bells university of technology,ota
NAME: IBE IKECHUKWU GREGORY
MATRIC NUM: 2010/1694
NAME: ODIASE PATRICK
MATRIC NUM: 2010/1584
NAME: UGHANZE CHIBUEZE
MATRIC NUM: 2010/1624
ICT IN AFRICA
Information and Communication Technology
One of the few growth areas in the world economy at the moment is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. It is estimated that in the USA over the next 20 years there will be a short fall of millions to fill vacancies in the IT and ITC sectors. It is thus essential that other countries take up the slack. Already India and China have been very successful in attracting ICT contracts from Europe and America. It is now the time for Africa to seize these new business opportunities.
For decades Africa has been lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of average GDP and the development of a broad based economy. This is partly due to poor infrastructure, corrupt governments, banks that are keen to continue the profitable business of debt repayment, poor education systems, and the connivance of multinationals. This is all about to change.
Already companies are bidding to build more fiber optic lines to connect Africa to the rest of the world. SEA COM has laid cable all around the coast of Africa. At present it touches land at Accra in Ghana, Lagos in Nigeria, Cape Town in South Africa, Maputo in Mozambique, DAR Es Salaam in Tanzania, Mombasa in Kenya and Djibouti. Other companies are busy laying the internet infrastructures that will allow Africa to not only go online but to truly compete with the rest of the world in the ICT market place.
At the same time there has been an upsurge in mobile phone and mobile device use in Africa. There are now in place several companies providing e-banking, e-commerce, e-learning, e-democracy and e-agriculture. Africa is one of the most rapidly expanding IT sectors in the world. Its citizens are catching on very quickly to the many benefits of ICT.
Africa is well positioned to gain a growing income from Business Process Outsourcing. Not only does it have the internet infrastructure in place but it also has the language abilities. There is a vast pool of Africans who claim English, French and Portuguese as their second language. There is also a size able community of Mandarin speakers in Africa. These language skills will prove to be decisive in the future for African BPO prospects.
Another encouraging sign for the African ICT scene is the growing number of computer manufacturers in Africa. The number of African countries capable of making computers as well as companies producing software and other IC applications for mobiles is driving Africa on. It is no longer a continent hopelessly lagging behind the rest of the world. This image that it has will change as it begins to grab more of the global ICT business opportunities.
In terms of education, ambitious plans are underway to provide all African school children with a laptop. This can be achieved by cloud technology that allows computers to be built cheaply that still perform complex and memory heavy tasks by using the ability to store data on the cloud. It is certain that future generations of Africans will be even more computer literate.
This website is devoted to ICT topics, to African internet development and to the role that Africa can play in the global digital age.
All across Africa, lots of governments are busy developing laws and systems to censor what people can do online. Their main focus is usually social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. But one country is promising a different approach, Kenya has assured the world that it has no intention of heavily censoring it’s citizens online.
It is hoped by various free speech organisations that this has something of an effect on other African nations. Take for example Zimbabwe which this year is scheduled to hold it’s elections. In Zimbabwe the coalition government are actually using these social networks themselves in order to promote a referendum on the new national constitution.
The story is not so straight forward in other countries though. In Malawi, the E Bill is the piece of legislation that enables the government to control access to the internet by individuals. In true Big Brother style, the state is appointing cyber- inspectors to monitor and inspect online activities.
Move over to Zambia and it’s a similar story, again using the pretext of blocking hate speech, although this is normally considered to be restricted to that speech directed at the rulers of the country. It is a very big job especially now with the introduction of cheaper smart mobile phones with internet capability. Africans love their phones and for many it’s their first experience of the internet in their daily lives.
There has been a huge increase in the amount of security enabled programs being used in these countries to bypass and protect the monitoring. However it’s also entertainment that is encouraging the use of proxies and VPNs to be used. For example a UK based VPN or proxy server can allow the user to watch British TV from a phone, laptop or mobile device. The cost is fairly low for these services although still expensive for most Africans.
