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Facebook outage prompts SA to promote local developers

‘South Africa needs to support young people and citizens to develop social media platforms that we use,’ said the minister,
Image: Shutterstock

South Africa’s new communications minister said this week’s outage of Facebook apps and services is a reminder the government can do more to support the development of local social-media platforms.

The creation of Naspers-backed messenger service Mxit was evidence local companies can produce successful technology with the right backing, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said in a Q&A with reporters on Tuesday. Mxit had 7.4 million monthly active subscribers in 2013, according to consultancy World Wide Worx, but collapsed two years later under competition from the likes of Facebook’s WhatsApp.

“South Africa needs to support young people and citizens to develop social media platforms that we use,” said the minister, who was transferred in August from the department of small business development. “We cannot be dependent on the West for our technological environment, we must drive this ourselves as a country.”

South African ministers are known to use WhatsApp to communicate with one another.

Facebook services including WhatsApp and Instagram were down for about six hours on Monday, shutting out many of its 2.7 billion global users. The incident has led to worldwide introspection about the extent businesses and individuals rely on the $1 trillion company, — alongside fresh criticism that it has too much power.

Signal and Telegram, two private messenger apps, both saw downloads and user sign-ups soar during the shutdown. Snapchat was another beneficiary, with usage surging by 20%.

South Africa is working with state-owned IT firm Sita about how government can support local social-network initiatives, Ntshavheni said. The Department of Science and Innovation is another institution that could help out, she said.

 

© 2021 Bloomberg

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Here we go again…. a little irrelevant dump of a country with the lowest maths marks and highest youth unemployment will enter the tech space with solutions!

The poor minister is delusional-this isn’t South Korea, Switzerland or California…

Yes the government influence means nothing except being a big burden on dying tax payer. We get further if they stay away.

Where did Mark Shuttleworth (Starter of the Youtube idea) and Ellon Musk (Tesla, Space-x) come from? hmmm …

South Africa does have very smart and unique people brought about by the spirit of survival and goodwill.

I agree with your points about local talent and solutions for complex problems, like for instance open heart surgery. But social media is a cancer of modern life that causes depression in the case of its users and a captive audience for marketing products to consumers. We honestly could use less social media in our lives, we do not need a homegrown version of it. Far more useful projects to embark on would be to implement transparent online platforms for civilians to view tender processes for government contracts, an updated system for the deeds office to speed up transactions, a centralised system to monitor the expenditure by local, provincial and national government, and many other useful projects where our time will be better spent.

Also it is a bit incorrect to mention WhatsApp in the article the way that it was, because WhatsApp did not belong to Facebook at that time.

@Speculator – Mark Shuttleworth actually was the pioneer of the Internet Authentication Certificates. Thawte Consulting developed the site to site security and authentication certificates to ensure the sites were secured and legitimate. Verizon bought him out for $500m.

Fix ESKOM in the meantime!!

Then get the youth busy to compete with Facebook. Will keep them out of trouble.

End of comments.

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