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Africa to enjoy ICT boom

afrol News, 31 October - The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) plans to interconnect all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure and strengthen connectivity by 2015 means the continent is few years from enjoying ICT boom.

The plan will be jointly executed by International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The boom was disclosed by the AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, and the ITU Secretary-General, Hamadoun Touré, at the Connect Africa Summit in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

"In recent years, private investment in ICT infrastructure, especially in mobile phone networks, has had an enormous impact in many parts of Africa, but major gaps remain,” Kaberuka said, in a news release, saying development banks and other financing partners have a responsibility to step in where gaps are holding back development in the region.

ITU Secretary General said the solution for African development is not charity. Rather, he said, "African countries need modern, reliable broadband ICT infrastructure to attract investment for jobs and economic growth. This is about economic independence and strengthening Africa’s competitive position in the global economy."

The two institutions have agreed to close the ICT broadband infrastructure between major centres in Africa through active mobilisation of partners and financing.

AfDB hosts the Secretariat of the African Infrastructure Consortium, which brings together major donors and financial institutions active in the region. This group plays a crucial role in the financing of projects, as well as in ensuring a coherent approach among those involved.

"The Bank aims to stimulate economic growth and climate and facilitate economic integration. We want to make the economies of Africa more competitive, and therefore AfDB is committing to the development of information and communication technology across the continent," Kaberuka said.

ITU will not only serve as an executing agency that supports the implementation of ICT infrastructure projects funded by the AfDB or other interested financing partners, it has agreed to provide telecommunications expertise and technical assistance when the need arises. It is also expected to mobilise its base of more than 650 sector members, including many leading ICT industry players.

The two partners will jointly undertake feasibility studies and develop project proposals in consultation with member states and other stakeholders in the region. This will serve as support for the new ICT infrastructure investments.

AfDB and ITU will also work together to promote wider integration of ICT with other major infrastructure investments. This is expected to include laying broadband fibre alongside transport and energy projects as well as encouraging innovative infrastructure sharing approaches among telecommunication/ICT operators.

They further agreed to assist countries to develop policies and regulations to encourage new ICT infrastructure investments.

ITU organises regional and worldwide exhibitions and forums that bring together the most influential representatives of government and the telecommunications industry to exchange ideas, knowledge and technology for the benefit of the global community, and in particular the developing world.

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