Surf Africa

Africa lit a shiny new fiber-optic undersea cable almost two years ago—so why are so few Africans using it?

19 min read
Photo showing Table Mountain rising up in the middle of Cape Town, South Africa.
Southwest by West: Table Mountain rises up in the middle of Cape Town, South Africa (left). The owner of this cybercafe in Owerri, Nigeria, sells slow Internet access via satellite instead of broadband access through an undersea fiber-optic cable (right).
Photo: Harry Goldstein

Johnson I. Ejimanya is a one-man pony express. Walking the exhaust-fogged streets of Owerri, Nigeria, Ejimanya, the engineering dean of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, carries with him a department’s worth of communications, some handwritten, others on disk. He’s delivering them to a man with a PC and an Internet connection, who converts the missives into e-mails and downloads the responses. To Ejimanya, broadband means lugging a big bundle of printed e-mails back with him to the university, which despite being one of the country’s largest and most prestigious engineering schools has no reliable means of connecting to the Internet.

Owerri is a sprawling town hacked out of the jungle in the heart of the oil-rich Niger Delta region formerly known as Biafra. What galls Ejimanya and his colleagues is that Owerri is barely 50 kilometers from the oil city of Port Harcourt and Nigeria’s recently inaugurated 5-Gb/s undersea fiber-optic connection to the outside world. Since the cable landed in the commercial capital of Lagos in December 2001, virtually nothing has been done to hook up the many businesses, schools, and other entities that could benefit from it. And so for Ejimanya and millions of other Nigerians, the high-speed, always-on Internet enjoyed by people in developed countries remains a distant dream.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

"SuperGPS" Accurate to 10 Centimeters or Better

New optical-wireless hybrid makes use of existing telecommunications infrastructure

3 min read
illustration of man looking at giant smart phone with map and red "you are here" symbol
iStock

Modern life now often depends on GPS(short for Global Positioning System), but it can err on the order of meters in cities. Now a new study from a team of Dutch researchers reveals a terrestrial positioning system based on existing telecommunications networks can deliver geolocation info accurate to within 10 centimeters in metropolitan areas.

The scientists detailed their findings 16 November in the journal Nature.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
Close-up of a colorful semiconductor wafer held the white gloved hands of a clean room technician.

A 300-millimeter wafer from a GlobalFoundries fab in Dresden is full of advanced transistors. The industry will need to continue to produce more and better devices, argues the author.

Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg/Getty Images

This is a guest post in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor. It is adapted from an essay in the July 2022 IEEE Electron Device Society Newsletter. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE.

On the 75th anniversary of the invention of the transistor, a device to which I have devoted my entire career, I’d like to answer two questions: Does the world need better transistors? And if so, what will they be like?

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}

Learn How Global Configuration Management and IBM CLM Work Together

In this presentation we will build the case for component-based requirements management

2 min read

This is a sponsored article brought to you by 321 Gang.

To fully support Requirements Management (RM) best practices, a tool needs to support traceability, versioning, reuse, and Product Line Engineering (PLE). This is especially true when designing large complex systems or systems that follow standards and regulations. Most modern requirement tools do a decent job of capturing requirements and related metadata. Some tools also support rudimentary mechanisms for baselining and traceability capabilities (“linking” requirements). The earlier versions of IBM DOORS Next supported a rich configurable traceability and even a rudimentary form of reuse. DOORS Next became a complete solution for managing requirements a few years ago when IBM invented and implemented Global Configuration Management (GCM) as part of its Engineering Lifecycle Management (ELM, formerly known as Collaborative Lifecycle Management or simply CLM) suite of integrated tools. On the surface, it seems that GCM just provides versioning capability, but it is so much more than that. GCM arms product/system development organizations with support for advanced requirement reuse, traceability that supports versioning, release management and variant management. It is also possible to manage collections of related Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and Systems Engineering artifacts in a single configuration.

Keep Reading ↓Show less