News reports indicate that Japan will start research and development on technology for a new generation of the network that would replace the current Internet. This technology is expected to be released for commercial use in 2020. Speaking to reporters in Brazil, where he is visiting, the Japanese communications minister Yoshihide Suga said

an organization will be set up as early as this fall with cooperation from businesses, academia and government offices for promoting the technology when the Internet is seen to be faced with increasing constraints in achieving higher throughputs of data as well as ensuring data security.

The envisaged network is expected to ensure faster and more reliable data transmission, and have more resilience against computer virus attacks and breakdowns. The ministry is hoping Japan will take a lead in development of post-Internet technology and setting global standards, a move that ministry officials believe would help make Japanese companies competitive in the global market for hardware and software using such technology.

Some tech commentators are of the view that this is a duplication of the US led Internet2 project. I beg to differ with this way of thinking. The Internet2 project has been around for more than ten years. The Japanese might have seen its shortcomings (remember that they are very smart) hence their interest in coming up with their own initiative. After all, this is just research. Let the Japanese and all other capable nations do their own research on this issue. If their interests coincide with the Internet2 project, they are free to collaborate with the US guys.

Many Africans, including me, have a strong liking for Japanese technology. If you come to Malawi today, you will find Japanese cars (Toyota, Mitsubishi, Isuzu etc) and motorcycles (Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki etc) of all types. Actually, as I was growing up, my paternal grandfather used to own a Honda motorcycle. In light of this, I am of the view that a Japanese spearheaded Internet revolution will spread to the rest of the developing world more easily. As a result, all this talk about the digital divide will be history. What do you think?

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