Some Thoughts on Technology Adoption
I just returned from a trip to South Africa and Zambia. Certainly makes you appreciate the technology infrastructure we have here. Hooking my laptop up to WiFi was always problematic, always for a charge and always very slow. Talking to our business partners there, they said you can’t expect customers to have email addresses – most don’t. Cell phones are very prevalent though and generally the best infrastructure (there aren’t any landlines to most buildings). The Africans are very sensitive to bandwidth since it tends to be limited, and requite all business applications to work in this environment efficiently.
The hotel I stayed at in Zambia was very modern and very nice to stay at; however they were still using hand written receipts with carbon paper at several locations to do room charges. The main restaurants had the usual bill/receipt printers, but that was it. However there still seemed to be good cell phone coverage everywhere. And this in a country where I only saw one paved road, all the rest being dirt and quite bumpy.
The South Africans are currently building a new fiber optic link from India to Mtunzini (just north of Durban). Their plan is to greatly increase the countries overall bandwidth in time for the 2010 World Cup being held there. They want to make sure everyone attending can update their Facebook, send/receive emails, etc.
Anyway its interesting to see technology being deployed to these developing countries fairly rapidly. Hopefully this will enhance their education system and allow further self sufficient development. South Africa already has a thriving software development industry, perhaps as infrastructure is deployed to neighboring countries this can spread too.