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Africa should follow China online

Website effectiveness consultant David Bowen reflects on all the recent discussion about how Africa’s entrepreneurs can play a key role in changing the continent’s future. However, when he goes online to find evidence of African IT-entrepreneurship he finds very little to be optimistic about:

I have looked for evidence of African commercial activity on the web,- which has the great advantage of being very low cost - and am disappointed. But look elsewhere in the developing world – particularly China – and there are plenty of clues to show a path that might be followed… But overall my trawl for business sites was depressing. It looks as though the African web has done the same as most African economies – stayed still while others rushed ahead. Asian traders realized early that as a great networking mechanism, the internet offered them new opportunities.

He notes that most of the Asian websites are quite bad – but at least they get the job done. While it is clear that there exists strong financial and capacity restraints for moving online in Africa, it is certainly a development which would give these entrepreneurs more of a chance.