International models on how to boost the development of the ICT sector in Africa are set to come under the spotlight during the inaugural four-day ICT INDABA that will be held from 4th to 7th in June at the Cape Town Convention Centre.
The event is aimed at formulating an African Agenda to promote ICT as a primary tool to spur social and economic development throughout the continent. It is organised by the Department of Communications and endorsed by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations’ leading information and technology agency with 193 member states and 700 associates. It is envisaged that it will be held annually for the next five years.
The ICT INDABA 2012 has identified six critical sectors in driving the ICT as a tool for development: Education; Health; Infrastructure; Agri Business; Trade and Extractive Industries.
Hundreds of international delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America, business people leading ICT companies and government representatives are some of the participants at the ICT INDABA. And African Union Regulators from more than 50 countries on the continent have also been invited.
The ICT INDABA will take place under themes “Connecting Africa to Development with ICTs” and Bridging the Digital Divide. Among other topics, it will look at “Digital Africa: A Vision for the Future and Preparing Skills and Create Jobs that will enable the Emergence of the Knowledge Economy.”
One of the keynote speakers will be Mr Houlin Zhao, the ITU’s Deputy Secretary General, who will present a paper “The Powerful Dynamic Role of ICTs in Socio-economic Development.”
Under the theme of Digital Africa – A Vision for Africa, a session is to be devoted to on “Developing Smart Cities in the African Context.” Mr Vijay Tharumartnam of Multi Development Corporation will speak on the Malaysian Silicon Valley Experience. There will also be presentations on Bangalore, Indian’s Silicon Valley, Mexico’s Guadalajara and Egypt.
Four speakers from Rwanda, China, India, and Cuba will present papers on the development models under the theme of “Sourcing, Building and Retaining the necessary Skills Force for a robust ICT Industry.”
Miche Bezy, the associate director of Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda, will focus on a case study on “How Rwanda is currently training a globally competitive ICT skills base.”
Dr Jun Xia, of School of Economics and Management at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, will speak about the Chinese Model of “Advancing Rural Development through ICTs.”
The Indian Model will look at how to conceptualise and run “eSkills Development Programme in Developing countries” while the Cuban Model will share experiences for “Producing Industry-ready Graduates.”
One of the highlights of the first day is a session on Crystal Ball Exercise with Technology Gurus that will feature eight international experts from several countries. They will discuss a number of strategies including “How technology will shape Africa and the world within the next 15-20 years and “What should African entrepreneurs focus to capitalize on coming opportunities.”
The speakers on this topic include Andile Ngcaba, the chairman of Dimension Data; Shig Okaya, the Director of Japan Science and Agency; Alfred Watkins, the Executive Chairman of Global \Innovation Summit (Silicon Valley) Sam Mensah, the Africa Director of Intel Capital and Zaki Khoury, the Regional Head of Microsoft Middle East and Africa.
Some of the sessions will focus on “Critical policies that must be accelerated to advance Africa’s Knowledge-based Economy; “Connected Brilliance: Broadband Connectivity for access to content and faster communications” and “Developing Clusters to drive local ICT Industry development”.
Another key session will focus on “Using the Africa Infrastructure Development Corridor as a basis for integrated ICT Initiatives”. Participants will include speakers from the World Bank and African Development Bank.
A Ministerial Forum involving African ministers will reflect on some of the key components of the ICT Indaba including innovations across Africa, the challenges and opportunities facing the continent. Other discussion points will include:
International Connectivity: Development, challenges and constraints
Funding and investment in Broadband: A platform for the growth of the Information Society and Knowledge economy in Africa
Building productive capacity to become Information Society and Knowledge Economy in Africa
Africa Infrastructure for Telecommunications, Broadcasting for the Internet keeping regional traffic regional, and
Building on Regional Development Initiatives: Connect Africa
Communications Minister Ms. Dina Pule said the ICT INDABA sought to ensure the ICT sector played its role as primary enablers of economic growth and job creation, not only in South but throughout the continent.