I was therefore not surprised that discussions on these issues dominated the 2013 European Union (EU)-Africa cooperation conference on ICT in Addis Ababa this week (2-3 December).
The conference started in an exceptional style. EU-Africa stakeholders in both the private and public sectors gathered at the African Union (AU) Conference Centre with an emphasis on networking, knowledge sharing and consensus building.
Africa was hailed for making concerted efforts to develop ICT. However, it was observed that a number of gaps still exist as far as ICT development is concerned in Africa. But the main challenges observed in Africa were inadequate funding, inadequate infrastructure and cyber insecurity.
A heated debate came up when African experts called for European countries to involve more African people in European-funded ICT initiatives on the continent. Francis Tusubira, the chief executive officer of UbuntuNet Alliance, Uganda, said: We need African-based agendas, by Africans, and for Africa. He challenged African researchers to lead the change for ICT development in Africa, especially in matters of basic technology and upcoming technological developments.
Some African experts advised against over-reliance on donor funding and donor-driven agendas to achieve sustainable development. However, other experts disagreed, arguing that Africa is not yet capable of being self-reliant and therefore still needs donor funding.
The conference observed that one of the opportunities of being connected is the broader visibility to people and nations.
Africa was again urged to use ICT as an opportunity for transformation. Moctar Yedaly, head of the Information Society Division, AU-Ethiopia, said Africa should not miss the turn of technology like it did at the turn of industrialisation more than a century ago.
Looking into the future of Africas ICTs, I agree that there is a need for strong and smarter partnerships, especially between the government and the private sector. Also, the development of strategies and policies should involve all the players, including ICT hubs.
Finally, the participants were encouraged to share success stories of innovations used locally and to create civic awareness on how to use ICT.
This article has been produced by SciDev.Nets Sub-Saharan Africa desk.