Africa We Want

It will not be surprising if you have read many explanations on how the internet began. But I think it wouldn’t be out of place if I can briefly explain it one more time.

Internet was created by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency. Then it was called ARPRANET in the 1960s. It was originally a network that could switch “packets” of information from computer to computer.

Philip Emeawgali Philip born in 1954, is regarded as the pioneer internet scientist. In 1989 he stunned the world with a connection machine while studying for his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. He used the internet to link 65,000 computers on earth that calculated 1.3 billion calculations per second. Philip Emeawgali is a Nigerian and African, that faced uncertain future as a teenager during 1966 Nigeria's civil war. He was forced out of school into refugee camps just like many today. At the camp, he studied on his own and at age 17 won scholarship to Oregun State University, USA. His future plan is to build a World Wide Brain- the “brain of brains” that will make the internet faster and within the reach of people all over the world.

I pray that works out real good.

The big issue Africa as I see, is yet to tap fully into the benefit of internet like other continents for reasons I don’t know. Internet awareness is still very slow and low in penetration in Africa, and is extremely expensive to access and use. African Government has done little to address this in policy formulations. But this negligence has limited so many young Africans to take led from the breakthrough Philip Emeawgali made to the world. It is disturbing to see Africa in analogue than digital? For instance, why is African Government still run in papers and files? Why is Government finding it difficult to give out information to public on request? Are we suppose to request for it or it is the responsibility of Government to put information in public for us? Tell me more, why our democracies are autocratic, and Government policies difficult to understand by citizens? I know, democracy need citizens, active citizens that are willing to be part in civic life. But we are afraid and intimated into silence. I have learn and seen how other youths in other climes get engaged with their Government. I have seen how the internet has served as nexus. And I know the internet offers civic space for participation for all and Africa can take advantage too. But as it seems, I am not sure if Africa Government is ready to open up and make Government open and accessible. Internet can allow everyday citizens to interact with billions of documents, communicate with one another, and share information at a click? What are the big issues young African citizens have? It is less interest in Governance and complex. It is complex when we see Governance as if, Governance is not of us, for us and by us, I suppose. It is complex when youths hoard information among themselves for selfish gratification. I mean it is complex when we are less concern about news about Africa, and consider it “their Africa”. Why should we see ourselves as weak when we are strong? Why do we work separate ways without a common voice that can hold our leaders accountable. Why do we believe our voice does not count? Why can’t we seek for information knowing fully well that information is power? You see, there is no where you can make thoughtful decisions, engaged Government, influence policies and decisions unless you stay informed. And the internet can do all this for you and me, including the other youths too. E- Government According to Africa Union Agenda 2063, AU intend to learn from it past experience, build on progress now and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in short, medium and long term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation in the next 50 years. That Agenda, to my mind should target E-Governance as the way of achieving the Agenda. If not, the Agenda will be a long talk to walk for 50 years. Open Government is simply E-Government should be adopted by AU to its member countries to make it much easier for Africans especially the youths to learn about Government, policies before and after formulation, check on elected officials and weed out dictatorship. Request service and participation, eliminate rulership and breed leadership with good followership, and buried sit tight rule in all guise. My thought is the same as yours, African youths look forward to a day when Africans will do business with our Government online instead of standing in queue and lines. We look forward to the day where we will obtain birth certificates, marriage licenses, pay taxes etc online. We dream of AU common passport which is come to pass, dream of commenting on public servant’s performances without intimidation, vote and be voted for electronically, view the constitution online, see budgets on websites, and use common currency and much much more. That is the kind of Africa we all want.

To use the internet to stay politically attuned and active, to learn about candidate’s background at elections, positions on issues, recent speeches and so on.  That is Africa we want. Where respect for human rights, dignity and life is guaranteed. That is the Africa we want. Where there is peace, justice and tranquility. That is the Africa we want.

I know I may not to get there with you, but I know one day my children and children’s children will be proud that they are Africans and stand tall. Living equally in Africa they want. By then, I know by then Africa would have been free from tyranny. I have a dream.

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