There are many people who believe that one of the biggest chances that Africa has to develop and vastly improve the standard of living there is the internet. There is no doubt that throughout the world there is a huge correlation between successful developed countries and internet usage in those countries. Of course you could argue that it is merely representative of previous success which enables the infrastructure to be developed and implemented. However I believe that is far too simplistic.
The internet is more than a way to keep up with your friends or waste a few hours browsing around. The internet is the most powerful, market place for skills, goods and services that there has ever been. There is simply no sort of physical business that can’t benefit from some sort of internet presence and literally millions of businesses that simply exist online with no physical location. For Africa this is important, one of the biggest obstacles faced by the African entrepreneur is the lack of seed or investment funding to start a business. African banks have simply not provided this service in the past although thankfully it is changing. However an internet business can be started for virtually nothing, time and effort goes a long way online and it’s a great way for an entrepreneur to start and make a worthwhile living.
It’s not easy starting up a business in Africa, but hopefully the internet will start to make that easier. One of the biggest problems in Africa is the lack of infrastructure both physical and intellectual. For example in the developed world, becoming an entrepreneur is not that difficult. There are agencies to help you start, grants from governments and usually plenty of sources of start up capital in the form of business or development loans. Of course the global financial crisis has affected this in most countries, but it’s still way simpler to get start up capital from a European bank than an African one.
However individuals are starting to see the huge potential in Africa where the Internet penetration is around 12%. This figure although low by developed standards still works out at roughly 120 million Africans who have access to the internet. However this is growing and fast, even now fiber optic cables are being laid across the continent, which will soon make fast broadband access available to all sorts of people including low income groups.
Of course with people come markets, when you’re talking about a potential market of hundreds of millions of users then the growth is going to be huge. The possibilities for mirroring sites that have been successful in Europe, Asia and North America is obvious. Starting an online business based in Africa is looking to be a seriously good move, Amazon Africa for example!
Of course there are still problems, until the broadband infrastructure is complete then some African entrepreneurs will have problems online. But there’s no doubt that Africa is going to benefit hugely from the internet revolution and hopefully many millions of Africans will be given the chance to earn their living online.
Interventions to Advance the ICT Sector in Africa
Intervention 1: Reducing the cost of access for mobile and broadband
Addressing the direct cost challenges will require improving the regulatory and competitive environments for operators, and well as better coordination in developing the infrastructure. There will be some negative near-term effects on the largest or incumbent players, since many of these interventions encourage increased competition, however, the improvement of the long-term outlook for the ICT sector should benefit operators in the long term by expanding the customer and business base for these services
One method to reduce such costs includes focusing on improving the regulatory environment for mobile and broadband companies in the marketplace. An example of this method coming to life is in Costa Rica, where government tariff subsidies keep the relative cost of mobile calls and SMS low, despite the fact that there is only one mobile operator and resolving constraints to create access for additional players.
Boosting Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction:
Africa is on the move, and information and communications technologies (ICT) are a powerful tool to boost economic growth and poverty reduction. ICT increase efficiency, provide access to new markets or services, create new opportunities for income generation and improving governance and give poor people a voice. Taking into account Africa’s complexity and diversity, specific interventions are required rather than “one-size-fits-all” approaches. Isolated investment in ICT does not permit leapfrogging to higher growth rates. However, as a key part of a development strategy, main-streaming ICT in the productive sectors is a matter of economic survival. Maximum mobilization of private investment, including from the African Diaspora, is vital.
2. African leaders and their development partners share alike the vision and commitments of the World Summit of the Information Society resolutions regarding the key role of ICT for inclusive, globally competitive and knowledge-based societies. The following recommendations follow on from that vision. Africa’s success story with mobile telephony graphically shows that when ICT be-come affordable to low-income users, new employment, micro-entrepreneurial and social development opportunities emerge. ICT-induced growth should be reinforced by targeted policies for effective poverty reduction. The key bottlenecks to progress are rooted in infrastructure, access and the enabling environment.
