Reply to Susanna Dodgson RE: Broadband Build Out in Nigeria

over at

Her post:

This is all great, but the hurdles are still huge. I went to a
Corporate Council on Africa Health Forum in November and was listening
to a talk by a South African CEO of a pharmaceutical company. He said
something astounding: he refuses ever to pay a bribe anywhere. This is
the first time I have heard this said and it is exciting.

What has this to do with highspeed internet in Nigeria? Everything.
This is a country with daily power outages (and the power company
employees demand bribes to provide even sporadic power, at least that
was what I saw in BAV studios where I work in Surulere); a country when
even canned tomatoes has to be imported (and Nigerian food has tomatoes
in everything). Given that back-drop, is high-speed internet somehow
avoiding all payment of bribes, avoiding corruption? I desperately want
the answer to be yes.

My reply:

Technologically, of course, the answer is easy. WiMax and solar energy vendors should team up to build out the grid. One could avoid the ground by using blimps, drones, etc. RE: Bribes seen as a fee-for-service where there is no other meaningful industry exists, well, that's a catch-22. Broadband could bring knowledge work (if global employers would learn to pay for something other than butts-in-seats, i.e. driving into a plant in order to post on a wiki or write software {see Results-Only Work Environments at your local search engine}). Bribes purely for sloth, well, that's a theological problem, which, ironically, broadband could help (at least in delivering seminary curricula). The one anti-corruption benefit of broadband is the enabling wiki-eske ability to create "walls of shame" near real-time — both of the ones perpetrating the corruption — and of the law enforcement officials for not prosecuting them (in those cases where the actors aren't the same people). XBRL was just mandated yesterday in the US for firms over 5 billion — so getting to underlying data is at least theoretically going to be easier. Wish I had more optimistic answers.

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