Telecom and information communication technology operators in Africa convened in Addis Ababa last week at the Innovation Africa-Digital Summit. Ethiopia called for a new form of partnership in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in its bid to advance socio economic development through ICT.
“While we feel that Ethiopia’s effort in utilizing ICT for advancing socio economic development is encouraging, the road toward ensuring adequate ICT access for all, particularly providing affordable access to ICT infrastructure and services to rural communities, remains a daunting challenge. These challenges stem from the fact that ICT is both knowledge based and capital intensive,” said Debretsion Gebremichael, Minister of Communication and Information Technology in his opening speech last Tuesday March, 27, 2012 at the Sheraton.
“Therefore I call upon all the participants in this summit to embark upon a new paradigm of partnership where giving and sharing is gaining; a partnership that will enable us to meet our aspiration together,” added the minister.
The 10th anniversary of the Summit provided the platform for close to 500 of the continent’s policy makers, regulators, service providers, major end users, investors and senior representatives from international technology companies to come together, connect, communicate and interact personally.
Over the past decade, much progress has been made in the growth and development of the African Telecom and ICT landscape. Undersea cable landings, improved satellite connectivity, and developments in wireless and mobile technologies are a few examples. These value added services are driving growth while the resulting service improvements are creating more opportunities for users to easily enjoy valuable services which they previously had little or no access to.
The challenge Africa now faces is to make these developments and the future growth of the telecom and ICT ecosystem sustainable, argued the delegates that convened for three days at Sheraton Addis. To solve the challenge of sustainability; unity is the key to ensuring it, argued the panelists.
African governments are opening ICT parks across the continent and supporting industry growth through public private partnerships, business process outsourcing, engaging more in e-Government services and other major initiatives that support the industry in general and the end user in particular.
This cross-cutting smooth flow of communication has driven innovation, cost saving efficiencies, sustainability and effective knowledge sharing, according to experts in the industry.
For instance, Ethiopia established an ICT Park with a capital of five billion Birr. The Park will fulfill three aims of the country’s Information Technology development; expansion of the IT industry through technology transfer, foreign currency earnings from companies which invest in the ICT Park and employment opportunities which is estimated at 300,000 people at full employment.
The Innovation Africa – Digital Summit is known for being an effective summit for doing business in the ICT and telecom sectors of the African economy. The summit which was organized by Extensia Limited in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology was held from March 27 to 29.