Ugandans will only be able to reap big from the growing influence of the internet only when they figure out how to make money online, a Google officer has said.
Kai Uwe Wulff, the access development director at Google was the key speaker during the Mobile Monday Kampala Chapter's latest topical meeting. The topic was on how democratization of mobile broadband will impact the lives of Ugandans and what possibilities lay ahead for them to harness these opportunities.
Mobile broadband internet offers new ways of working that enable people to work from home, video conference, do cloud-based storage and back-up. More Ugandans are said to be increasingly accessing the internet through mobile phones and these have revolutionalized how people find and view content and how they get things done.
Speaking at the forum on Nov 19, Wulff said Ugandans should realize that the world has moved forward and that communication is no longer communication in the neighbourhood or the water cooler but it is global in nature.
He said democratization of mobile broadband is not about access to the internet but also what the people can do with the internet and he urged Ugandans to put as much content online as possible because the more information is shared, the more it becomes beneficial to the online community and the world. Quoting the Google mission which seeks to avail as much and more useful information online as possible, he noted that only fair and equal access to broadband will make the world a better place.
And although, nowhere else in the world is communication more expensive in absolute terms than in Africa, Wulffe encouraged internet users in Uganda to learn to monetize what they know and what they have.
He further noted that for Ugandans to start earning big even when broadband access in the country gets more realistic, they need to start believing a little more in their abilities and drop the idea that what happens outside their borders is sexier than what happens in their vicinity.
He said the reason as to why an average American uploads about 2000 posts online than an average Ugandan may not be because of affordability and accessibility of internet services but rather it is the willingness and belief that the information they have is useful to others out there.
"Mistrust in our own abilities here in Africa is still a challenge. We must start by us believing in Africa; that we can create our own content," Wulffe said, before adding that Ugandans must also actively be part of the conversation by commenting on things that others have contributed.
He was responding to a lecturer at the African Virtual University, Ashis Brahma, who noted that the Facebook and blogging culture in Uganda is such that people do not respond to conversations and that internet is used very passively.
Mobile Monday or 'MoMo' is a global network of mobile industry professionals, visionaries, developers and entrepreneurs in over 100 cities around the world. The Kampala Chapter which was launched in 2010 is among the five on the African continent. Each city chapter discusses issues specific to the local needs in monthly forums.