What I took away from NSA PRISM Slides


By a long shot, the NSA presentation on PRISM is one of the worst by a government organisation. That’s saying a lot since I’m not a good power point person myself.

In the slide, the African bandwidth capacity looked dismally small.

Very bad on one level. However, this is unrealised OPPORTUNITY here. Lots of them.

Opportunities – Update to the post

The opportunities in increasing the band width capacity (and actually using it is numerous) – from the very obvious to the unquantifiable.

Like the Industrial Revolution, there’s a potential economic shift coming if the Internet Bandwidth revolution happens.

In the not too distant past in Nigeria, cyber cafés were viable businesses. So was the typist. There has slowly been a shift in the type of jobs of available as IT infrastructure is being developed. There has been phenomenal growth in internet usage in Africa. Growth of internet is outstripping mobile telephony.

The opportunity for Africa lies in the efficiency the internet ecosystem delivers. Mundane things (stuffs the first world takes for granted), such as great communication, would greatly improve commerce. Less fuel would be expended in travelling; more intelligent systems would be deployed on physical infrastructures already in place and those that are being built, this would save time and increase efficiency.

There are would be increased employment from e-commerce websites as well as from sectors such as logistics that support online shopping website.

Africa has one of the largest unbanked populations in the world. A lot of value would be delivered if mobile money project such as M-PESA is replicated in lots of places. It would allow a big pool of capital to be available which could be used by entrepreneurs for investments.

Online shopping would be more accessible with access to wider variety of goods/services. This would free up a lot of capital/resources to do other things.

Included in an increased bandwidth capacity package and better access to the internet is the availability of direct citizen actions and better scrutiny of the government by citizens. This delivers long term value and hopefully translates to better governance as it forces government to become more transparent. Not necessarily good news to corrupt government. One more incentive by bad governments to block the development of bandwidths.

There are the unquantifiable benefits. What is Twitter and Facebook worth to discussions/relationship? Quora? Nairaland? Kenyebestforum? Or what is that new girlfriend or wife you met online worth to you? Or realtime news update – there’s the pros and cons of the current hyperconnectivity.

Better bandwidth would not be necessarily good news for everyone. The efficiency associated with good internet access would kill off a lot of traditional jobs. Retail jobs and what we define as journalism would have to adapt to a new reality.

Like the Industrial Revolution, the immediate gains would be to the skilled peoples who are well positioned to take advantage of increased income. Over time, the benefits would definitely filter to the larger society.


2 thoughts on “What I took away from NSA PRISM Slides

  1. Pingback: What NSA PRISM Slides Tell Us About African Bandwidth Capacity

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