Wednesday, November 14, 2007

“Gone are the days when Africans used to see Information and Communication Technology as a Luxury”

AllAfrica: Africa: ICT No Longer Luxury for Citizens

At the two-day high-level Connect Africa summit in Kigali, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stated that “In just ten years, what was once an object of luxury and privilege, the mobile phone has become a basic necessity in urban and rural Africa.” Additionally, he urged stakeholders, including the top government and telecoms industry leaders, to explore and invest in other ICT ventures in an effort to connect Africa to the “global information superhighway.” Furthermore, to increase ICT investment in Africa, he encouraged Africa’s private sector to compete with multinational ICT companies.

Although Africa remains the world’s least connected continent, the ICT revolution has made significant steps in Africa. The mobile phone technology is at the forefront, which allows consumers to access a variety of services and helps rural African farmers and traders to receive market information. Additionally, public health delivery has advanced, leading to significant improvements in the transmittal of health data from remote rural corners. Increased use and access to the Internet also connects rural schools and provides access to new information for both teachers and students. Yet, investments remain low in building the necessary ICT infrastructure for more ambitious ICT development. Therefore, President Kagame encouraged African governments to create environments that encourage increased investment, both foreign and domestic, in the ICT sector.

Notably, improved ICT development will improve access and affordability, thereby retaining Africa’s best and the brightest and allowing rural Africa to become fully integrated into the productive economy.

Discussion Question:
Do you believe the growth of mobile phones in Africa will be the catalyst for future African ICT development or is it just wishful thinking?

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