Saturday, October 20, 2007

Connecting Africa & Media

I have been reading a fascinating site put up by Fibre for Africa which alerted me to the ‘Connect Africa’ Summit which will take place in Kigali, Rwanda on October 29-30 2007, under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID). The ITU has labelled the Summit a ‘Marshall Plan for ICT infrastructure development in Africa’ (not sure the Marshall Plan is such a good term for it myself, too many political overtones) Whatever they call it, the conference underlines the recognition by the Connect Africa initiative of the critical importance of developing ICT infrastructure to enable Africa to join the Information Society.

Among the key concerns of Connect Africa are that Internet services needed for business, government and consumer applications continue to be either very expensive or not available due to limited broadband network infrastructure; and that rural connectivity and access remain inadequate as does the availability of locally relevant content, applications and services.

This paper outlines some of the issues that need to be addressed for the vision of boosting connectivity in Africa to be realised. They correctly point out that extra bandwidth into the region would allow many countries to do more of the outsourced work from other continents that is currently going to Asia. Also, radio stations could make much more use of each other's material if they had better Internet access between African countries. In Europe, we assume that just because countries are next to each other that they are communicating. But in Africa (and in much of Europe come to think of it), it is just not true.

Fibre for Africa is an interesting site. I just wish they would upgrade the logo to show an energy saving bulb....I see them all over West Africa in my travels, more frequently than in Northern Europe.
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