The eLearning Fundi

Random reflections about eLearning in Africa

The Utopian View of Technology in Africa

Last week, I happened to be at a forum where the Zimbabwean Minister of Science and Technology Development, Hon. Olivia Muchena was speaking. Her topic incidentally was about “ICT Research Innovation in Zimbabwe and Opportunities for Cooperation with the EU”, and it was very interesting to listen to her talk of the achievements of her government in enhancing and creating enough ‘digital opportunities’. Like giving a report card of her government’s achievement in taking the computing power to the people, she showed, even with pictures and jokes how there is so much progress in Zimbabwe in regards to digital revolotion despite the “negative balance of payment”, neglect from the developed world and the situation that everyone knows of. One of the jokes was a paraphrased one about how the Zimbabwean scientists discovered that 5000 years their ancestors were using wireless technology to communicate. Although it is true (since in the olden days, we (read Africans) used drums, screaming, ululations, smoke as a means of communication which is wireless in nature), this kind of wireless communication is not what we need in the 21st century.
It is during her presentation that I got thinking of how technology (more so the digital technology) has been touted as utopian (techno-utopian). Presenting creative solutions to all the problems that we are facing currently and with the potential to revolutionalise every human aspect. In it, there is an ideal (and imaginary) vision of a world without pain, suffering and death. Even though the idealistic view of utopia may never be realised, there is power within the communities that have been failed by the sytems and structures (political, economic, social or otherwise) create alternative systems.
With the tough choices we are presented with in Africa – limited infrastructure, limited human capacity, lack of finances, and even lack of political will, the power of the community in Africa to develop is still there. We still have the power to revolutionalise, as Africans the way we live, and how we can use the resources at out disposal for an improved life. However the great question still lingers: where do we start?

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