Virtual Africa

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My curiosity was trigged by an article in SLNN on a project called Virtual Africa. Dorette Steenkamp, a South-African businesswoman who’s among those in charge for the project, said: “To take the narrow view that Africa will never be able to participate in a global virtual world environment, is to sadly perpetuate the digital divide and to exclude Africa philosophically from being an active player in the next Internet revolution.” I couldn’t agree more.

On visiting their sim, I was lucky enough to meet both Steenkamp, who’s SL name is Alanagh Recreant, and her colleague Bukari Seibert. They were happy to tell me everything about the project, and show me around. “Virtual Africa is an initiative of Uthango Social Investments, a registered NGO based in Cape Town. One of our main reasons for being in Second Life is to connect with creative, lateral-thinking people that could solve complex problems – like the ones we face daily in our first world,” Recreant said.

They showed me a huge building called the African Roundtable, filled with seats like a congress, with all the 54 African flags swaying on top. “Imagine that this place is filled with representatives from African countries, discussing and sharing solutions,” Recreant said enthustiastically. The roundtable is part of Uthango’s Bottom of the Pyramid Innovation Centre, that will showcase African innovation, and look at contributions from Africans and African companies to solve the continent’s challenges.

Asked if Second Life is the best tool to bring more development to Africa, where broadband and fancy computers isn’t as common as in Europe and North America, Recreant saw the limitations. “We may just be about 24 months ahead of the broadband infrastructure solutions for connecting Africa, when new cables will be laid down. But we know it’s right to have Africa leap frog straight into this, and not wait. To leap the African challenges and not to be led.”

Virtual Africa has a blog where you can see what they’ve done so far.

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~ by theresecarfagno on September 1, 2007.

2 Responses to “Virtual Africa”

  1. Thank you very much for your article, Therese. We would like to add that we are currently looking at the development of VIRTUAL AFRICA as an orientation sim, and hope to have it all up and running later this year…

  2. Good luck on that, Alanagh! I’ll be watching you.

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