Continent urged to invest in ICT infrastructure
African countries should invest heavily in the roll-out of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to reach people at the grass root level as a means of ensuring equitable access to the population, said an ITU official.
Andrew Rugege, the Director of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) regional office for Africa, made the call Friday at the closure of a three-day annual ITU Regional Development Forum in Kigali.
“If we want to ensure equitable access to ICTs in our countries, we need to build broadband infrastructure that covers the whole country, connecting all villages coupled with affordable services,” he said.
Rugege stated that the idea of wider access and use of ICTs will reduce income inequalities between rural and urban areas.
The meeting focused on enabling developed and developing countries to promote an equitable and sustainable development of ICT networks and services.
It attracted six ministers from Africa responsible for ICT and about 150 participants from the respective ministries, regulatory bodies, operators and key stakeholders in the sector from Africa and beyond.
The forum, which was organised by ITU in collaboration with the government of Rwanda, was held under the theme “Promoting Equitable Access to ICT”.
“ITU member states have achieved very good progress. We have a number of countries that have implemented plans for broadband, landed submarine cables, strategic plans for ICT,” added Rugege.
He also called upon member states to keep the commitment they made of connecting all cities with fibre optic cable by the end of 2012 and all the villages by 2015.
The ITU member countries made the pledge in 2007 when they convened in Kigali for the Connect Africa Summit.
Rwanda has fulfilled the commitment by laying the national fibre optic network that has spread across the country.
Garry Mukelaba, an ICT expert from Zambia, said that political will by governments will accelerate the growth of ICT in Africa.
“Recognizing the equity implications of access to ICTs, governments and the private sector should form a solid partnership to enable the rollout of ICT infrastructure and the supply of services in rural areas,” he said.
Contact email: frank.kanyesigye[at]newtimes.co.rw