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Libya and Information Technology

Undoubtedly, we live in an age where information is highly valued. Companies spend billions of dollars to manage information and integrate it with every facet of their business to provide better products and services and improve the bottom line. There is a worldwide industry that deals with the management and deployment of information. This industry is referred to as Information Technology or IT for short. The industrialized world has recognized the value and power of IT in securing its prosperity and economic vitality. Some of these governments have allocated enormous sums of moneys to build infrastructures to support the reliable transfer and efficient management of information. For example, the US has spent billions of dollars to establish a robust and fast Internet structure to support electronic commerce. The recent vBNS project (or Internet II) is an example of such structure that is available to research labs and universities throughout the country. Currently, vBNS is an OC-12 SONET technology that operates at 622 Mbit/second and plans are underway to support 2.4 Gigabit/second (OC-48). It will be used to move text, audio, and video in real-time to support applications that were unimaginable in the past. Examples of these applications are virtual reality, video conferencing, and virtual medical applications.

To a lesser extent, many developing countries have recognized the value and power of IT in advancing the economic fortunes and improving the overall efficiency of communications. In fact, many of them have appropriated large sums of moneys for IT and began to build a basic infrastructure to support the reliable and speedy transfer of information. These governments have even helped establish many businesses to develop applications, conduct training, and provide basic product and services. In many cases, the results appear to spur economic rejuvenation and enhance the ability to better serve the national interests. More importantly, the populations of these countries feel that they are part of something that is exciting, progressive, and challenging. Something that enables them to exhibit creativity and freedom. A technological tool that allows them to have unfettered access to all sorts of information with a simple click of a button and without having permission from anyone. The amount of wealth that has been and is being created by IT and the Internet is staggering. Not even the industrial revolution of the last century has created so much wealth so quickly that spans all classes of a society. In my opinion, IT technology represents an information paradigm shift from governments and large organizations to individuals. It gives the individual the ability to create new opportunities, to be creative, independent, and free. Individuals can have their own piece of the cyberspace in which they can exhibit their background, views, heritage, interests, achievements, start their business, etc.

Therefore, Information Technology creates an environment in which access to information that spans a wide range of subject area and a variety of viewpoints are easily accessible. Sadly, Libya has been conspicuously absent from the scene and has not capitalized on the enormous business opportunities that can be gained by the deployment of a country-wide Intranet infrastructure to benefit its citizens. I suspect that the Libyan government is still straggling with the idea of giving freedom to its citizens and giving them unfettered access to information. True, there are many web sites that promote government view and many opposing views. However, there does not appear to be a strategy of IT deployment within the Libyan society. In fact, Libya is one of a handful of countries in the entire world that has no public Internet infrastructure, not even all components of its Domain Name (.ly) has been claimed. In a recent study by the Reporters sans frontieres, Libya has been declared as one of twenty countries that are enemies of the Internet. The only other country that has not claimed its entire DNS is Afghanistan!!

The government must realize that the time to control, oppress and deny Libyans of basic freedoms is gone. It must open up to the information age and develop long-rage strategic plans for the deployment of a country-wide Intranet that would enable the Libyan people to benefit from the enormous wealth that is being created world-wide by the IT revolution.

The Tech Wiz

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