Last week dealt a blow to the tech world with the passing of a man that transformed the world of personal computing; Silicon Valley is a world away from Rwanda and yet there might be something we can learn from the man that has been put in the same league as Thomas Edison-Steve Jobs.
I am well aware that Apple products have hardly penetrated Rwandan tech spheres-in fact, it is very unlikely that Apple products will penetrate our market like Windows-based products owing to the fact that Apple is the link between their hardware and the software that goes with it.
This was illustrated when Steve Jobs’ free offer to the One Laptop Per Child Programme was turned down; his Apple-operating software was ruled out as one that would make the users depend on Apple-imposed updates and leave less room for an operating system adjusted to their own ideas-hence the choice of Linux (As you might know, Rwanda is part of the OLPC project).
A man who transcended his personal and professional circumstances, Jobs showed us that no matter where we are, we could shoot for the moon and land among the stars.
The challenges faced by the Rwandan entrepreneurs make it an uphill battle to achieve success but this does not mean we cannot leverage the power of technology.
Given the opportunities, there is room to steer more in the direction of technology entrepreneurship; thanks to our current leadership, this is rapidly growing.
We definitely have something in our hands; think about the ubiquitous mobile phone that has placed power in the hands of the average Rwandan and fast-tracked many aspects of our economy especially since communication is pivotal to business.
The fact that Internet is becoming an integral part of our lives means we have a huge opportunity in terms of adding local content; with regional trading on the rise, this is gold.
Looking back at the legacy of Mr. Jobs, he was not the inventor of the computer (computers had been around for a while) but he took an existing technology and transformed it into one that we didn’t realise we needed-the personal computer.
This is an invaluable lesson for Rwanda especially looking at the tech revolution in Kenya where developers are taking advantage of the penetration of cell phones into the country to create applications that foster business and social development; we need to build on this.
Ultimately, that will be the lesson Jobs leaves Rwandan technologists-to be innovative with available technology and proactively work to bring new generation products customised to our needs as a growing economy.
Jobs put it well, “stay hungry, stay foolish”; and indeed, that is the only way progress can be made possible. May he Rest in Eternal Peace.
“One more thing”: I wrote this article on my Macbook4,1.