Leapfrogging: when a society takes a technological leap by skipping stages

Leapfrogging: when a society takes a technological leap by skipping stages

In China they have hardly used credit cards : they have gone from cash to mobile phone payment through QR codes.

Perhaps this is one of the most recent cases of leapfrogging , which describes when a society progresses technologically but not linearly, but abruptly, skipping natural stages. In Africa there is another surprising case with ebooks .

African ebooks

Although it sounds counterintuitive, rapid progress does not take place in the more developed regions, but in the less developed ones. This happens because in the more developed countries and regions, citizens are tied to a certain way of thinking or doing things, so it is more difficult for them to let go of the past.

But as Michael Hannan explores in this study on structural inertia, in less developed countries and regions, people adapt better to new radical changes, offering a better vantage point for the future.

A surprising and paradigmatic case is the ebook . It is the most modern societies, its implementation is slow because users still find incentives to physical books. But what happens in a place where there are hardly any physical books? The same as in a China without credit cards.

For this reason, Africa could become, according to Mauro F. Guillen in his book 2030 , the world’s first ebook reader, in the same way that it is already at the forefront of mobile payments. Snappflify , for example, is a South African company that has become the largest educational content platform on the continent, already serving almost 200,000 students.

For its part, Worldreader , a San Francisco NGO, offers free access to a library of ebooks to schools in any developing country.

In rural areas, without coverage, it offers an integrated solution that includes solar panels, USB hubs, led lights, e-book readers and access to the digital library.

Thanks to the magic of Leapfrogging, then, continents like the African could receive an unprecedented cultural and intellectual shake , all at once, and in a few years; the equivalent of the thousands of years shaking that the West received with the 38 most disruptive books for culture and science: