Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Before the kickoff: of balls, broadband and Brazil

In a few days, it will be the kickoff of the FIFA Soccer World Cup in Brazil. Across all football-loving countries, the fever is mounting. Fan frenzy is getting crazy, way before the kickoff.
Are we ready?
We ask that question right until the opening ceremony. Anything can go wrong. We inspect infrastructure: stadia, hotel capacity, roads, airports, etc. We double-check lists: team lists, team staff lists, stadium staff lists, list of officials, etc. We check prices: tickets for matches, flight tickets, hotel costs, local transport, etc. We check for security, return on investment, fan satisfaction, tourism gains. We monitor..
Unknown to many soccer fans, Brazil hosted a 2-day Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in April.. Don’t bother making up the acronym from the initial letters. The country decided to align the meeting to the “prevailing mood” and named it “Net Mundial”. In other words the Internet equivalent of the “Mundial”. In hosting NetMundial, Brazil was contributing to the global Net game. Making it faster and better.
Sold out
If you were planning to be part of the FIFA World Cup and are yet to get a ticket by the time this post is published, then it might be too late. Tickets are all almost sold out. World Cup match tickets are not “there for the asking”. There is a limited number of them. In the world of the Internet, they are called “Critical Resources”. These are resources that everyone needs and wants to have, but only a few possess. Access to the Internet at an affordable rate is one of those! Two-third’s of the world population are still dreaming of affordable access to the Internet.
Balls and broadband
There will be great Brazil 2014 memorabilia. Some may want to get a shot at the jerseys of famous players. Others may want a photo opportunity with a star. Brazuca, the official ball, will certainly be in high demand. Whichever way, Internet connection will be in higher demand than all of these. Internet service providers in Brazil are already rolling out “World Cup” packages. These tend to give unlimited Internet Connection for less than 1$ per day. Can the offers hold through the games? Will they continue after the games?
The World Cup and the World Wide Web
Did you know? It will almost be impossible for anybody to get a ticket to any of the World Cup matches without logging on to the FIFA website. Almost all tickets are applied for and sold online. Collection is the only thing you do offline. Without necessarily blowing its trumpets, FIFA may well become the largest organization that uses the Internet and inspires its use. Without doubt, the World Cup will be more enjoyable to those who have broadband Internet connection. In these days of:
Live tweeting;
Parallel online World Cup Matches for fans;
Match streaming on mobiles:
Balls must meet broadband. Brazil must raise the game. FIFA must pay attention to affordable Internet and fans must claim their rights as web citizens!

Game on!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Quand Le Congo expulse les congolais, les africains doivent s'en indigner

Il est le matin de dimanche 11 mai. Je suis le débat “africain” sur Radio France Internationale. Un plateau des frères congolais de deux rives – Brazzaville et Kinshasa. Le sujet: l'expulsion des milliers des congolais (RDC) du Congo.

Le Chef de la Police du Congo-Brazza reconnait que ses hommes n'ont pas respecté les consignes. Ils ont carrément dépouillé les Kinois - téléphones portables, bijoux, argent. On polémique sur le nombre des expulsés. Le Congo-Brazza parle des quelques 3000 qui comprenaient aussi d'autres nationalités, mais reconnait que plus de 57000 sont partis. Les autorités de la RDC elles, parlent de plus de 72000.

Tout cela se passe en Afrique, entre deux pays frères. Deux pays qui partagent un même nom, qui parlent la même langue.

D'après une autorité de la RDC, pendant trois jours, il n'y a pas eu des barques pour faire traverser la foule. Trois jours pendant lesquels il pleuvait. Des milliers des congolais massés au bord la fleuve, sous la belle étoile.. sous la pluie. Des familles tout-entières, les mamans avec les bébés en main... incroyable mais vrai!!

Pourquoi? Quelle est la raison de cette expulsion? L'insécurité. C'est la raison officielle donnée par Le Congo-Brazza. Oui, oui. En avril 2014, un gouvernement africain décide d'expulser des milliers des personnes  pour garder sa “sécurité”. C'est à dire, pour qu'un pays maintient sa sécurité, le seul moyen qu'il trouve, c'est l'EXPULSION des étrangers vivant su son territoire.. Et cela se passe en Afrique..

Je m'en indigne. Je condamne. Mobiliser 1500 policiers pour expulser 3000 étrangers pour un mois? Moi je dis que là, il y a un objectif affiché de terroriser des familles. Et cela explique bien pourquoi plus des 20 fois le nombre officiel des expulsés ont décidé de plier bagages par eux-mêmes, et de partir.

C'est une honte. C'est une honte pour chaque africain. C'est un honte pour chaque africain vivant dans un pays qui n'est pas le sien. C'est une humiliation pour chaque être humain avec la peau noire.

S'il suffit seulement pour un pays d'évoquer “l'insécurité” pour lancer une opération d'expulsion de masse tel que Le Congo l'a fait.. alors nous sommes mal barrés.

Le Congo l'a fait. Demain ce sera un pays Schengen...

Monday, March 31, 2014

5 Minutes or 5 hours: the Internet connection will decide.

Image from Adventurous-soul.com

I had a clear plan of what I wanted to achieve in 5 minutes when I got to the bank. I have done this before and I knew how long it takes.

Step 1: Check latest status of local account
Step 2: Flip out a Visa card that is linked to an international account
Step 3: Withdraw a given amount from the international account to feed into the local account
Step 4: Send cash via a money transfer service to someone in an un-banked rural area
Step 5: Send the transaction details of the money transfer to the receiver by SMS
Step 6: Go home.

But this very day, things just did not work out the way they should. There has been a general Internet connectivity low in the city and I did not take that into consideration when I was doing my 5-minutes calculations. As always, I walk into the bank and the first uncomfortable thing was the sight of the many people on the queue. I sensed a problem.

“Madam, we have a problem with the Internet connection. Our systems are slow.”

I told myself, I could use the time that the queue lasts to do one or two things. I keep my place on the queue, and walk over to the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) outside. Step 1 was to find out the status of the local account.

“This service cannot be completed at the moment” the ATM said.

Fine, I told myself. Since I was at the bank, I might as well ask Customer Service to check up on that account.

Madame, even the intra-bank communications are not going”

Step 1 is foiled. I tell myself that I will get to that some time. It is important to proceed to Steps 2 and 3. I get the Visa card out, to be able to pull the cash I needed.

“Your financial Institution is unavailable.”

The message here is that connections between us and other banks are just not working at the moment.

So I am on the queue to send cash that I have not yet withdrawn from an account which is impossible to access! I need a B Plan. The people in the village are waiting for the money. It took me 3 hours to be able to raise the cash needed. And now I realise to what extent my savings and financial life are linked to the Internet!!

It takes another 30 minutes to do the money transfer. “Madam, please be patient, our Internet is slow today”.

Yes. “The Internet is slow today” and I have lost 5 hours of productivity, emotional balance and almost the trust of people who are dear to me.

Affordable, reliable and broadband Internet. Give it to me, and I will gain time, productivity and trust.