The internet: diverging needs in emerging technology markets?
We know that African banks are investing more in essential infrastructure but its easy to forget that investing in digital businesses such as with mobile communications is essential. It’s not that surprising, for us at least, to find a bank in Kenya looking to buy a telecommunications company ? The bank in question wants to provide better and more secure services to their customers; a rapidly growing consumer class who need improved mobile banking and payment facilities. Essentially this bank wants to limit some of the growing problems they experience with online security in Kenya, for example with the serious problem of identity theft. We are likely to see much more of this type of investment in mobile communications in both West and East African hubs in 2014 and not just for banking, there are plenty of social and political reasons too. Of course investment in technology and security, online and off, is a much discussed issue in Africa and the UK but we’re at different stages in developing it. What we know is that, it’s critically important for a range of important industries including, retail, shipping and the oil and gas industry.
However, how often do we think about the global, context of this investment in technology? We have much less difficulty talking about iron and steel/ ships sailing under different flags across international seas to delivery our value added products in African ports. As ordinary punters we may know a little bit about the real but manageable problems of moving ships between countries, from international law, flag state law to littoral state law, but with digital products things get even more complicated. Mostly, we can’t see the engineering that is behind the delivery of the product. Where do discussions about cybersecurity, internet governance and data protection begin? Well, we need to understand what underpins the internet and mobile communications first and that’s ‘internet governance’. With some knowledge of global governance we can begin to answer the question: are we beginning to see significantly diverging needs with emerging digital markets in rapidly developing African countries… and will this lead to the fracture of the international internet we know or even separate alternative internet structures? This is something we want to explore further in this space. To what extent is it still possible to have global principles for the governance of a secure internet? The bigger question is who controls the internet? Read more about the World Telecommunication/ICT Policy Forum.