The latest Forbes special report on ‘Networks’ has some interesting articles about how ICT networks could impact our lives. Some of the ideas may seem a bit removed from reality for people living in developing countries, but they illustrate important principles.
For example, FedEx chairman, Frederick W Smith, describes the technology behind delivering a bouquet of flowers to your mother overnight. It relies on a system that can sort up to 500,000 packages an hour, and reflects an annual investment of roughly US$1.5 billion a year on information technology.
Impressive stuff – but what does it mean for developing nations?
FedEx exemplifies what a company (or, for that matter, a country) can do if the necessary infrastructure is in place. That infrastructure – whether it’s roads, electricity supplies, or computer networks – is just as important as the information or products it enables to circulate.
Of course, many developing countries lack it or have to fork out huge sums of money to access it. As Smith says: “At FedEx, our ultimate product is access”. That’s why projects like the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) are so crucial in connecting marginalised citizens to each other and the rest of the world.