Better connectivity will also be an important step to increasing the ICT sector’s contribution to Africa’s GDP, which currently stands at just 5%.
But government’s investments in ICT are lacking. Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head Regional Integration and Trade Division- AUDA-NEPAD Agency highlights how African governments can finance ICT infrastructure.
The highlights were made in an interview with The Guardian during the African Development Bank Annual Meeting under the theme Regional integration’ that were held recently in Equatorial Guinea.
Mr. Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head Regional Integration and Trade Division- AUDA-NEPAD Agency
According to Grey-Johnson in today’s fast-moving world, all infrastructure depends on information and communication technologies (ICTs). Global, national and local infrastructure is controlled, managed and optimized by ICTs, whether power networks, water supplies, transportation systems or communications networks.
Adding that Broadband ICT networks are increasingly critical as they represent the superstructure supporting all other infrastructures, industrial processes, socio-economic advancement and human development that follow.
He stated that the recent progress made in the evolution of telecommunications and ICT policies represents one of the remarkable success stories of global development in the past decade. The unrelenting increase in investment and expansion of communications, while far from complete, provides very encouraging testimony to the effectiveness of market-oriented reforms, and hence points clearly in the direction of the path ahead.
The Head further said that for the fundamental purpose of mobilizing financial capital to invest in ICT networks and services, a mix of open markets, free and fair competition, minimal restrictions, technological neutrality, and competent, effective regulation has proven itself repeatedly.
“Many of the remaining bottlenecks in national ICT objectives, could be greatly reduced or eliminated with additional doses of competition opportunity” he said
At the same time, however, the accelerated transformations of the ICT sectors of nearly every country continue to introduce new challenges for policymakers and regulators, who must cope with constantly changing technical and market conditions.
The key imperative remains to enable and encourage investment financing of ICTs for development objectives, and to ensure that the market and regulatory environment facing current and potential investors will allow maximum deployment of resources, in the most equitable and advantageous ways possible.
Through its ICT Broadband Infrastructure Programme, AUDA- NEPAD aimed to connect all African countries to one another and to the rest of the world by broadband optical fibre. To this end two cable systems, one submarine (Uhurunet) and another terrestrial (Umojanet) were built. Uhurunet, representing an investment of around $700 million was completed in 2012.
Author: ANGEL NAVURI
Since 2005, NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) has approved 76 grants for regional infrastructure projects, crowding in investment financing of over US$ 8.7 billion, thereby directly impacting Africa’s integration and development agenda.
Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head Regional Integration and Trade Division- AUDA-NEPAD Agency made the statement during the African Development Bank Annual Meeting under the theme Regional integration’ that were held recently in Equatorial Guinea.
Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head Regional Integration and Trade Division- AUDA-NEPAD Agency
According to him NEPAD-IPPF was specifically instituted to address the lack of investment-ready infrastructure projects, one of the key constraints to economic development in Africa.
Grey-Johnson mentioned the key achievements which include North Core (Nigeria-Niger-BeninBurkina Faso) 330KV Transmission Project, Multinational Burundi-Rwanda,Benin -Togo- Ghana Electricity Interconnection Project, Kenya-Uganda Oil Pipeline Project, (and Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya Power Interconnection Project.
He further said that Africa’s integration is no longer a matter of choice. Against an international backdrop of changing political and economic priorities, Africa must plot a new course for its industrialization and economic develop, using the momentum of regional integration.
According to him for Africa, a vast continent of over 1.2 billion people, integration has considerable potential not only for promoting robust and equitable economic growth through markets, but also for reducing conflict and enhancing trade liberalisation.
Adding that Africa has a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion. Such a market could create huge opportunities for producers on the continent. But to make it a reality, African governments and regional economic communities should intensify efforts aimed at facilitating the free movement of goods, services, people and trade across borders.
According to reports Regional integration is often seen as less relevant for resource-rich countries, since demand for commodities typically comes from the global market rather than from regional demand. Regional integration in Africa, however, can play a vital role in diversifying economies away from dependence on the export of just a few mineral products; in delivering food and energy security; in generating jobs for the increasing number of young people; and in alleviating poverty and delivering shared prosperity. Therefore to accelerate the integration, the priority of economic integration must be balanced by those of social, cultural and political integration. Policy instruments, especially for overlapping REC member nations, need to be harmonised. Currently, weak enforcement of existing treaties and nontariff barriers continue to hinder free movement of goods, services and persons across borders.
Author: ANGEL NAVURI