Are technology innovations "changing Africa"?

4 years, 11 months ago

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In response to this post on facebook, original source here.

I want this to be true, and in some ways it is. But in others, it really, really isn't. m-Health with a limping health system (m-health impact and cost-benefit analyses in general)? mobile money in places that are not Kenya, Nigeria, and a few others? Ushahidi's pet project and the OLPC as local innovations? That mxit statistic, which should be more like 6.5 million active users? None of these things are without merit, but they don't add up to "innovations changing Africa" except in quite a limited sense of change.

Replacing Africa, land of rape and lions with Africa, land of technology! and innovation! is awkwardly simplistic - and, depending on how you feel about aid spent on technology and not on other things, also materially consequential. Africa, very big and understandably pretty complicated?

Also, that map of innovations 'taking over' the geographical extent of Africa is.. not a good visual.

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