Mark Bennett, founder of ZAMNET, Zambia’s first ISP has died

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Mark Bennett demosntrating one of his Zambian creation , the ZEDuPad
Mark Bennett demosntrating one of his Zambian creation , the ZEDuPad

Mark Bennett, the founder of ZAMNET, the company that first brought the Internet to Zambia has died. Mark Bennett died in hospital in Lusaka following a short illness on the morning of 10th February 2015.

The memorial service for Mr Bennett will be held this Saturday, February 14, 2015 at 10:00 hours at Trinity Church on Church road, in Lusaka.

Mark Bennett, left England in the 1980s with his young family, for a university of Zambia job to introduce computers to Zambia.

At the University of Zambia, he redeveloped all administrative systems, moved into early electronic communication in Africa, and founded ZAMNET (a campus company), one of the first ISPs on the Continent. Mr Bennett acted as MD for the first 2 years of its existence, installed campus-wide network and introduced the Internet into academic life at University of Zambia. Mr Bennett worked for 12 years at the University of Zambia.

In 2005 he set up AfriConnect Zambia, which was sold to Vodacom in 2010. After AfriConnect, Mr Bennett moved on to create iSchool and last year he moved to working full time for iSchool, which is developing eLearning for the Zambian school curriculum.

According to Mr Bennett,

iSchool is built on the belief that many of Africa’s deepest-routed problems can only be overcome through radical improvements to education. This means building a generation of thinking, problem-solving children who will be able to unlock the great potential of the Continent: who will grow economies; rethink democracy; improve health, and greatly increase the life chances of their children.

We believe that change needs to start right at the beginning of the education system – in primary schools. And it needs to happen in an African way using local languages; context and examples from the towns and villages where children actually come from. It needs to be fully immersive experiential learning that constantly asks questions and challenges the children.

You can read more about Mark Bennett’s tribute here

http://businessinnovationfacility.org/profiles/blogs/mark-bennett-obituary-of-an-education-entrepreneur

markbennette

68 COMMENTS

  1. +26
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    Sad to hear the death of this remarkable selfless man. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
    MHSRIP

    • +2
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      Dead after a short illness?… Is this just a coincidence, or is the new era on a mission to disappear and eliminate any perceived foes or those that helped their accessories.

    • +30
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      Surprised he didn’t get much coverage and rewarded for Services to this country.
      Thoughts with his family

      Thanks
      BB2014

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      RIP Mr Bennet.I was on campus when the Zamnet project started.Didn’t realise it was Africa’s first ISP. The man was a visionary. At the time Zamnet attracted top class Zambian engineers and IT experts but politics and selfish allowance seeking Zambians drove them away. If the vision was continued Zamnet would be Africa’s top company but look at it today? What’s wrong with us Zambians kanshi ?

    • +8
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      These kind of people to run companies like ZAMTEL, not names Mwanakatwe. Now the better ones has died, remaining with the useless.

    • +2
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      I forget that there are people who are selflessly working for the common good than our politicians.
      I wish i was in his class, just to learn from people like him. But still, i have learnt something from his passing that certain people are out there finding solutions.

    • +3
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      continu…
      While i am out here complaining about Lungu, HH, Sata and the like. People who have reaped this great nation of its full potential. For that i am ashamed.

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      Quite a loss indeed and sad. This man had a great vision for his company. I hope that the company has a strong system of administration so that it can function even without him. So sad.
      R.I.E.P.

  2. +7
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    MHSRIP he is a great loss to Zambia. May our Mighty God be with the believed family in this trying moment.

  3. +7
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    The question is, who will carry on with this great vision?
    My heart and prayers go to the bereaved family. What a big loss indeed.

  4. +12
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    Now this was a man of great value and integrity. Am really sad. Blessings for his family and prayers for them. He is the investor and outside visionary Zambia always needs. In fact he was a real Zambian.

  5. +8
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    A true embodiment of humbleness, selflessness and passion he was. I feel any body that has ever met this man in person has had a change on the outlook of life. RIP Mr. Bennett

  6. +4
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    this is a big loss to our country indeed. There are a lot of Engineers in this country but not as innovative as Mr Bennett .

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      I wish i was in his class, just to learn from people like him. But still i have learnt something from his passing that certain people are out there who work for the common good.

  7. +6
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    Mark, I remember you as a bushy-haired geek from my days at the university, working ever so hard to create ZAMNET, whose impact in latter years I never really envisaged in those days.

    I remember how my friends who were studying Math with Computer Science would tease us (from Chemistry) then that we were actually ‘computer illiterate’ after coming from one of their computer labs.

    Zambia will always treasure your contribution to the computer revolution in this great nation.

    R.I.P.

