AITEC, one of Africa’s leading organizer of ICT conferences and exhibitions, announced at a press conference in Lagos last week that it will be holding its fifth annual African Computing & Telecommunications Summit, ACT 2003, in Abuja over 26-29 August 2003.

ACT is established as the continent’s top gathering of ICT users, suppliers, service providers, policy-maker and innovators. The theme of this year’s summit is: "Mobilising ICT applications and projects for effective corporate, national and regional development".

AITEC’s Group Chairman, Sean Moroney, said that no other event draws together such a distinguished and widespread range of decision-makers from all four corners of the continent. AITEC expects over 500 participants. "We are delighted that the Nigerian government has invited AITEC to hold ACT 2003 in Abuja, the Federal Capital of the Africa’s largest and fastest growing ICT market," he said.

ACT will include a number of specialist forums and a major highlight will be the West African Internet Forum (WAIF), which AITEC will be holding in collaboration with the Nigerian Internet Group (NIG), the ISP Association of Nigeria (ISPAN), Balancing Act of the UK and the African ISP Association (AfrISPA). "Following the East African Internet Forum in Nairobi at last year’s ACT and the Southern African Internet Forum which AITEC held in April, it is time for West Africa’s ISPs, regulators and policy-makers to get together in one Forum to accelerate Internet development in West Africa through national and regional co-operation and increased technical knowledge. ACT will provide the platform to catalyse this process," said Moroney.

Another key forum at the event will be the African Open Source Forum, which AITEC is holding in association with the Free and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSFFA), which was formed earlier this year. "There is an intense debate currently raging across Africa regarding the pros and cons of open source software as a means of reducing computing costs. The Forum will provide a valuable opportunity for delegates to assess the arguments on each side and enable them to develop their computing strategies on a well-informed basis," said Toyin Ogunseinde, GM of AITEC Nigeria and an acknowledged computer industry leader in Nigeria.

ACT will also include the African Telecommunication Operators Forum, to provide an opportunity for the growing number of operators across West Africa and the rest of the continent to participate in an intensive information and education programme to improve their services and profitability in an increasingly competitive environment.

ACT’s SME Corporate Solutions Forum will be aimed at the enterprise management needs of small and medium-sized organizations across Africa. In addition, AITEC is going to work closely with stake-holders in Nigeria and across Africa to develop an eGovernance Forum at ACT 2003, aimed at briefing legislators and administrators on best ICT practices in government.

Intensive training workshops will cover a range of specialist topics, including:

- VSAT technical implementation.

- VSAT business management and marketing.

- Value added services for telecommunication operators, including SMS business opportunities

- Technical skills for ISPs

- New wireless frontiers, including WiFi

"AITEC is proud of its long track record of providing educational opportunities for Africa’s ICT professionals, managers and policy-makers. ACT is our most intensive educational platform and we are confident it is going to make a major impact on Nigeria’s ICT market," said Sean Moroney. "We will be working closely with local professional and industry groups to make sure we meet local needs. Groups and agencies we are consulting include the Office of the President, the Nigerian Computer Society and the National IT Development Agency."

Nigeria’s leading business newspaper, Business Day, has been appointed as the official newspaper for the event and will publish pre-event coverage, as well as a special ACT 2003 Supplement, and provide continuous daily coverage and updates in print and on its web site during the event

ACT will also have an exhibition for local and international suppliers of IT and telecommunications solutions. National pavilions will include one from South Africa.

Keynote speakers will include Andile Ngcaba, Director-General of Communications in South Africa and Mark Davies, founder of the highly successful Busy-Internet cyber centre operation in Ghana. Over 70 international and local experts will be speakers or workshop leaders. AITEC has also invited the ICT Commission of NEPAD to hold its next meeting of commissioners and experts to coincide with the Summit.