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Over the last week one of the largest telecom companies in the world, Huawei, opened a major mobile broadband technology program.
The Chinese company says they are highly motivated to invest in the growing communication sector. The company believes they can transfer new technology to Ethiopia.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is making it possible for nations to reap economic potentials that previously were thought to be unattainable. For countries like Ethiopia this is making a huge difference in development.
ICT has made governing easier. New technology which improves customer service has even made its way into the court system.
The Ethiopian government is building ICT centers throughout the country to provide access to hard to reach areas
ICT has helped business flourish in Ethiopia and made trade and investment easier. Even though E-commerce is new here it is starting to make a difference.
The government is working to make ICT accessible to the 80 percent of the nation which relies on farming for their livelihood. In these areas mobile phone use is increasing dramatically and farmers are now able to access market information in this way. The new National Science and Technology (NST) is researching ways in which technology can be used to increase crop yields.
Mobile phone use has skyrocketed in Ethiopia but unlike the rest of the world many have yet to take full advantage of the social networking and connections that ICT offers.
In Ethiopia the telecom industry is focusing on mobile phones.
The government of Ethiopia has stressed the establishment of information servers for institutions like Inland Revenue, Customs and regional administrative councils. However this is taking some time because of the lack of sufficiently trained workers.
Tourism, agriculture, culture, environment protection, public administration, health, education, statistics and macroeconomic planning are other areas the government is bringing ICT in to improve service delivery.
E-learning is starting to be used in universities and high schools to help tutor students.
While learning basic application is very useful, the benefits of solid computer, information and communication science education remains fundamental for competitiveness.
In Ethiopia, computer support centers providing basic training in applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, database management and electronic use of communication technology have been growing in numbers.
Currently, the Ethiopian government is constructing an ICT Park, which is a good beginning for expanding the sector development in the country. Hence Huawei, a giant, global ICT firms with 20 research institutions and over 20 joint innovation centers in various countries is to open a development center in Ethiopia. The Chinese firm with over 51,000 employees is engaged in research and development in the USA, Germany, Sweden, Russia, India and China and plans to open a Technical Training center here that caters not only to Ethiopia but also to many countries in Africa.
An increase in computers also means an increase in potentially harmful computer waste. Improperly disposed of computer parts contain toxins such as lead and mercury. These chemicals can seep into the water system and contaminate drinking water. Also the ICT technology could pose problems if it is not properly regulated.
Though these are some of the benefits of the technology there are many more benefits to secure from the sector. Organizations are working with partners like Huawei, one of the world’s top ICT technology equipment and service providers. Huawei is now looking Africa’s expanding ICT market. To achieve its goal of ‘Growing with Africa’, Huawei has invested more than 1.5 billion dollars towards the development of African economy and local telecom industry..
The advances in technology and reductions in costs have made ICTs suitable for developing countries especially in fighting food insecurity. ICTs are no longer luxury for the elite, but becoming an absolute necessity for those in rural areas. Therefore Ethiopia should not leave ICTs as sector for commercial interest or the free market and privatization as such but rather regard them as part of the general public interest, participation, use and debate.
Ethiopia needs to broaden its research and development capacity in computer and information science as much it needs better quality of education, health or telephone access.
Human resources development in solid computing and communication demands deep understanding of the underlying technology, changes in culture for experimentation and bridging the gaps between local needs and available technology.
Tools such as better interfaces in various Ethiopian languages, those providing links between multiple technologies (radio, television, and Internet) are becoming vital in Ethiopia. Increasing access to telecommunications, strengthening the computer science education in the country, establishment of centers of excellence in communications, software development, network research and information retrieval research based on the culture and needs of the people are essential.