An interesting twist on the way thinking on security is changing....

Security Brings Technology to Africa

And when Uncle Sam commits to a project, contracts for U.S. technology firms are not far beyond.

One of the first is a $300,000 deal with Sentek Consulting of San Diego to work with African governments on building an information-sharing system to connect far-flung nations.

In a Wi-Fi world, hooking up African military units and civilian agencies via a computer network might seem easy. But there are multiple hurdles, from the technological and political to the linguistic.

Telephone communication in much of Africa is antiquated or nonexistent, and cellular towers are only now being erected outside many major cities. Communication satellites tend to focus on the Northern Hemisphere, leaving southern Africa with less coverage.......

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Henri Boshoff, military analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, a research group in Pretoria, South Africa, has seen information sharing improve recently, including the creation of an "early-warning" center at African Union headquarters in Ethiopia. "It's not perfect, but it's better than it ever was," Boshoff said.

The Sentek effort aims to build on that success. Starting today, a group of eight Sentek employees, working with the militaries in Niger, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Ghana, plans a basic, four-day test of a new information-sharing system using the Internet and the GoogleEarth mapping service to link the four locations.

Mock intelligence about military, humanitarian and natural disaster situations will be exchanged via computer with the help of commercial English-French translation software. Part of the plan is to transmit real-time information from satellites to the four nations.