Interview with Dr. Izzeldin Mohamed Osman

“The Emerging Interactive Multimedia is now used by the Young Elite”

What e-content means in Sudan:

A: E-content is an expression and a reflection of people and life. It would mirror the
culture, life and expression of people. Thus e-content is the living expression of the life in a country with all its images, sounds and recorded heritage.

What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?

The content is mainly verbal, followed by the printed content and then video and multimedia content. With the recent expansion of the telephone network, radio programmes are becoming interactive, accepting participation and intervention. In spite of the current successes in rural and mobile telephony there are still larger areas which are beyond the grasp of electronic communications. The nomadic people with their rich culture are still waiting for some miraculous venture, such as World Space, to be able to exchange and share knowledge, and enjoy the benefits of the Internet expressed in their own languages.

The current e-content is mainly verbal (which are non-interactive) and printed material (which constitute about 80% of e-content). The video and multimedia (which are also non-interactive content) constitute about 20%.

The emerging interactive multimedia is now used by the young elite who constitute much less than 1%. However, it is growing very rapidly.

Which e-content area is best developed in your country?

Sudan is a large country, one million square miles in area. The radio is the most penetrating medium, followed by the TV. Most of the developed content use radio, usually in e-culture and e-government. In the Internet, the most developed category is e-culture (or to be more accurate: e-exchange of news , e-politics and e-verbal communications).

Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?

Civil Society.

Please describe the progress of e-content development in your country.

It is approximately doubling every year.

Please list the major initiatives which have influenced and spurred the development of e-content in your country.

» The relatively rapid expansion of telecommunications mainly through the efforts of Sudatel;

» The relatively rapid expansion of higher education in the country;

» The rapid growth of the number of computer training centres and Internet cafes.

What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?

» The inadequate bandwidth of connections to the Internet;

» The availability of most of the material necessary for creating content on the Internet is in English Language which deprives a large proportion of the real content-creators from expressing themselves directly;

» The scarcity of tools for using verbal content on the internet which become important when illiteracy prevails;

» The cost of procuring and running computer and electronic equipment is beyond the reach of the majority of the population;

» Many people do not have the basic infrastructure such as connectivity and electricity.

In developed countries ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily left to the initiatives of individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in less developed countries, the development of e-content is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. Please give a detailed analysis of the situation in your country.

Most of the content is either verbal or in text format. The development of these does not depend on ICT facilities. However, the e-content which is communicated through the Internet depends on ICT facilities.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe it in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

» The infrastructure has expanded very rapidly. There is a 2000 Kilometer optical fiber backbone traversing the country from east to west, and the growth of teledensity, along with the availability of young people to operate ICTs is increasing;

» The penetration of ICTs doubles annually;

» ICTs are well-accepted. However, it takes a long time for a new ICT system to be fully used and accepted. In the public sector, the time-frame is typically three years;

» There are policies conducive to investment in ICTs. These include zero custom duties on ICTs and attractive investment laws.

The country has a national ICT plan.

How do you see the future of e-content development in your country?

Judging from the evolution it has had in the last three years, characterized by a high rate of extension, I think e-content will occupy a more and more central role in the life of the people. Digital reform started with the administration’s endeavours to provide more transparency through electronic means. Law will ensure that more and more public interest content is made available as e-content.

As an expert in your country, what would be the five most important pillars of e-content development?

» Access to e-media i.e. the availability of the respective media and tools to capture the content through voice, images or multimedia;

» The capacity for proper operation of e-media i.e. the ability to properly operate and utilize e-media and employ modern facilities;

» Content i.e. the availability of the content (source material) and the ability to transform it to suit the nature of e-media;

» Affordability i.e. the cost of the process of development needs to be within the financial capability of the producer;

» The ability to reach target users i.e. the population of consumers’ should have the means to ‘play’ e-media at the proper level so as to bring out the entire content (voice, images or multimedia) at an affordable cost.

Please explain which is the most preferred medium for e-content development: Print, TV, the Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless or a combination of some of these?

It really depends on the target population and the nature of the content.

However, in general, for rural areas and the vast majority of population, the Radio is the best medium, followed by the TV, the mobile, the print media and then the Internet.

For the Sudanese population abroad, it would be TV and the Internet.

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