The African continent can become a participant in the global economy by focusing on ICT to address the most pressing social challenges, accelerate growth and improve synergies between nations.
ICT is a driving force for growth.
In Africa, 2015 will be dedicated to Information and Communications Technology. The experts at International Data Corporation (IDC), a worldwide leader, in studies and research in the ICT sector, are certain of this fact. According to their forecasts, Africa is on the cusp of a crucial turning point, that will transform its role on the international stage forever and for the better. The primary factor instrumental in making this boom a reality has been the innovations in the field of telecommunications. “The recent ICT trend,” said Mark Walker, regional director for Africa at IDC, “is having a strong impact on growth, by modernizing and optimizing across the economy and facilitating inter-African trade.”
The focal point will be to guarantee access to low cost internet facilities to the majority of the population, including the rural areas of the continent in the network. Rural areas have some of the highest levels of poverty but it is here the potential for development is greatest.
Social challenges and new technologies.
This process of socio-economic development focused on ICT, however, must be accompanied by and enhanced through targeted action by individual governments. Investment in infrastructure is needed, both public and private, in addition to policies to keep abreast of technological innovations, as well as the ability to think on an international scale.
The tools provided by ICT can be used to address some of the most pressing social challenges Africa is facing. It applies to, for example, education and educational services. In a continent where large sections of the population live in areas lacking in infrastructure and who often do not have access to basic education, e-learning and distance education initiatives can bring about a real “cultural revolution”. A similar argument can be made in the health sector, with many African countries (such as Malawi) already experimenting with the possible application of new technologies to improve public health. Important contributions provided by ICT innovations to an economy can already be seen in areas such as the public water supply or in the development of cross-border trade relations.