When I heard that the theme for the 2012 SONA is “The Knowledge Economy and Development Opportunities“, I was naturally excited by the first part thereof. I started dreaming that South Africa’s first citizen, President Jacob Zuma (a.k.a. JZ), was going to make major pronouncements – such as government’s intervention to ensure reduction of the current exorbitant bandwidth costs; substantial investment in infrastructure for the achievement of highest bandwidth speeds in the world; rapid rolling out of free wi-fi services in all cities and major towns; removal of VAT on smartphones to encourage cheaper prices and thus ensure higher penetration; slashing of company tax by half for all companies involved in the development of Internet-based solutions that directly solve this country’s challenges in the health and eduction sectors; building of comprehensive ICT-only higher education institutions that will be free to top-performing and deserving Matriculants; opening of appropriate government-held databases for data mining and analytics; etc. While I suspected that this would be far-fetched, I still thought there will be some good news about knowledge economy-related develope-ments.
Jimmy Manyi added to my anticipation when he mentioned on one of the morning radio shows on the 9th of February that the President is urging the public to give feedback on the government’s official social network pages as well. Manyi further mentioned that JZ has been closely monitoring posts and tweets on his iPad and engaging with the social netizens accordingly. This interview put the social cyber space on steroids, given that the President has, to date, been treating social networks as what I call digital billboarding, my definition of which is giving irregular statuses on government activities but hardly responding to any questions, queries or comments from fans and followers.
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Suffice to say I was highly disappointed when the moment of truth arrived at 19H00 (South African time) on the 9th of February 2012, when JZ took the podium. Alas, there was zilch mention of the theme in his speech! Nor was there any mention of future focus on the establishment of a firm foundation for growth of the currently small crop of technology-crazy youth who will propel this country to the next level. As
As for Manyi’s radio statement that JZ is engaging on social networks, look at the quick analysis below and be the judge.
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