Rwanda is to host the African Heads of State Connect Africa Summit from 29th-30th this month, a minister has said.
State minister for energy and communications Eng. Albert Butare described the summit as a major initiative that will be used to accelerate broadband and wireless connectivity in Africa.
The heads of state will also map-out strategies of providing high-speed and low cost connectivity in the continent. Communication experts say despite the increase in mobile phones—as much as 400 per cent worldwide, Africa has fallen back in overall connectivity.
Fewer than 4 out of every 100 Africans have internet access, broadband penetration remains below 1 per cent, and 70 per cent of all internet traffic within Africa is re-routed outside the continent—as a result, information and communication technology (ICT) costs are high. The meeting is timely and may address some of the concerns.
“The Connect Africa Initiative is expected to function as a partnership to mobilise the human, financial and technical resources required to bridge major gaps in ICT infrastructure in both urban and rural areas with the aim of supporting affordable connectivity, application and services,” Butare was said.
The meeting comes at a time Rwanda is strongly positioning it self as a regional ICT hub, through the national ICT policy—focusing on transforming the country into an information-rich-knowledge-based society and economy by 2020.
According to Butare, the heads of state will discuss interconnectivity of all African major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure by 2010.
They will also suggest measures of stepping up connectivity in villages by more than 50 percent, then come out with ICT standards for the teaching process in primary and secondary schools by 2010.
At least 500 high level stakeholders, including China, India, the European Commission and G8 and Arab countries are expected to attend.
Major ICT companies, the United Nations Development Programme and other international organisations are also expected.