can shift to building IT/telecoms. That's my opinion anyway.

Re:Tech Corps? (2)

tb3 (313150) | more than 12 years ago | (#64670)

I guess what I was think of was a more specialized version to appeal more to techies. I can't see most techies wanting to deal with water systems and modern accounting and the like (although I'm sure there are some that will).

Tech Corps? (3)

tb3 (313150) | more than 12 years ago | (#64671)

I guess what is needed is a high-tech version of the Peace Corps; go do your one-year stint in Kenya helping them get their networks running. The bright side is that you'd be working completely with Open-source software, because they can't afford anything else.

With this crowd getting politically active and motivated, and the job market shrinking, maybe this is the right time?

Re:As Cartman would say.... (1)

KingAzzy (320268) | more than 12 years ago | (#64672)

Slashcrap thinks Linux will save the world. Africa has a LOAD of problems -- civil wars, corrupt governments, rampant disease, terrorism, poverty, hunger, etc... What kind of jerk would start talking about laying down a fiber backbone in a land that so clearly needs so much more?

Going overseas any time soon? (1)

Aerog (324274) | more than 12 years ago | (#64674)

Considering that I'm still trying to finish this Engineering/CompSci degree, there's time to take a couple of second(third/fourth) language classes and try something like this. The argument was that how many people over in North America/Europe/Austraila/NZ/etc. have the technical skills coupled with a knowledge of the local languages?

The majority of the world is NOT connected to any sort of half-decent online services (if any) and in the next few years I can see a lot more of this sort of "go overseas and help set up infrastructure" thing happening as governments begin bringing in professionals to get their services running.

Don't know how widely accepted this is, but I for one am going to hit this opening in the tech sector hard. Travel a couple years, get my P.Eng, and then move back to Canada with experience, cash, a couple of languages, and the travel bug potentially out of my system for a while. (Not to mention the weather!) Now just to get into that Mandarin class. . . . . .

Re:Geeks in Africa... (1)

Garinwirth (325774) | more than 12 years ago | (#64675)

Either your math is off, or the other two got kidnapped by aliens.

Feed a coder for less than the price of a cup of - (1)

robvasquez (411139) | more than 12 years ago | (#64676)

I can just see sally struthers now.

Adopt a geek for pennies a day!

In all serious it could be quite a growing experience, even a safari of sorts. I'd go.

Re:As Cartman would say.... (2)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 12 years ago | (#64677)

And you're sending GEEKS?! Most geeks i know subsist on vending machines and chinese food; what do they know of nutrition?

woohoo! (1)

duncanIdaho.clone() (457271) | more than 12 years ago | (#64683)

I'm all ready to run down to the motherland and build a digital infrastructure for rich minorities and dictactors.

That way all the African 1337 can send emails to the rest of the world requesting help fighting real problems like AIDS instead of just sending snail mail and footage of poor dying children.

I guess there's just too many young aspiring diamond cutters in their private school system.

Re:Geeks in Africa... (1)

miked50 (466948) | more than 12 years ago | (#64689)

What happened to the other 2??

30+120+46+100+54+100+47+1=498

Re:Put Your Skill Where Your Mouth is.... (1)

mimbleton (467957) | more than 12 years ago | (#64690)

"Ph.D and 8 years of experience; or MA and 10 years of experience; or BA and 15 years of experience. " They asking for this just to fill Education Technology Specialist ? Good luck.

Cat / Dead Rat theory of development (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 12 years ago | (#64692)

Your cat gives you a dead rat because it's the thing it loves the most, not because it's something you can actually use.

Similarly, geeks think that help comes in the form of computers. And it gives them the warm fuzzy satisfaction of believing they're doing something important without actually having to do messy stuff like building water supply systems, trying to build democratic institutions, and feeding the starving.

If you want to help Africa, sell the computing skills you intend to donate and send the money to people who have something worthwhile to contribute. Same goes with the inner city...

P.S. I wish I could take credit for the name of the phenomenon noted in the subject, but it belongs to Paulina Borsook [cyberselfish.com]

I wonder what the pay would be... (3)

Chris_Hayes (469823) | more than 12 years ago | (#64694)

Lets say I was to go to Africa, put up with e-bola, aids, malaria, violence, insane governments, and rebel factions; what would they pay me. I mean, come on, it would have to be a pretty large number if they wanna lure geeks over there, can they afford it?

Re:Of course, even doing this is risky. (1)

TechnoVooDooDaddy (470187) | more than 12 years ago | (#64695)

forgive me if I'm not too concerned about Zulu tribe outcoding me for the next 20 years. I've been doing this since i was a kid, and don't anticipate too many difficulties keeping ahead of Africa-come-lately in the programming department.

Show me the money ... (1)

zangatwork (470195) | more than 12 years ago | (#64696)

While this is probably a good idea, I have my doubts about the financial returns of web-enabling Africa. The few countries that can afford high-tech projects are somewhat unstable, while the remainder have much more pressing needs than internet connectivity (you know, famine, disease, war, death ...). Perhaps if we train them here to bootstrap themselves to the 21st century, we might see better return on the project.

On another note, I am surprised and dismayed at the amount of juvenile bigotry present in the previous posts. While Africa certainly has a metric assload of problems, they certainly do not rate the vituperation and calumny I am seeing here today.

Jeez.

The more the merrier (1)

EvilOverlord (470420) | more than 12 years ago | (#64697)

Its good to see that less developed countries are starting to gain better internet connections and, if anything, is a chance to lay down a good communications infrastructure learning from more developed countries experimentation. Also the article states there are links to a few other countries (India, Malaysia) further strengthening the global data infrastructure. Yay!
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