Zimbabwe and regional technology news and updates


Think internet DIY projects are difficult? Here’s what kids in Harare are picking up from the web

YouTube Speakers

That’s a picture of Jared Bunga, a 12-year-old boy in Harare. In his hands is a set of homemade DIY speakers that he fashioned from inexpensive material lying around the house. He didn’t sit through any home economics class or sign up for one online to learn how to do this though. The source of inspiration was a YouTube video that offered a set of simple DIY instructions.

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Sure it’s easy to dismiss this set of speakers as something that won’t be disrupting the sound market, I doubt that’s the motivation for a child like Jared who’s in primary school. He just enjoys putting into practice stuff he’s learned from YouTube. It’s the true representation of the power of the internet and the opportunity it represents for anyone who wants to use it constructively.

There’s so much that an open, unlimited inventory of data, information knowledge and skills has brought to everyone’s disposal. All it takes is someone looking for what they need and taking enough time to figure out how to use the best of this information that they get.

That’s how the concept of  (Do It Yourself) DIY projects has been accelerated by the internet. There are no complicated workarounds involved, subscriptions or some added expenses that you have to cover, besides your internet connection of course. You can find everything from instructions on how to make a solar system, setting up a push cart market stall (we are, after all, a vendor-driven society, right?) or even something as ambitious as a food cart.

If you are looking at picking up a new skill, or getting the basics of a trade that you want to go for because you haven’t been able to get a job in our twisted economy, the internet has content that you can set you down the right path. It’s the same spirit that we’ve seen lately in guys like Zimbabwe’s animators who have managed to hone their skills and have gone on to export them.

All this information and knowledge is not even restricted to YouTube. That’s the beauty of the internet ‘s knowledge bank. It’s not centred on one source. There is no single platform or site that earns the right to be more important and relevant than the next.

This convention is what argues for net neutrality, and how the providers of internet services shouldn’t make other parts of it harder or more expensive to access. We shouldn’t need to badger mobile operators for YouTube video bundles or cheaper Facebook and WhatsApp promos. The whole internet should just be made cheaper.

I wouldn’t expect everyone to get their child or younger sibling to start making speakers after learning about what Jared is doing. There are, after all, so many other things that you can just as well encourage them to try out. It’s also worth keeping in mind that this forms a firm foundation for problem-solving.

It doesn’t hurt for us to take advantage of the internet and, more importantly, to teach the next generation how to harness the power of the web for constructive learning. The digital age doesn’t have time to wait for the Ministry of Education to make it part of the syllabus. Just ask Elon Musk, or remember Jared’s speakers.

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