3. It is recommended that African governments and their international partners make an unprecedented effort to address infrastructure bottlenecks regarding access, operational capacity and maintenance requirements of ICT infrastructure, transport and electricity. In particular, Assign highest priority to advance NEPAD’s broadband initiative, by mobilizing funding and investment, and providing the necessary regulatory and legal frameworks; Ensure and support regional co-ordination in the planning of new infrastructure and in assuring maintenance of existing infrastructure.
4. It is recommended that African governments and their international partners prioritize ICT access and effective use at all levels, including the provision of public access facilities, relevant content, and increased capacities. In particular, Invest in and support community public access facilities such as telecommunication centers or local radio stations in order to ensure access for all and the creation of locally relevant content; Include and support capacity building components in all ICT activities, starting from infra-structure, its operation and maintenance, to government and regulatory authorities, private service providers, and end-users.
5. It is recommended that African Governments and their international partners create and support enabling environments, consisting of both ICT-specific regulatory frameworks and an overall policy framework that promotes sound economic and political governance. In particular,
Improve ICT governance and affordability by ensuring freedom of expression, providing a competitive framework for the application of ICT, ensuring compliance through independent regulation and favoring low-cost, technology-neutral and open source solutions;
Link the creation of an enabling ICT environment to national planning and strategic frame-works, including performance monitoring and dialogue processes.
Boosting Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction
6. For more than a decade, information and communication technologies (ICT)1 have been attributed a key role in both economic growth and poverty reduction. They increase efficiency, provide access to new markets or services, create new opportunities for income generation and give poor people a voice. And while considerable improvements have been achieved in Africa with respect to certain aspects of ICT – including the spread of mobile telephony and an increasing number of national ICT strategies as well as regional initiatives – there are still areas where improvement is needed in order for Africa as a whole to be able to take advantage of the benefits of ICT.
7. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how Africa and the international community can ad-dress the challenges presented by the current situation in Africa. The situation is characterized by its complexity and diversity. This stems from the fast developments and transformations in the dynamic field of ICT; the numerous initiatives; and the diversity of stakeholders, including the G8; the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA); the International Telecommunication Union (ITU); other UN organisations; international net-works such as the Global Knowledge Partnership; various non-governmental organisations (NGOs); research centres; bilateral donor agencies; development banks and many private sector actors. Fur-thermore, the situation in Africa varies significantly between the North and South as well as within countries and regions, which demands specific interventions rather than “one-size-fits-all” approaches.
Africa is on a growth path which is becoming more broad-based.2 In 2007, for the fourth consecutive year Africa’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate exceeded 5%. Twenty-five countries achieved a GDP growth rate of above 5% in 2007, and another 14 countries grew at a rate between 3% and 5%. High prices for commodities, increased remittances and policy reforms which have stimulated foreign direct investment (FDI) are the main drivers. However, the growth path is still fragile as diversification of African economies is generally low.
10. Sustainable economic growth is the result of an interplay of a number of factors, among them governance performance, physical infrastructure, skilled human resources, access to technology, and an enabling policy environment. Furthermore, effective information and communication processes are a prerequisite for any economy. While ICT play a role in all of these areas, isolated investment in ICT does not permit leapfrogging to higher growth rates. Nevertheless, as a key part of development strategies, mainstreaming ICT in the productive sectors “is a matter of economic survival” as the Chennai Statement on Up-scaling Pro-Poor ICT Policies and Practices notes.3 In the words of NEPAD: “Better connectivity offers the prospect for African countries to transform their economies.
The cost of doing business in Africa remains high, reducing potentially achievable growth rates. Unreliable infrastructure is a major reason for high transaction costs in a majority of African countries. Indirect costs are a greater burden than in China and India. However, as the graph below shows, there is again considerable difference among African countries. Better power, transport and ICT infrastructure will enhance productivity and efficiency and increase employment.
Mobile coverage in Africa