  8. +12
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    He was a great man who modernized Zambia. We should appreciate such peoples rather than politicians who does think of tomorrow generation. May his soul rest in peace.

  9. +7
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    You and Bill Sangiwa offered me my first job straight from the university without looking at my experience. You truly believed in young talent. Rest in peace mark.

  10. +7
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    I had the privilege to work with Mark when the Zamnet was being formulated and it was a pleasure to see how genuine selflessness manifests. Rest In Peace, Mark. You will surely live through your good works.

  11. +6
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    These are the people who deserve to be recognised and awarded by the State instead of just cadres; even posthumously will do. Zamnet was one of the best local start-ups. MHSRIP

  12. +6
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    Great Man. I remember him from the days of Main Frame at UNZA. What a loss to the country. MHSRIP

  13. +4
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    MHSRIP ! What Mark found was an enabling environment for his ideas and willing local disciples. The lesson in this is that, government is there to provide an enabling environment, the rest filaisova…when diasporans talk of dual citizenship that is exactly the latitude of their visions. Mark saw huge potential and was left to do what he could do best. Let the govt make its position clear on diasporal investors and returnees – it is a huge untapped pool, aching to supplement government in solving our country’s problems and opening up the potence in Mark’s above quote !

  14. +4
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    Ndiye Bamuna aba, not ati GBM. Thank you for all you did for Zambia. What a huge loss. Condolences to the family and MHSRIP

  15. +7
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    Thank you for making Zambia computer literate. You have left it a better place than you found it. You have left a ‘Mark’ in this country. May more emulate you.

    Sorry to know of you in death. RIP.

  16. +2
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    Heartfelt condolences to the family of late Mark Bennett. He was such a great man who made immense contribution to ICTs in Zambia. Rest in Eternal Peace of the Lord Mark. Thank you for the great work that you did.

  17. +4
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    Rest in Peace. You were a true patriot and loved this country much more than some of us so-called indigenous who do nothing but loot and mismanage the country

  18. +4
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    these are are the sort of individuals deserving of a national mourning.but in zed,that’s a preserve for former plunderers.the zambian media is also drunk with politics,forgetting giving good coverage to revolunaries like mr. Bennet.sad indeed!!!

  19. +4
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    I had opportunity to work with him he was a great man, humble , visionary , simple, tolerant,selfless. He was the first man to take broad band internet in the rural area in Zambia and this was in Namwala third in zambia to have INTERNET

  20. +1
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    Was at “Yunza”, to borrow kalaki’s word, from 2004 and i studied computer science.How come i never heard of him? RIP man

    • +2
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      Zed has a habit of shutting down history. That is why you never heard of him. However, Mark was the pioneer of all that you enjoy whenever you talk Internet… From Fidonet to what we know now…

    • +4
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      Because you were studying evening classes when everyone who knew him had knocked off.

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      Mark Bennett put forward a proposal for automation of UNZA administration and an interactive system for the education of all students in 1985. I was with Mark, when the IBM Mainframe arrived and we installed it at the Computer Centre. Mark worked tirelessly 24 x 7 and achieved milestones for UNZA. All students and staff were using the mainframe from 1987. The Admission of students to UNZA in record time would never have been possible without Mark! From time-tabling of courses to managing student records, Finance and Payroll were all automated and implemented by Mark and his team.
      As Mark worked ‘behind the scenes’ and was a very humble man, most students would have be unaware of him. Mark brought the internet to Zambia. Mark brought UNZA and Zambia in to the 21st century! R.I.P dear…

  21. +2
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    I had the privilege to work with Mark when the unza first had campus wide computer network. Little did I know that this was just foundation to bring in INTERNET in Zambia.I remember his working culture; hard worker, diligence, focused, selfless. Rest In Peace, Mark.

  22. +3
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    My condolences to Mark Bennett’s family.

    I never heard about Mark, but reading about him and his innovative accomplishments makes me feel as if I knew him personally.

    RIP Mark.

  23. +2
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    Although in their own parallel worlds, we need to advocate for the honoring of individuals like Mark Bennett, Diaz Bartholomeusz, Prof. Kelly, Prof Morgan, the now Prof. Prakash and so many unsung contributors to what has actually driven Zambia without laying claim to fame! Those who know remember what value these names have given to our country!

    RIP Mark, as you join the Titan of History!

  24. +2
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    Pitani bwino a Mark….. my first interaction with a mainframe computer at UNZA in 1991 was coz of you. Now people are busy using the internet for insults! The pioneers on internet and networking are not even being remembered. Sad loss RIP!

  25. +1
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    I was at the World Bank when he applied for a Grant of US$100,000 to start this ZAMNET and it was approved.

