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Policy makers commit to smart Africa vision

Policy makers commit to smart Africa vision

Transformation to knowledge-based economies and job creation are two key challenges facing leaders across Africa.

This is according to ICT ministers and policy makers from the continent who met recently at the 2nd AfICTA (Africa Information & Communication Technologies Alliance) Summit in Egypt.

The event was a joint initiative by AfICTA and local host association member EITESAL or Egypt Information Telecommunications, Electronics, and Software Alliance.

AfICTA is a private sector-led alliance of stakeholders that make up the ICT sector in Africa. It includes ICT associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and institutions. It is composed of members from 19 African countries including, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, the Gambia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Namibia, Niger, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Benin, Morocco, Libya, Djibouti and Ghana.

The organisation's chief mandate is to help fulfil the promise of the digital age for everyone in Africa.

With the focus on ICT strategies to meet these challenges, as well as on how to leverage off advances in eHealth, eAgriculture and eGovernment, delegates delved into the development of solutions that have been designed to improve government processes and services.

Experts recommended Public Private Partnership (PPP) protocols as a viable solution to strategy implementation.

An excerpt from an official Summit report states, "It was proposed governments should focus more on regulatory functions rather than being service providers. Noting that during the e-Government panel, experts and consultants shared best practices and case studies from different countries. They discussed and analyzed solutions to help improve government processes, services offered to citizens and building external interaction with non-governmental institutions. Governments & societies need to be aware of the technologies and e-Government services and benefits before using it. African governments should engage more with the private sector to work on e-Government solutions with real impact for citizens."

Under the Cairo Declaration participants agreed there is a need to embrace a multi-stakeholder approach to articulating and promoting ICT strategies and policies in the continent, as well as to adopt strategies, policies and programs to foster knowledge based economies.

"We are encouraging private and civil society organizations to motivate their governments to adopt such strategies and policies," the Report stated.

There was also a call made for health services delivered to rural areas to be improved using eHealth technologies. Tele-medicine has been identified as a key mechanism through which to provide eHealth solutions via the Cloud.

While infrastructure and penetration remain challenges, panelists who deliberated over eEducation stated that today the focus should be on digital bridge/ spread rather than the outdated concept of digital divide, and that eLearning has been taken up extensively in regions like Egypt - driven by government-led pilot projects.

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