Egypt, South Africa link up for telecoms development
afrol News / Highway Africa News, 4 May
- Countries at the tips of South and North of Africa linked up this weekend with a cooperation agreement between two university-based technology research centres in South Africa and Egypt, respectively. Egyptian and South African telecom researchers and developers are to head the continent's technology advancement.
The partnership is between telecoms-related institutes attached to the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban (South Africa), and Cairo University. The signing of the cooperation memorandum is timed to coincide with the Africa Telecom conference, now taking place in the Egyptian capital.
As a result of the agreement, there will be visits, video-conferences and joint projects to pool the power of the two bodies in developing Information and Communication Technologies for Africa, the two universities announced in Cairo.
South Africa's Telkom and Alcatel are the driving forces behind the University of KwaZulu-Natal's eight-year-old Centre of Excellence in Wireless Radio Technologies, which signed the agreement for the South African side.
The Egyptian partner is the Digital Communications System Centre of Excellence, which is based within Cairo University's Development Research and Social Technology Planning Centre - a 25-year-old facility that does market-driven research and consultancy.
At a signing ceremony in Cairo, the South African Centre's head Professor, Fambirai Takawiri, said his 40 post-graduate students were researching what he calls "forth generation" wireless Internet. These would allow speeds of 100 megabits a second, compared to third generation rates of 2 megabits a second.
His counterpart in Cairo, Professor Osman Lofty El Sayed, said that the start of the partnership was an important example of South-South cooperation. "It brings universities into development issues and co-operation with industry," Mr El Sayed said.
South Africa Telkom's chief technology officer, Reuben September, told the occasion that the South African centre was one of 14 supported by Telkom. "We need solutions on a continental scale," he said. The partnership symbolised northern and southern Africa wrapping arms around a continent that shared similar problems. "We need our collective power and a synergistic approach to resolve these problems," he said.
Referring to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), Mr September emphasised that this continental initiative would not succeed if it stayed only with governments. It needed levels such as the partnership evident in the memorandum of cooperation.
Alcatel South Africa's CEO, Thoko Mokgosi, said her company's involvement with the South African university Centre was driven by the quest for African technology solutions and to build skills for the sector. Alkatel had contributed rand 3 million (euro 360,000) to the centre in KwaZulu-Natal and would continue to support it, said Ms Mokgosi.
- What's in it for Alcatel? she asked, giving the answer herself. "The answer is that if you don't help build solutions and skills, you may as well be outside the industry."
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