    Lesson for the rest of us; when you have excellent ideas, put in a proposal and sell it to the World, not just our local banks who will in most cases not accept, as you have no collateral.

    Very sad to hear the death of this remarkable selfless man. My sincere heartfelt condolences to his family. M.H.S.R.I.P.

    • vote

      @Joebiden, you brought up a good issue here which I would look at it and push for a go ahead in our country. You just complained about the business proposal and the world bank approved him that kind of money. We need that in our country too, some of us we are here enjoying these good opportunities of bank loans and credit cards, that we lack in zambia, if we can manage to get all this to work a lot of businesses in zambia can pick up. The banks don’t help enough to those people in business, how can a business entity be looking for some money and the bank wants you to have collateral of equivalent to what you want to get. If we can introduce credit scores, where everything is based on your credit scores not how much money you have in the account a lot of business minded people will do a…

  26. +2
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    My wife works for ZAMNET and I have known through her that ZAMNET has been an UNZA product. However, I am only learning about its mastermind at the time of his death. What a contribution to the nation he made. God be with the family.

  27. +1
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    He was such a wonderful techie man. Happened to have met him first whilst working in the Computer Centre at the Copperbelt University in the early 1990s. MYSRIP.

  28. +3
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    Sad to learn that our friend in the IT industry is gone.My condolences to his family.I’m shocked that he was the founder of ZAMNET but without recognition.I’ve have been saying that, Zambia will never develop so long as we sideline Information Technology specialist and Engineers.No country on this earth has developed without Engineers and IT specialists.We need people who can innovate something.Look at USA,China,Russia,German,UK and other European countries!!!Let us respect people with good ideas of innovations.i’m sorry but accountant,lawyers and others aba fikwakwa can just work when t an engineer or IT specialist develops something.Pipo want to steal bcoz they can’t make money through thinking.God help us in Africa especially Zambia.RIP

  29. +4
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    Opening a BENNETT TRUST or FOUNDATION in his name would keep his spirit of Innovation alive in the IT industry.

    Zamnet and all the other institutions can initiate this, that is if a Trust/Foundation does not exist already.

    This guy is a legend and leaves a challenge to all who have come to know of him.

  30. vote

    @Chanda Musyalike. That sounds a good idea. The Foundation can be formed and may be able to spearhead Mark’s ideals. I believe he was for ICT development in Zambia, Sorry to divert a bit, and Namwala and the whole Southern Province can develop. I hope our brothers and Sisters in the South will not reject the proposal and “WE WANT HH”. Just joking basaankwa.

  31. +2
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    What a loss! Mark and I wrote the first article on the power and future of internet for SADC in 1992. We have lost an excellent resource and visionary person. A quite person but focused and result oriented. MHSRIP.

  32. +1
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    Rest in peace Mr B, from the little interaction I had with you at Ic I knew you were a great thinker, technology driver and also a father to all of us. Rest well Sir.

  33. vote

    I am deeply disappointed.From the above comments, I am able to tell that most of the rubbish, unanalytical,tribal and illitrate comments I read here actually come from university graduates.

    Let us all change and carry on with the spirit of Mark in diverse fields.Debates must change to issues that benefit the country.MHSRIEP!

  34. +1
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    Mark has left an indelible mark in the history of the Internet in Zambia. I propose that UNZAmanagement considers naming an appropiate building at UNZA after him. Having memorial annual lectures will also help to keep alive the memory of a great man who sought to empower a nation and a continent with knowledge…..

  35. +1
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    Let us see what our leaders say about this man. What kind of recognition do you give a person for pioneering a service for the future of the country? I am waiting.

  36. +2
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    I’ve known Mark since he first arrived in Zambia. He brought technological innovation and a vision for the future. His exceptional skills, foresight and wisdom are rare to find. Above all, he was kind and caring to all, and a Humanitarian who stayed loyal and true through every hardship experienced. Mark Bennett’s enthusiasm, passion and commitment to education and learning will sadly be missed. He sacrificed his life and comforts for a better world.

  37. +1
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    UNZA Computer Centre should be named after Mark Bennett.
    The University got its first IBM Mainframe and PC laboratory for students, thanks to the efforts of this humble and kind gentleman.

  38. vote

    A service of Thanksgiving and to celebrate his life will be held at 3.00 pm on Friday 20th March 2015 at Wesley Methodist Church, Christ’s Pieces, Cambridge CB1 1LG.

    • vote

      So sorry to hear about the loss of Mark. Sympathy and condolences to Janet and the girls.
      Yvonne Ayliffe

  39. vote

    i will miss him ,when i first head the sad news i called his number,it was off for the first time since i started communicating with him.i could not believe greatly missed.rest in peace big man.

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