We are well into 2014, Zambia’s golden jubilee year, with Independence Day just around the corner. It seems like a good time to reflect on what freedom in Africa means today.
There has been much progress on that front. We all know that Zambia has been celebrating its independence since 1964. There have been many ups and downs, even since my arrival in Monze Hospital in 1981. But there are many more battles to be won …
I grew up on a farm between Ndola, Luanshya and Mpongwe. We had no electricity, running water or any form of communication except a radio with limited stations and poor quality sound. One could argue that this upbringing did in itself give me freedom. It was a wonderfully simple life and I was free to play, explore and enjoy my childhood. One could also argue that we were blocked off from the big wide world. At the time I did not feel that way, maybe because I went off to boarding school at age 10, and had opportunities to visit family abroad.
Access to information brings knowledge, which in turn leads to more choices. And so information brings the opportunity for growth and an awareness of how to tackle the challenges we face.
I am passionate about Africa and its need to continue to develop infrastructure in order to increase access to and improve the quality of the internet. That way more and more people will gain access to mobile technology information so that knowledge spreads.
If children can have access to the internet whilst researching their homework, knowledge is spreading. If small villages can have access to even one or two cell phones with internet access, they can have expand their knowledge on health care and agriculture. Information and knowledge is key to the development of Africa.
There may be a place for well managed aid, but when it comes to the trade v. aid debate, I am firmly in the trade camp. This is because, if we encourage business, we encourage employment, self belief and self respect; we encourage opportunities for education and increased access to the internet.
I love the internet. I work in marketing and communications to help spread information through the internet. I love how we encourage trade through thebestofzambia.com. By putting people online we are opening up Zambia to international opportunities. We are enabling the growing Zambian population with access to the internet to be able to make informed decisions about what they do and who they choose to buy from.
We are also encouraging competition. And competition, if managed fairly, cultivates a culture of ongoing improvement and quality standards.