9 May 2012

Africa: Spotlight On ICT Development in the Continent

Photo: Dr. Nadeem/SKA Africa
Satellite dishes.

International models on how to boost the development of the ICT sector in Africa will come under the spotlight during the inaugural ICT Indaba taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 4 to 7 June.

The event, organised by the Department of Communications and endorsed by the International Telecommunications Union, aims to formulate an African Agenda to promote ICT as a catalyst for social and economic development on the continent.

According to the department, hundreds of delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America, including ICT executives and government representatives, will take part in the 2012 ICT Indaba, while ICT regulators from more than 50 countries on the continent have also been invited.

One of the keynote speakers at the Indaba will be ITU deputy secretary-general Houlin Zhao, who will present a paper on the role of ICTs in socio-economic development.

Tech gurus peer into Africa's crystal ball

One of the highlights of the Indaba will be a "crystal ball exercise" in which eight international experts will discuss strategies for entrepreneurs and predict the future of technology in Africa and the world over the next 15-20 years.

The crystal ball "gurus" will include Dimension Data chairman Andile Ngcaba, Japan Science Agency director Shig Okaya, Global Innovation Summit (Silicon Valley) executive chairman Alfred Watkins, Intel Capital Africa director Sam Mensah, and Microsoft Middle East and Africa regional head Zaki Khoury.

Vijay Tharumartnam of Multi Development Corporation will speak on the Malaysian "Silicon Valley experience" during a session devoted to "developing smart cities in the African context", in which there will also be presentations on Bangalore, Indian's Silicon Valley, Mexico's Guadalajara, and Egypt.

Developing country models for skills development

Speakers from Rwanda, China, India, and Cuba will discuss developing country models for building and retaining the necessary skills base for a robust ICT industry. These will include Miche Bezy, associate director of Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda, who will look at how Rwanda is producing a competitive ICT skills base.

Dr Jun Xia of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications will discuss the Chinese model of advancing rural development through ICTs, the Indian model will look at conceptualising e-skills development programmes, while the Cuban model will share experiences on producing industry-ready graduates.

Other sessions will focus on broadband connnectivity and policies for advancing the knowledge-based economy in Africa, while speakers from the World Bank and African Development Bank will address a key session looking at infrastructure development as a basis for integrated ICT initiatives.

Communications Minister Dina Pule said the ICT Indaba sought to ensure that ICT fulfilled its potential as an enabler of economic growth and job creation, not only in South Africa but throughout the continent.

"I take pleasure in inviting our compatriots across the Diaspora to our country to partner with us, the ICT industry, labour and civil society as we enter a bold partnership that seeks to shape the development of the continent," Pule said in a statement on Tuesday.

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