Africa’s Tech Map

The ICT revolution looming across Africa is the highlight of Michael Grotenhoff’s Linking Africa. From Uganda to Rwanda and then to Kenya, we see how these countries are evolving from largely commodities-based economies to information technology powerhouses.

Mobile Money, a telephone payment option is the sweeping innovation in Uganda, embraced by many but still shunned by some, the software is gradually paying its way into most small and big businesses in the country. Next was Rwanda. Stuck between Uganda and Congo, the agrarian state is on a mission to transform into the region’s biggest ICT pioneer. A technical partner is South Korea, a country with a similar experience as Rwanda. According to the documentary, Rwanda seeks to establish itself as a link between Uganda, the financial sector and Congo, the home of raw materials.  As the benefits of technological development take root, the running of a fibre optic cable from Kigali through Africa and into Europe sounds like a huge step for the African country.

The film lands finally in Kenya and we meet the inventors of Ushahidi, the now global software that is a consequence of the country’s post election crisis. The software is now widely used as a reporting tool for news and up-to-date sharing of information across global communities. Also in Kenya, we discover the Makerere University’s Computer Science Faculty is churning out thousands of young ICT experts that are ready-made to dominate the sector.

Linking Africa does not show just the major technological strides in these three countries. It follows a Swiss retiree, who restores old computers for the training of youth in Ugandan suburbs. In the absence of constant electricity, he installs a solar-power system for these computers to function.

TRACnet is a medical software developed by a virologist in an AIDS Hospital in Rwanda. This helps him share his patients’ records with hospitals in neighbouring towns and countries. He is also involved in developing techniques that have helped reduce mother to child transmission of the virus.

There is little doubt that all these are not baby steps. Linking Africa shows that the coming years will see Africa as an important global ICT player. To back this point, the documentary featured a female software developer and lecturer at Kenya’s Makerere University, who got a job in an international ICT firm even before the documentary finished shooting.

With the iHub in Kenya poised to be another bright spot on Africa’s tech map, the link between the continent and the world gets stronger with each passing day. You’ll definitely believe this after watching Linking Africa.


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