South Africa – The dark horse of the Internet

With the World Cup coming up in 2010 South Africa has been getting quite a lot of press. Some people see South Africa as being behind the rest of the world in terms of infrastructure, technology, business etc. In some ways this is true, you only need to look at their roads to see there is much room for improvement. However, when it comes to business, in particular online business, my word does the rest of the world need to stand up and take note.

South Africa seems to have embraced the Internet culture and used it to great effect. You only need to follow South Africans on Twitter to see how excited people are about being a part of it all. There are constantly meet-ups (tweet-ups, as they are called) and dinner parties arranged for people who have formed a community from knowing each other online. This happens in other parts of the world too, but I am in the UK and I have not seen half as many over here.

If I look at products I use every day I find a lot are made in South Africa. I send SMS via the internet using BulkSMS… made in South Africa. My SearchStatus Firefox plugin which I have been using for years comes from Quirk eMarketing, a South African firm. There are a growing number of successful Internet sites that you may not know that come from South Africa. South Africa online presence seems to be growing faster than I can ever remember it doing so in the UK.

Almost every week people are tweeting that they are in seminars about media, marketing, the Internet in general. The shear number of these events just shown how positive they are about progress. South Africa has a TEDx function coming up. TEDx is a kind of miniature TED conference where very clever people speak about their specialised subject. These things are great and I really wish I could attend this one!

I have been following the changes online for a while now and all I can say is the enthusiasm is infectious! They have their own social network called Afrigator too. To look at it really is a polished production, but more than that if you look at 95% of all African blogs they have the Afrigator link stating “I am an African Blogger”. This is the crux of it to my mind, these people are PROUD to be a part of it all and they are excited for the future.

I can’t help feeling that certainly in the UK people feel the Internet has come as far as it can and has leveled out a bit. The excitement has died down and people have found other things to be enthusiastic about. If you can relate to that I implore you to start to follow a few South Africans on Twitter and see what they are up to. The enthusiasm displayed is something I just can’t help wanting to be involved with, and something that the UK for one could really learn from!

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