ADDIS ABABA - President Paul Kagame has appealed to African governments and business leaders to work harder to harness the potential of broadband technologies that are essential in today’s global business.
Kagame was speaking at the African Union (AU) Summit of Heads of State that begun yesterday in Addis Ababa.
This year’s summit is discussing how the continent can benefit more from the use of ICTs.
In his keynote address to the summit, Kagame said that there’s need to harness the potential of ICTs to generate greater prosperity for the African continent.
“Information and Communication Technology has already enabled Africa to make a tremendous leap in delivering public and private sector services, and in improving lives generally,” Kagame said.
“But we are still at the very early stage of harnessing its potential to generate greater prosperity by connecting our continent to global networks of business, knowledge and productivity.”
He said that while mobile technology has blossomed, the growth of internet infrastructure has not kept pace with the continent’s developmental needs.
“Government and business leaders have to recommit to the implementation of our ICT consensus – we should work even harder to replicate the success of mobile cellular technologies in order to harness the potential of broadband technologies that are essential in participating in global business,” Kagame said.
Kagame said that to achieve this, there’s need to empower institutions and other regional bodies.
“We should empower our institutions, including the African Union Commission and regional bodies to supervise and monitor this vital task. This is because leveraging the various ongoing national initiatives requires a more coordinated regional and continental approach,” he said.
He used the successful rollout of mobile telephony in Africa as an example on how ICTs can change the continent tremendously.
In 2009, the number of Africans with access to telephony stood at 280 million compared to 11 million in 1998.
“This growth was driven by African mobile operators whose combined investment since 2007 amounted to nearly three billion Dollars,” the President said.
However, he said that Africa is still a consumer of ICT products and services – as opposed to creating goods and innovative solutions. “We are not yet engaged significantly in more accessible multi-billion dollar markets of ICT-based outsourcing, most of which currently goes to other parts of the world.”
“If we are to open this vast global market to Africa, we have to rapidly deploy first-rate broadband technologies, enact enabling policies and train a world-class professional workforce,” the President told the AU summit.
At the summit Malawi’s President Bingu Wa Mutharika was elected as the new Chairman of the African Union taking over from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.