The Gambia's political will and infrastructure to continuously develop ICT and maintain an environment conducive for its growth, have been cited as the cardinal reasons for the 12th Innovation Africa Digital (IAD) Summit - a high-profile ICT summit - to be hosted in the country, from today through Thursday, 25 -27 March by international ICT firm Extensia Limited in collaboration with The Gambia's Ministry of Information and Communications Infrastructure (MOICI).
The summit, which takes place at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, is expected to bring together about 300 participants including Africa's' Telecom leaders, to The Gambia to discuss the theme: 'Quality of Service and Customer Experience', considered as one of the most pressing issues facing Africa's telecommunications industry.
Policymakers, regulators, C level representatives from fixed, mobile and ISP operators, and major end users, will be introduced to international solution providers and consultants, and one-to-one business meetings to accelerate telecoms and ICT growth in Africa. More than 25 individual African ministries will also be represented in this important summit.
Speaking to the press yesterday at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia, Adrian Hall, Executive Director of Extensia Ltd, which supports sustainable growth of telecoms and ICT across Africa, said the first and foremost reason for holding the event this year in The Gambia is because of the political will the country demonstrates in maintaining a growing ICT environment.
"I think first and foremost the political will within the country demonstrates, from the very highest levels, there is an understanding of the values of ICT; there is understanding of the need to develop an ecosystem within the country, not just in the industry, but an ecosystem that works as one," Mr Hall said while explaining their criteria for hosting such an important event in a country.
"So when it comes to the criteria we look at those countries that are on the verge of making their growth of development; that have taken the first steps and there is a continued drive within the country.
He continued: "Again, what we saw in The Gambia is the infrastructure that is coming into the country driven by the ACE cable project; the ecosystem - which is very important - in The Gambia.
"At the moment The Gambia is known as a holiday destination; this event would show the country as an ICT hub as well, as business destination, as a place where the government down to the individual operators have a will to drive forward."
Mr Hall said the IAD has achieved a lot for other countries where it has been held and made use of, such as in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Ghana over the years, adding that the event creates the opportunity to showcase what is actually happening in a country in respect of ICT, as well as exposure of the industry.
The Extensia executive director thanked President Yahya Jammeh, the MOICI and The Gambia nation for accepting to host the summit in The Gambia.
"It is honour to have the opportunity to showcase the reality of ICT in The Gambia and to provide that exposure to people within The Gambia, who can benefit from the many activities," added Mr Hall.
In briefing the press about the all-important event, the Deputy permanent secretary of MOICI, Lamin Camara, said that the IAD Summit is an ICT event that brings together the ICT fraternity in Africa, to share ideas, knowledge, experience and expertise.
"We think the summit will serve as a platform to see how best we would exploit that opportunity to our interest," DPS Camara noted, adding: "We will have the opportunity to learn from ICT leaders in and around Africa and the world."
Uganda Minister of State responsible for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Hon. Nyombi Thembo, Communications & Media and Economic Regulation Director Gita Sorensen, andExtensia Ltd Chairman Madane Reo, all threw light on the essence of the meeting.