The Decentralisation of Technology


It’s rather easy to think nowadays, sat in our offices and living rooms, that the technology we use on a day to day basis is produced primarily in the West by Western companies; these producers have huge resources, a large, educated workforce to draw manpower from, and access to an infrastructure beneficial to technologically advanced products. For decades, however, many of our most-loved pieces of technology have been produced in the Far East in nations such as Japan and South Korea, though even this conception of the worldwide technology market is now underdeveloped, new players moving in from all sides.

Take South Africa, for example. Right now, a joint venture between two South African telecommunications companies, Seemahale Telecoms and CZ Electronics, who up until recently produced tech for France’s Alcatel Lucent, is being undertaken with the aim to produce Africa’s first home-grown smartphone. The companies are producing two models, 4” and a 5” handsets, that will feature wi-fi, 2G, 3G, a 5 megapixel camera, flash memory and a dual core processor. The phones are set to be priced at extremely aggressive rates, poised to become incredibly popular within Africa’s nascent smartphone market.

This could naturally be a boon for the people of the continent. As well as being able to enjoy the things that we in the developed world take for granted such as being able to play games on the go, enjoying a little excitement whilst out and about, the possibilities in terms of business, commerce, and particularly the internet-based aspects of these two aspects, will be huge and likely very beneficial.

It’s not just South Africa that is leading the way in terms of tech however. Right now in India, developers are currently engaged in the development of the world’s first smartphone for the blind. The device will be able to translate emails and text messages into braille, improving the lives of millions across the world. In Brazil, locally produced technologies and knowhow are helping along the nation’s booming ethanol-based biofuels market.

A discussion into technological markets in the developing world would be nothing without looking at the world’s next superpower, China, however. The nation has recently resolved itself to triple the number of patents- the vast majority of these being tech and gadget focused- by 2020, and the nation already overtook the United States in the number of patents filed in 2013. In 1996, China was fourteenth in the world for the number of academic studies published, in 2011, it was second. All of these have had the aim of solidifying China as a place for the design of technology, not just the cheap production of it. Will the twenty first century signal the end of Western dominance in the field of advanced technology? Very likely.