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Inside the Afghan tech boom

Associated Press

Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, is never with out his iPhone. 'It's easy and modern and I love it' ...Read the full article

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  1. varun xm from toronto, Canada writes: Well, I suppose we are all looking for some signs of hope from Afghanistan,... I hasten to add this is better than more news of death and destruction,... but I'd feel much better hearing about infant mortality numbers and graduation rates. again, the iphone is some sop to attract eyeballs, but it is really good that mobile communications are catching on are are accessible to the masses.

    rainbow warrior. i didnt get the reference to the suicide mission. is this some reference that isnt clear from the news article?
  2. Geoff Wilson from Kandor, Krypton, Canada writes: How can these guys an iPhone in Afghanistan when in Canada we're slave to the Rogers monopoly? We do not even have 3G coverage in most Canadian places. I think there's something wrong here.
  3. Not Withstanding from Canada writes: Geoff Wilson - they're starting from scratch in Afghanistan....so there's no entrenched interests like Rogers standing in the way of building a 3G infrastructure from the group up.

    There was nothing there before, and to build a cell phone network from Square 1 it costs no more to make it a 3G network, since there's no money sunk in the legacy technology.

    What's amazing is that anyone still claims that we are 'not making a difference' in Afghanistan.

    Forget iPhones, 3G and Play Stations....the real indicator is the number of people who have basic cell phones, which is a proven way to lift people in developing countries out of poverty (tough to find a job or sell your grain if you can't communicate with anyone).

    The Taliban isn't winning there when 8 million people have cell phones.
  4. Anvil Rob from Prince George, Canada writes: Literacy and information technology can only add to the gradual and (hopefully) eventual relative peace in the area. Xenophobia is less likely if people can see, communicate and interact with those who may be different, yet still make that human connection. 'Perspective' means nothing when only one side of an issue is heard, and maybe someday the raging Neo-cons/left-wing loonies of Afganistan can settle their differences without bombs and bullets. They will flame and insult each other on comment boards like the rest of us. :)
  5. Bobby Boy from Canada writes: @ Geoff Wilson,
    ...because we have the CRTC, and a bunch of socialist bureaucrats who think monopolies and the protection of Canadian 'content' are in the best interests of Canadians. How wrong they are.
  6. Broad Vacant from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada writes: The picture of life in Afghanistan in this column is fascinatingly different than we see in mainstream coverage. Others have complained in this forum that articles in the Tech section are often tantamount to advertisements. This one isn't brand specific (though the iPhone stands out), but it certainly has a 'life goes better with Coke' air about it: see? see all those happy consumers? Afghanistan IS progressing. Even the head of NATO gets to do a celebrity endorsement. Let's all just smile for the camera and enjoy a good chat.
  7. B A from Ottawa, Canada writes: Broad Vacant from St. Catharines, exactly. And given how many IEDs are detonated using cellphones to say that the insurgents aren't embracing technology is absolute nonsense. Also, given the 'industry' base of Afghanistan, these phones were either paid for by 'aid money' (why feed Canadians when you can feed people half a world away who don't actually like you) or by drug money. Either way it's gotta sting to the Canadian tax payer (our tax dollar going to their cellphones before our own kids). Still, it kinda makes you wonder, does the iphone have a detonate function? Kinda gives new meaning to the term 'killer app.'
  8. Akbar M from Regina, Canada writes: For a second I thought there was some kind of manufacturing going on in Afghanistan but I was disappointed to see that it's just consumer products they were talking about. This is a lot less interesting than what I thought it meant.
  9. Peter Kells from Bytown, Canada writes: This is great. Afghans are now joining the consumer society and learning the American way of God, Truth and Right. Hopefully soon there will be a MacDonald's, a Starbucks and a Walmart on every street corner. I can't wait until they build Afghan Disney. Ah....dreams of Empire.
  10. web warlock from Canada writes: hm. I wonder if we could have accomplished what we needed (the toppling of the Taliban, access to education) simply by parachuting in millions of free cellphones and computers and setting up free wireless networks to give free internet access. Wouldn't it be nice if just once a war could be won without a shot being fired?
  11. Western Girl from Canada writes:
    I thought this was an article from The Onion for a minute...
  12. varun xm from toronto, Canada writes: Akbar and Peter - my initial reaction was the same. Why applaud consumerism, but upon reflection I can see the immense step forward. I will explain.
    Needless to say, laying landlines is fraught with danger in a war zone. Putting up wireless towers is way more feasible. Also, the fact is that, in any communications business, the top 15-20% of the customers end up subsidizing the costs for the bottom 15-20%. So, all the users of the high-end functionalities, with their bandwidth utilization, end up helping out the guy who can at best afford the Nokia 1202 [about $25 a handset]. That helps the regular Jehangir do business... which is a good thing. Commercial stability will drive peace.
    That being said, I would feel much better if NATO published a scorecard capturing metrics on healthcare, education, civilian safety, judicial process, commerce - rather than share fluff such as this. Thinking out aloud, these could be infant mortality rate, polio vaccine administration rates, MMR immunization rates, gender based enrollment, % of students going into high school, etc. I could go on, but not the place here.
    I do think though that Statistics Canada could have a unique role to play here in conducting the surveys and collecting the data. That would be totally awesome. Otherwise, without these measurements, it is hard to quantify progress or the lack thereof.
  13. John Smith from Toronto, Canada writes: Wonder how many women there are allowed to possess iPhones? or any phones for that matter.
  14. John Smith from Toronto, Canada writes: There's a certain foreign intelligence agency which is adept at eliminating its targets by blowing up their targets' cell phones (while the targets are using them). I wonder if they've passed on their expertise to certain other intelligence agencies. I guess we'll find out over the next little while.
  15. gender bender from Espanola, Canada writes: Does he turn it off when he prays 5 times a day and why hasn't his society come up with anything beyond the 7 century?
  16. Akbar M from Canada writes: varun xm Well I don't have a problem with consumer products per se I was just whining about the misleading headline. Misleading to me, anyway.

    I must agree that wireless, as in most 'developing' countries, is a lot more feasible than land lines. I'm not sure it's necessarily indicative of much progress except that foreign made consumer products are available now.
  17. Richard Provencher from Truro, NS, Canada writes: This article points out how much we are hoodwinked by our own press, and their negative comments not only against the progress in Afghanistan but the nasty comments against our PM. Our press corps are no different than Al-Jazeera who report only what they want their constituents to hear. A news balance is not what we get, rather the pitiful distortions of the real world. Our press corps focuses on the wounds of society, not the engaging stories to uplift and encourage us. No wonder so many, like myself, a senior citizen turn away from newspapers and read the internet news, and not just one point of view but many on the subjects of the day.
  18. Terry Mahoney from Victoria, Canada writes: Amazing! Perhaps this 'technology' is one way to bring a knowledge of 'the rest of the world' to Afghans, and let them see that although our Western civilization isn't perfect, somehow we've managed a lot of material and social progress; progress that has been (and still is) a struggle (but a peaceful one) between political ideals and philosophies. Our Prime minister has admitted that 'we can't beat the Taliban'! and he's correct. 'The Taliban' is a state of mind. It will always have new recruits, as long as there are poor and disenfranchised individuals who see it as a way out of their misery or as a tool for vengeance. Maybe, just maybe, the technology can be used as a helpful tool - to enable them to build a better, self-governed, prosperous and peaceful future.

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