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How Africa can benefit from the data revolution

There is a shift in the emphasis from central to distributed computing. Distributed computing architectures are normally less vulnerable to failure and more accessible for everyday users. The modern computer is the mobile phone, and in this sector African countries are not far behind. In 2014 Kenya had an 82% penetration (pdf) for mobile phones, with 33.6m subscriptions in a population of 40 million. Access to the internet in the home is also becoming more common. In Kenya home broadband subscriptions are growing rapidly, but all of the growth is through systems that use the mobile telecommunications network. New protocols such as WiMAX have the potential to reduce the gap even further …

The information infrastructure does not require large scale thinking and investment to deliver. In fact, it requires just the reverse. It requires agility and innovation. Larger companies cannot react quickly enough to exploit technological advances. Small companies with a good idea can grow quickly. From IBM to Microsoft, Google and now Facebook. All these companies now agree on one thing: data is where the value lies. Modern internet companies are data-driven from the ground up. Could the same thing happen in Africa’s economies? Can entire countries reformulate their infrastructures to be data-driven from the ground up? Read more…

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