As Becky and I look towards our possible future in Africa one of the interesting things is the availability of internet access. This sort of access not only gives cross-cultural workers like us access to “home” but also gives indigenous language speakers access to each other and to outside ideas.
Increased internet access puts added importance on how companies (like SIL International) present themselves online. An ever increasing percentage of the people they hope to have a relationship with and to influence are able to interact with services presented online.
So, if we look at telecommunication speeds from when Becky was last in Nigeria in 2007, and today. We can use some maps to show use the connectivity and then relate that back to norms in the United States.
For more of a inland view inside of Nigeria, we can look at this map from 2011. In terms of landmass, Nigeria is about 30% larger than the State of Texas, but Nigeria’s population is about one half of the entire United States.
In comparison we might look at the United States’ Fiber network.
This PDF shows how the underwater cables are connected to countries at various points.
For a really cool look at global underwater telecommunications networks look at the maps at cablemap.info.
Standford University has a country by country breakdown and a breakdown by network. As language development professionals we might ask: Why do we care about the network speed in Africa? Well, it is because connecting Africa, brings the world to Africa and Africa to the world. The US has had some remarkable cultural developments since 2000. Things like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Youtube have changed the way we interact with each-other. This speaks to the perceptions and mechanics of how relationships are exercised. This also speaks to how connected the world is in terms of global events and thought. Of course this also has implications on global culture and religion. The ease of communications with certain countries also speaks to social influences.
Trade and communications networks are one way to measure, at a macro scale, the influences on a region.