Digitalization of East African economies could festinate development

Posted on November 16, 2013 12:44 am

The digitalization of East African economies coupled with push for the technology and telecommunication industries will help the region grow faster. Two years ago, I had to conduct a video conferencing through a 3G mobile network but unfortunately the plan collapsed even before starting. Efforts to get a word from 3G operator was futile but an insider who happened to be a friend admitted that their networks could not handle such huge amounts of mobile data. One thing that I observed was that Video conferencing via my iPhone 4 during that time took up 50 to 150 times more bandwidth than a typical cellphone. Excess bandwidth consumption is the simple reason networks are already buckling under from the increasing number of smartphones. This could be the reason Apple never put any permanent feature into its gadgets unless the company can be certain it is going to offer a transforming experience for its user. Luckily, 4G technology allow Internet users to enjoy super-fast access and when it comes to video conferencing frustrations such as those of mine two years ago have become rare. In this quest, 4G technology is playing a critical role as it allows to consumers enjoy better Internet services and huge consumers of data like companies to migrate data and information faster and more securely that before one of the reason why there is an enhanced efficiency in their businesses. The 3G mobile video-conferencing devices used to irritate and can never advise any user to use it because of their snail speed a factor that has re affirmed why they are unpopular.

My usage experiences have shown that 4G networks offers the best solution to the problem and there is no doubt the fourth-generation technology has several advantages from faster data-transmission speeds to reliable connectivity. One of my experiences has shown 4G network speeds are more than 5 times faster than those of a 3G network. When 3G networks were designed, primary concern was voice communications rather than the more demanding data transmission capability but 4G was specifically designed with data rather than voice transmission in mind. The fourth generation offers streaming-video works much better and there is less stutter and users benefit from higher-resolution video images. Me think implementation of 4G technology in East African countries will potentially boost the region’s GDP by close to 5% per annum. That would translate into hundreds of thousands if not millions of new high-paying jobs and there would be emergence of new industries. This will also mean entrepreneurs in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi will experiment with new ideas in ways they never dreamed of doing before. Unlike Kenya and Rwanda, the other East African Community member states have not excelled at ICT and information technology despite the fact that Uganda and Tanzania have almost the same level of talented computer experts like Kenya, the two countries have not been able to produce many IT engineers with exception of the region’s best university of Makerere. However, I believe that the introduction of 4G technology could change all that. Governments need to get involved and invest heavily in new IT and broadband services as the case in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. There is no doubt in my mind the investment payoff will be immense and it will provide the platform for the East African countries to become a middle income economies in the next 16 years.

Contador Harrison