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From Armed Revolution to a Technology Revolution

20 May, 2013
ICT Africa Writer
May 20, 2013

It has been 19 years since the end of apartheid, 23 years since the independence of Namibia, 33 years since the independence of Zimbabwe, 38 years since the independence of Mozambique and also 38 years since the independence of Angola. Participation in the armed struggles means very different things to those who consider themselves revolutionary war heroes. For some, contribution to the liberation of their people has become a passport to terrorise, maim and assassinate their political rivalries. For some, it is a mandate to loot as much property, land and wealth as they so wish, even if that brings their national economies to a halt. But for some, the end of the revolutions they participated in was only a beginning of a journey to African renaissance, driven by modern technology.

In an earlier article, Who is Who in Africa ICT? we profiled a few of the people who play leading roles in driving ICT in Africa. One of them is Andile Ngcaba, the chairman of Dimension Data, a specialist IT services and solution provider, and owner of convergence Partners, a technology investment company in South Africa. What we did not tell you then is that Andile was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC in South Africa. As soon as Apartheid was dismantled, Andile set out to embrace modern ICT technologies as a vehicle to sustained economic development for South Africa and the continent at large.

Andile is one of the forces behind the establishment of Fibreco , a consortium of Cell C, Internet Solutions and Convergence Partners, that is rolling out a national terrestrial long haul fibre optic network in South Africa. With so many submarine cables now landing in Africa, including SEACOM which Convergence Partners is an investor, a significant rollout of terrestrial long haul networks is required. Terrestrial long haul networks connect cities, communities, provinces and countries to one another and to the rest of the world through submarine cables. They also bring submarine capacity from landing points to communities inland and they carry mobile traffic. The Fibreco network will go a long way to providing the much needed backbone connectivity in South Africa.

I once met Andile at a Fibre Optic Association FOA training workshop in Midrand, South Africa, and asked him what drove him to initiate the deployment of such a huge terrestrial long haul fibre optic network. He said that he wanted to drastically reduce the high cost of connectivity in South Africa. That was a truly revolutionary attitude that I expect from anyone who claims to be a revolutionary war hero.

Andile’s story reminds me of the book, The Endless Journey: From a liberation struggle to driving emerging technologies in Africa. In the book, the author talks about how he participated in the armed struggle but devoted his life to promoting ICT development in Africa after his country’s independence.

I hope that all this could be enough motivation for Africans, including the revolutionary war heroes, to focus on the development of their countries and the continent at large instead of focusing solely on themselves at the cost of destroying their countries.


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