The need for Africa to catch up in the world of information technology

I recently wrote briefly about how slow internet connection prevented Madagascar from being more active in the global conversation (in French here) hence emphasizing the role of the Malagasy diaspora in keeping the exchange active. This problem is certainly not limited to Madagascar in Africa. It might very well be that one of the future major obstacles to Africa's development is the lack of connectivity. I am aware that there are other more pressing issues right now but being able to exchange rapidly with the rest of the world might be the equalizer that Africa needs to level the playing field. However Here is how wide the gap is:

(via Martin)

Those little "spaghettis" that you can barely see are the fiber optic cables going to Africa, with the 2 major ones servicing mostly RSA and Egypt. A closer look would be even more depressing for some countries (Madagascar included). Compare this to the layers of "lasagna" between Europe and North-America and you have a good idea of the magnitude of the problem.

Now contrast that with this great map found at Hash's whiteafrican.

A small problem to solve it isn't (sorry, I had to go Yoda there to sound wiser.)
The whole reason for this post was one of the post stressing that Africa is a land of opportunity on Hjk's TED series of articles . I 100% agree with Naidoo's vision but things need to start changing gear soon for Africa to be competitive on the global level. Before the information gap gets even wider. Maybe fiber optic cables is a lost cause. Satellite connection may be the solution, there is no inequality in satellite's coverage, the whole planet is covered all the same.
Update: 32.5 million commitment b IFC for cable that will serve 21 Sub-Saharan african nations ( Madagascar included ).

In unrelated news, I will be in NY next week for the Youth Assembly at the UN. Here is a fun map of the city by neighborhood, I will be wandering in the "Tudor" quarter. (Yes, I am on map rampage, this one is from the fabulously entertaining blog strangemaps).
So if you are in the area and you want to meet up for coffee or bonbons, send me an email (in the left column).


  1. Here comes a smart one ! Between you and me, I love your writings and am really enjoying reading and OT-commenting them (i know I made the same speech at hjk's). It's always fun to be the first to post a comment too....yark yark
    ok I,ll be back after some foko stuff (I needed this break even if I didn't pull nothing clever...like always...)

  2. Thanks Jo,
    "yark, yark" ? A little Beavis and Butt-Head reference hey ? :)

  3. je viens d'avoir le pris de l'internet par satellite à mada en ADSL et ça commence a être interressant (500 000 fhg/mois)

    si le discour d'Euvin est compris par les dirigeants et les investisseurs et que la population en benéficie (important)je pense que ça pourrai se developper très vite. Les conditions sont déjà reuni et je penses que ça ne va pas tarder.
    Profite bien de ton séjour a NY - LOVA et surtout n'hesite pas a partager les idées interréssantes :)
    keep it up!

  4. hey Hjk,

    Fais moi signe si il y a lieu de rendre visite a un Tedster ;).


  5. Very interesting (and disturbing) maps on the connectivity aspect...
    There's gotta be a better way to provide acceptable connectivity to the interiors of Africa...
    The last map of Afric with the super-imposed countries...was quite mindblowing. Really puts the scale of problems in perspective. Thanks Lova.

    Also, I used to live in the Tudor area till last year :) Overlooking the UN building actually...haha.
    Now I'm in Midtwon West...so that's the little Pink area right in-between the Theater District and Central Park :) See you here sometime soon.

    OT (See, I caught on...) - Have you seen Bourne Ultimatum yet? ;)

  6. Chuck7:34 AM

    I am technologically challenged here:

    Can someone here please tell me how phone calls (not satellite phones) are routed to and from MDG.

  7. @amrita,
    the task at hand is indeed daunting. I have not seen Bourne U. yet. I heard it's quite a ride.
    @ Hi Chuck,
    Thanks for dropping by. I hope those links were helpful. I do not know the answer to your question but I will ask around.

  8. update: 32.5 million for fiber optic cables for 21 countries including Madagascar in 2009....
    Wow, that's hilarious. Is that a case of "Ask and you shall receive"or what :) ? Hey IFC, I want 5 million for HIV/AIDS relief, a 10 ounce medium rare sirloin steak and canned food for my cat....please ?

  9. Soava dia! :) Le Palais des Nations Unies, que ce soit à New-York ou à Genève, fait partie de mes visites préférées. Et de voler qq secondes sur la place du chairman dans les salles où se réunissent les délégations de ce monde... :) C'est à faire absolument, tout comme une visite à leur librairie.