Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Take A Bow

applause In two days an event I helped orchestrate, or at the least planted the seed for, will take place where African Technology Entrepreneurs from the east and west coasts will compare notes about what makes them who they are. These are men and women who have committed themselves, for many reasons, to make the internet the tool they will use to change their individual fortunes or those of their societies, and in some cases both.

They do this in the face of great difficulty. In Nigeria we simply do not have electricity. Individual access to the internet is ridiculously expensive. let’s not even get started on the political issues. The folks on other side of the continent have their own equally daunting challenges. Still they have determined to make this their canvas for creativity and their marketplace for prosperity.

Despite the difficulties, these visionaries strive on to make their mark on the world. As a blogger, I have the really easy part. I look at what other people are doing and say things like “you should have done it this way” or “you should do this instead of that” or even “what a stupid idea that was”. I can make broad sweeping pronouncements from the comfort of my keyboard. I can chronicle in a few thousand words what people lived and suffered through. It is dead easy to be just like every armchair Arsenal fan declaring what he would have done in Wengar’s shoes. I am not one of those spending sleepless nights pounding away at lines of code that don’t compile right until weeks of inspection show that the problem was using “0” instead of “O” in the 3795th line of the 97th class specification. Tough as my corporate IT job can be, I can only imagine the challenges of driving traffic to a great digital product that no one knows or cares about that comes up as the one million, three hundred and fifty-five thousand, nine hundred and sixty-second search result – and that’s after you’ve applied every search engine optimisation principle you can find. Then some bozo like me comes along and says it’s just another Facebook clone.

Which is why I write this piece to celebrate you guys. I and others like me will continue to write, both promoting and pummelling your work because, well it needs to be done. You need to be challenged to do better. To stretch your selves. To do more. We need to write to chronicle your challenges, to highlight your victories and record your errors for all to see and learn from. For in recording, we help give perspective to your works and in our own ways shape the future.

So, before I continue with that mission, I pause to celebrate your industry, your ingenuity and your tenacity. I think you guys are doing a tremendous work and I believe, Nigeria, Africa and the world as a whole will benefit from what you do. Some of you will even smile to the bank. So what if the ISP fouls up and the hard drive crashes, or you delete all your content because you slept off on your keyboard or just before you launched someone releases the exact same product? You’ll figure out a way to make it happen. You already have.

So, the Internet Entrepreneurs of Africa, all rise. Step forward. Take a bow.


Image courtesy of shaggy359 at flickr.com.