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.
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