The New Times (Kigali)

Africa: Six Presidents Jet in for Connect Africa Summit

Kigali — Six foreign Heads of State spent their night in Kigali ahead of the Connect Africa summit, which gets underway today at Serena Hotel Kigali. President Paul Kagame yesterday made several trips to Kigali International Airport to receive his counterparts.

Those that arrived yesterday include Amadou Toure (Mali), Blaise Compaore (Burkina Faso) Malawi's Bingu Wa Mutharika and Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti. Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade was the last to jet in the country, where as Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunzinza traveled to Kigali by road through Akanyaru border post in the Southern Province.

Nkurunziza was received at the border post by Prime Minister Bernard Makuza in company of top provincial officials.

By press time, it was not clear whether other expected Heads of State would turn up for the high-profile summit.

Sources said President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda had sent a speech to the conference.

Others that were expected are Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Gambia's Yahya Ajj Jammeh and Comoros Vice President Idi Nidhom.

Meanwhile, IT and business executives attending the ICT summit have stated their commitment to ensure that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are achieved by 2012, three years ahead of the projected 2015.

The Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Dr Hamadoun Touré told journalists yesterday: "We want to have achieved the goals regarding ICT by 2012 such that it (ICT) can be used to facilitate achievement of MDGs."

He said that the summit will not draw fresh recommendations but rather discuss implementation of the resolutions reached in earlier meetings.

Time for action

"This is no longer time for resolutions and recommendations it is time for action and that's why we invited private companies to boost the continental investment in ICT," he added.

The ITU boss said that it is projected that $300 billion will have been invested in ICT in Africa by 2012, adding that the private sector was key in the fulfillment of the recommendations drawn earlier.

Touré said 33 percent of Africans are employed in the IT sector. Rwanda's State Minister for Energy and Communications, Eng. Albert Butare, said that delegates would review progress made in promoting the IT sector. "Many issues have been discussed but the just-concluded ministerial meeting that brought together over 30 African ministers in charge of ICT and among them is having a required broadband infrastructure to facilitate direct intra-connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world," Butare said during the press conference at Kigali Serena Hotel.

"We had projected 500 participants and now we have over 1000; the summit is likely to take a different course in favour of all stakeholders because of the big turn up," Touré said.

The high-level summit is co-sponsored by the government of Rwanda, ITU, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development.

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