Connect Africa ICT Summit Ends With Renewed Commitment

Computing

This week's 'Connect Africa' summit in Kigali ended on a high note with government and private sector delegates agreeing to work together to develop Africa's interconnectivity.

President Paul Kagame said that Africa may soon lead the world in bridging the digital divide should the present commitment expressed by Heads of State, donors and the private sector translate into real action.

Kagame, who was closing the two-day ICT summit at Serena Hotel on Tuesday, also promised that his government would soon draw appropriate policies and other mechanisms in the spirit of ensuring a more favourable climate for ICT investments on the continent's interconnectivity.

The summit, dubbed 'Connect Africa' was attended by hundreds of government and business leaders from around the world, including five foreign African presidents.

The President said that he would soon invite a national ICT stakeholders' meeting to discuss how the country would immediately start to implement programmes at promoting the sector.

"This is the time when we have to own our problems, take a lead in solving them and create the best environment for investors," he said.

The Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Dr Hamadoun Toure said that days of charity and assistance for Africans are over.

He said: "We have emerged from this historical summit with one aim of making sure that everybody plays their role in making business out of ICT. We have to create a win-win situation to ensure we are beggars no more," he said.

He said that the private sector is determined to invest in the sector while politicians agreed to enact necessary investment regulations.

"This was not a summit of recommendations and we have not adopted any, it's about action," he said.

The State Minister for Energy and Communications, Eng. Albert Butare, said that the summit agreed to come up with a triangular commitment.

"This will involve three players, Governments, to draw favourable policies, investors to come up with ideas and required human resource and the financial institutions to finance their ventures," Butare said.

On the issue of investors who may hesitate to put their money in Africa for fear of political instabilities, Toure said that there could be a hundred reasons not to invest in Africa much as there could be a hundred others to invest.

"We shall go with those that are willing, but as long as we have the required policies in place, I am sure investors are always willing to make profits which are there in this case," he said.

A total of $50 billion was pledged at the summit to help build ICT infrastructure on the highly unconnected continent, with multinational telecoms giant, GSM, promising to invest $50 billion in five years, while the World Bank promised to double their aid flows into ICT to $2 billion by 2012.

Other stakeholders including the African Development Bank and the EU also made pledges.

New Times