Pretoria — Manufacturing Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) devices and gadgets on the continent will help to bring down the costs of digitising Africa, says Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele.
Minister Cwele was speaking at the Smart Africa Alliance board meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, as part of his engagements at the Transform Africa Summit.
"The Smart Africa Alliance will help African countries to digitise the continent and use ICTs to quickly catch up and be competitive with developed nations. The South Africa Government has decided that we should join the Smart Africa Alliance to contribute in the growth and integration of the continent," said Minister Cwele in a statement on Friday.
Another factor that he identified as key in the digitising the continent is the building of basic and high end ICT skills to give Africans confidence in using ICT and also developing applications that solve African problems.
The summit launched the Smart Cities master plan which is a blueprint for the development of smart cities on the continent.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services said the summit views cities as engines of economic growth and the masterplan seeks to maximise this potential by using ICTs to improve the development and management of transport systems, energy efficiency, water, sanitation, the environment, and the provision of online services to support government and business services.
Minister Cwele's attendance of the board meeting follows Cabinet's approval that South Africa joins the Smart Africa Alliance, which is a collaboration between African governments to develop relevant solutions and share resources to address the development challenges facing the continent.
The Alliance places ICTs at the centre of meeting the developmental goals of Agenda 2063.
The board meeting is the highest decision making platform of the Alliance
South Africa will champion localisation and skills development for digital Africa in the Smart Africa Alliance.
This is aimed at driving industrialisation through national infrastructure plans, stimulating demand for locally produced electronics and boosting the capacity, as well as growth of local and indigenous Small, Medium and Micro-Enterprises (SMMEs).
Other objectives included building relevant and resilient infrastructure to foster innovation, as well as promoting private-public partnerships for ICT innovation throughout the continent.