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Africa Must Use ICT To Drive Development 

By Walter Wilson Nana In Harare, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prime Minister, Prof. Arthur Mutambara, has said ICT is at the epicentre of the Africa’s growth and development. Prof. Arthur Mutambara was speaking to stakeholders in the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, at the opening ceremony of an International Conference on ICT for Africa 2013 in the Cresta Lodge, Harare. He said the ICT revolution is a game changer, adding that things cannot be same again in Africa.

Prof Mutambara appreciates gift from Prof Chumbow

“ICT affects every sector of our life. Africa must be competitive in all its facets of life and how we can use ICT to drive Africa’s competiveness, attract investors via ICT, develop it, customise it and stop being consumers of ICT,” Prof. Mutambara said. According to Mutambara, Africans must be participants in the construction and not observers in the process of ICT, especially ICT that is relevant to us.

He told the delegates who came from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cameroon, Mali, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia and the USA, that Africans should use ICT to close the gap between the poor and the rich, the north and the south, making it the tool that turns the education, banking, agriculture, the economy and more.

“We can’t fight technology, we’ve to catch up,” he said. Mutambara called for a change of mentality in all that is done across Africa, citing reasons why certain laws have to be revised, so as to be on the edge of new technology, which is now revolutionalising the world.

“How are we going to be in 10 years vis-a-vis the ICT? Let’s use it to drive agriculture, move up the value chain by leveraging ICT, Science and Technology,” he noted. He challenged ICT practitioners, academics, students, government officials, members of the industrial sector to make the lessons from the south to the north, saying the mental poverty in the south should be the unique opportunity to highlight the hindsight that is not known of Africa.

Mutambara cautioned that the conference should not end up in another talk shop, but entreated participants to take their responsibilities and work in synergy for a defined timeline. “Africans must work together and develop their countries, with the use of data being at the fore in all we do thanks to the ICT revolution,” said the Deputy Prime Minister. Zimbabwean Minister of ICT, Nelson Chamisa said Africa should no longer be importing computers.

“We should make them. We should consolidate and strategise on more ideas,” he said.
Chamisa urged governments across Africa to move very fast on the ICT developments as they do in other sectors. The Director of the International Centre for Information Technology & Development, ICITD USA, and President of ICT University Cameroon, Prof. Victor Mbarika, talked about the need for more PhDs to be obtained in the ICT revolution.

Prof. Gabriel Kabanda of the host university, the National University of Science & Technology, Zimbabwe, found the conference to be an enrichment exercise that goes beyond the classroom to the society and the industrial sector. He enjoined African researchers to pursue dialogue on the ICT affairs.

Keynote Address

In a keynote address, Prof. Sammy Beban Chumbow, Vice Chancellor of the ICT University in Yaounde, said “Africa must catch up with the knowledge economy, which is knowledge production, knowledge management, knowledge dissemination and knowledge appropriation.”
According to Prof. Chumbow, African countries have the obligation to create knowledge economy, with focus on national development.

“The context of development must have at its centre language and communication. These are crucial since knowledge is power and a condition for national development,” he said. The varsity don posited that communication is important to get people aware in the process of a new idea and appropriation of knowledge.

He cited participative development and some graphic examples to demonstrate how they are part of the component of development communication. Other speakers in the conference presented papers in the areas of; ICT & Development, ICT in Education & E-learning, ICT, Development & Poverty Reduction, ICT, Media & Journalism, Innovation, Open-source & Software Development and ICT in Healthcare.

The ICT for Africa Conference is an annual initiative that brings together stakeholders of the educational and industrial sectors in Africa, with the aim of reflecting on how to transfer, diffuse and adopt the ICTs within the African context. From Harare, the ICT for Africa caravan moves to Nairobi, Kenya in 2014.

First published in The Post print edition no 01411

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