This whole week I have been blogging the conference, indeed gaining enormous experience as a researcher and Internet Marketer. Speakers from Germany, Namibia , Belgium, Singapore, Chana, South Africa and other parts of the world delivered ground breaking researched presentations.Internet in South Africa is growing at a slow pace but progress have been made since the last ten years. On-line marketers , researchers and consumers likewise have all been afforded with an unprecedented interactive tool; the Internet. However, most of the participants at the iWeek 2006 at The Castle Kyalami agree that both government and Internet Services Providers (ISPs) should play a greater role, but what remain contested is how such a role should be conducted and implemented.

The argument is that, ISPs will strive towards making more money (self interest), while increasing the inequality of access to the ICTs. On the other hand the government want to play a greater role in order to redistribute wealth and ensure that information is well accessed in rural areas; the irony is that the opposite seem to be true, Telkom under the auspices of government has one of the highest cost ever to the technologies. Partnerships and consultations in policy making is crucial. Indeed ISPs begin to play a more social role and in partnership with governments at certain levels. It is a common cause that Internet should be made much more cheaper but not free as Roy Padayachie, Deputy Minister of Communications claimed.

Telkom is monopolising the industry far too much and it is time to seek ‘choice’. Whether Free or Open Source software, or as the case in Singapore for social software people demand access. There is of course, a greater need to unbundle the local loop and as well as on the other hand providing consumers with a choice is fundamental. Indeed , digital divide in South Africa is growing, according the world statistics, South Africa has only 15.8 percent of the total users in Africa, while Nigeria is 7.8 percent. Both countries remain the highest in Africa, this on its own is a “big digital divide”.

On Marketing I always find these lines the basic for everyone willing to use Internet for marketing, true it is that “in a converged telecommunication and media environment, the focus will move toward content and applications and this will require new marketing strategies. The market is now moving from supply driven (telco) to demand driven (consumer) and those with the best marketing and customer services will win; technologies are rapidly becoming commodities. Convergence is inevitably leading to a structural separation between infrastructure and media players.” How one covert this depend on each industry’s status quo and the level of innovations. Internet is a marketing tool for modern industries. You cannot separate Internet and marketing.

I look forward for the next iWeek conference. Checkout Arthur Goldstuck’s Mobility 2006 conference on Thursday 14 September 2006.