Who is profiting from internet in The Gambia?


Who is profiting from internet in The Gambia?

Technology is sampling the benefit one gets from interacting with an application/Software. Applications in internet space run on platform; platform run on infrastructure.  Too much infancies on application without platform and infrastructure in place will have an adverse effect in cost of doing business in The Gambia. Software and Application developers do not sell their products like they used to, is more of Pay as You Go or Use. Internet is interconnection of LAN and WAN. No one or organization own or control internet. What person or organization own are their infrastructures. Data Centers are the brain of internet. Over 99% of data we access over internet comes from Data Centers somewhere. Internet is all about Source (location of Web Servers or Data Centers). latency and internet cost have a lot to do with how far you are from Source and operational cost of Source location. Gambians as end users, may not be benefiting a lot from technology if most of the websites, applications or data, they interact with are running on platforms outside The Gambia. Unless there are other infrastructures in place such as Squid Cache Proxy Servers or CDN that I am not aware of.

Microsoft just spent 30 billion dollars on building Azure Data Centers in South Africa. Azure services are divided into 18 categories and contains more than 200 services. Some of those services they will be offing are (Infrastructure as Services), (Platform as Services), (Software as Services) mostly to African countries. In addition to their main Data Centers, Most Technology Giants in United States and other developed nations have their end users’ sources close to them, by partnering with private Data Centers. For Example, if you live in Atlanta, you do not have to go to Microsoft Data Centers to access their resources. Most likely, the Sources are within metro Atlanta area.  The big question is, will Tech giants extend the same infrastructure set up in most African countries? Why has that not been done? Is it because most African countries does not have infrastructures in place? Or did not meet compliances requirement such Export Regulation? Remember, Part of the reason Nigerian lost to South African in a bid to build 30 billion dollars Microsoft Azure Data Center in Nigeria was because Microsoft claimed that Nigerian does not have the infrastructure in place.

Are we paying attention to Indirect Cost of using internet? As a Data Center Engineer for 17 years, I know the cost associated with taking data out of a Data Center. There is no free lunch, as the old saying goes, if it is free, then you are the products. Going to free sites like YouTube, Face book does not necessarily mean free. For example, If I live in Basse, I offer free rice store in Banjul to my neighbors, is going to cost them more for them to go get that rice than if the same rice is store in Basse. In my Option, what Gambia need is to increase access to internet through price reduction and broadband is not how you accomplish that. Broadband is simply faster than what I already had. Building broadband infrastructure in Gambia now, is like building 3-way lanes from Berikama to Basse when an average people who use that road cannot afford a motor bike much less than a car. Investment in local IT infrastructure is how you bring inbound traffic down, lower prices, increase access and will create low IT tech jobs. Having the right local IT infrastructure in place will also save millions of Dallas in unnecessary travelling expense within and outside the country with deployments of ticketing systems, skype meeting, intranet, extranet, portal etc. Is impossible to guarantee 4G or 5G with 80 to 90% inbound traffic. FCC define broadband as 25 Mbps download and 6 Mbps Upload, the truth is, we are not United States.

Building any internet infrastructure today require understanding of Data Center infrastructure, operation and politic behind as they are the brain of internet. DBA’s, Software Engineers and Web designers are not Data Center Engineers. As they are more concentrate in application layer of the OSI while Data Centers are in first 3 layers and little bit of layer 4. Electrical Engineers and Electrical Contractor are not power plant Engineer. A journalist is not a Data Center Engineer.

Next, how low Orbit Satellites might change internet world. Therefore, we need to use baby steps approach going forward in building our internet infrastructures. Make sure they are modular, scalable and can adopt to changing technology. Also have mind Moore’s law theory and Benchmark as we invest in our technology space. Be realistic in approaching our technology space, make sure our infrastructures can be support by our local skillsets.

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