Long term frustrations finally broke out into full scale riots on Zanzibar.  The use of life bullets and tear gas has been noted on twitter today.  The riots come in response to the arrest of an opposition leader on Saturday.  In the past days, the number of   military forces and police in the streets of  Mji Mkongwe (Stone Town) increased.  Thus, the government anticipated the unrest.

The majority of protesters are reported as UAMSHO followers.  Mussa Juma, an imam and a UAMSHO leader was arrested by authorities from the mainland.  UAMSHO (Kiswahili for revival) is an Islamic association advocating the separation of Zanzibar from the mainland of Tanganyika. In addition to resenting the union, some Islamist rally for the implementation of the Islamic law (Sharia),  others have openly rallied against western influences.

There are a plethora of political and social reasons for the unrest. A government commission is currently traveling throughout Zanzibar engaging  with the local populace on unity issues. Nevertheless, the much resented union is only one reason for discontent.  Government corruption, stalled democratic processes and lack of transparency all create animosity towards both Zanzibar´s and the Union´s government. 

The Zanzibaris do have legitimate grievances against the government, and it is unfortunate that hardliners use the discontent to create violent unrests.  For more information on the complex issues underlying the current unrest, read earlier
Blog entries.

The optical fiber network connecting Africa is steadily growing.  Africans are going online in record numbers.  The Internet boom in Africa will have social and security implications which urgently require consideration by national, international and non-governmental institutions. Long-term secondary effects require mitigation. It is high time for aid organizations to realized that many African nations need programs that address "Digital Africa."

In early 2012, a project to finalize an optical fiber cable network on Zanzibar is about completed.  Once optical fiber-laying is done, the Internet will be available to the general public at reduced costs.  The fiber connection on Zanzibar is part of the Eastern African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) initiative.  The EASSy project aims to establish an undersea optical fiber cable network of some 9,900 km in length.  Thereby, the network would link the entire East African seaboard.  So far, this region lagged behind in terrestrial connectivity.  The network starts in Durban, SA, and is to branch into Mozambique, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, and terminate in Port Sudan, possibly even branching into Somalia.  Zanzibar as a node on the EASSy project will benefit from more accessible Internet services.

For Zanzibar´s population wide-ranging access to the Internet will be an advantage, but there are disadvantages.  As a wide area network the Internet has tentacles that reach out across the world.  Zanzibar´s development will likely be considerably spurred.  The resulting speedy dissemination of communication will extend to government services, (e-government) and the business and intellectual community. Zanzibar will connect with the rest of the world.  However, some of Zanzibar´s citizens will have better access to the Internet while others will not. Computers are expensive and the Internet may not be available / affordable in remote areas.  Districts without availability of electricity are unlikely able to fully utilize the Internet. In addition, Zanzibar has a high illiteracy rate.  People, who can’t read or write, are excluded from using the Internet.  The resulting widening educational,-socio-economic gap is called the “digital divide.”   This “digital divide” will increase the gap between the have and have not´s on the islands as it did in many other African countries.

Internet security is another road-block which requires consideration in terms of African development and global cyber security.  Internet services coming from Zanzibar and Africa in general, will only be truly successful if they can be trusted. Many Zanzibaris are not computer literate or barely computer literate.  The general population is unaware of the  inherent dangers of the Internet, because they so far had little online experience. Thus, the threat a virus can posed is not really understood.  This lack of understanding may lead to online businesses as well as customers not realizing the need for stringent security.  In turn, a domino effect is likely to set in, spreading viruses like a wild-fire.

Franz-Stefan Gandy wrote in Foreign Policy that in Africa “cyber crime is growing at a faster rate than on any other continent.” He cites that some 80 percent of computers on the continent are infected with some kind of malicious malware.
[1]  From my own experience I can say that most Africans do not use anti-virus software.  My attempts to provide co-workers with free copies of reliable anti-virus programs faltered on the fact that they did not use original software. Thus, I have come to the same conclusion Gandy did, that the threat of massive sized botnets (hijacked computers controlled by a master computer) originating from Africa is real.  Hackers can utilize botnets to “attack” the computer systems of other nations.  Just imagine what would happen if your e-bank, e-government, e-utility system, and cellular phone stops working.   The Internet is a global network, thus this threat is not just an African issues it is an international issue.

Aid organizations either national, international, governmental or non-governmental  need to realize that in the 21st Century, Africa´s  development needs have moved “from providing mosquito netting”  into the digital realm.  Yes, mosquito netting is still very much needed, but aid which directly counters the digital divide and promotes safe and sound Internet usage is needed too.  African´s can benefit from our experience and knowledge in preventing cyber-crime and its global secondary consequences. What Africa needs now, is sensible public information campaigns to provide every Internet user with at least basic information about the inherent “dangers” of going online.  International aid organizations which set up micro-businesses should include basic training in computer usage and security when applicable.  Institutions and organizations may want to now ponder devising programs that foster anti-virus, malware, and adware scanning as well as removal.  Otherwise many unaware African computer owners may punch out the lights in places the happy go lucky Zanzibari surfer has never even heard off.   

The PINGer project at Stanford University monitors the African network and provides excellent background and maps of ongoing developments. Steve Song on his blog endless possibilities also provides an updated map of the African submarine cable system.

[1] Franz-Stefan Gandy, Foreign Policy: Africa´s Cyber WMD: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/24/africas_cyber_wmd  as accessed on 07 May 2012.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection
Act passed by Congress and signed into law on July 21, 2010.

Conflict Minerals, Mine Operators, and Resource Extracting
Companies 15 U.S.C. � 78m (Amendments) Sections 1502 through 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act address a variety of issues involving mining and natural resources.  These sections require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to promulgate rules for publicly listed companies that deal in these industries:

Section 1502 requires new disclosure rules and due diligence requirements for public companies that deal in �conflict minerals� originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo or adjoining countries as a necessity to the functionality or production of a product manufactured by those
companies. The term "conflict minerals" for purposes of Section 1502 includes gold, wolframite, columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, or any other mineral determined by the Secretary of State to be financing conflict in the Congo or an adjoining country. Section 1503 requires mining companies to
disclose information in their mine safety information in their periodic filings, including violations of Mine Safety and Health Administration rules and dollar amount assessed for violations. Section 1504 requires resource extraction companies to include in their annual report a disclosure relating to any payment made by that company to a foreign government or the U.S. government for the purpose of the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals.

You can find out all about the bill on this website: