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Africa performs poorly on ITU's ICT data and development report

Africa performs poorly on ITU's ICT data and development report

Africa has not registered an impressive performance on the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) Measuring the Information Society Report which was released today during the 14th World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium in Gaborone.

While the annual report shows that the world is becoming more connected and that there are still huge investment opportunities for the private sector to connect the unconnected, Africa's showing remains below standard.

Among the key findings of the report is that a majority of the 39 African countries in the report's ICT Development Index are 'least connected countries'. This reflects the lower level of economic development in the region which is inhibiting ICT development according to the ITU.

The UN agency found that the average IDI 2016 value for the Africa region was 2.48 points, a figure just over half the global average of 4.94.

Dr Cosmas Zavazava, Chief of Department Project & Knowledge Management at the ITU said the outcomes of the report where it concerns Africa should be contextualised.

"The IDI is an index that is made out of a number of pillars - about eleven sub indices - and then it goes down to deal with the issue of access, the issue of use as well as the issue of skills. Africa happens to have a mixed bag in terms of the composition of countries. Thirty countries are least developed countries with slightly weak economies, but they are making progress. They are landlocked countries that do not have direct access to the sea and thus cannot connect to submarine cables and then we also have the small island developing states," said Dr Zavazava.

"There are a number of geographical inhibiting factors and even skill sets in rural areas where you find up to seventy percent of a country's population. We have huge countries and the population dispersion makes it a little bit difficult to provide services. I would say that Africa is a continent on the move even with the socio-economic challenges. The IDI should not be seen as a measurement of failure or success. It is an indicator that helps countries to create an enabling legal, regulatory environment. It is the fastest growing region when it comes to broadband and mobile telephony. We should not see doom and gloom only," he added.

Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Transport and Communications in Botswana agreed with Zavazava and said, "I hope whatever the index tells us about where we are, will give us new iumpetus in terms of wanting to do better for our economies in order to better the lives of our people because indeed we don't want anyone left behind."

Botswana has moved up one spot in the 2016 ranking to 109th place. The country is in 15th place on the increase in IDI value after shooting up 0.38 in performance.

Algeria and Namibia feature in the top ten in second pace and tenth respectively for improvements in the IDI. The most improved nation in the 12 months between 2015 and 2016 globally is the island of St Kitts and Nevis. The Republic of Korea tops the overall IDI rankings in 2016 for the second consecutive year.

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