ICT is a critical part of infrastructure in Africa on a par with water and energy, and must be developed, said leaders from the region this month. They highlighted infrastructural issues as they unveiled an initiative to bolster infrastructure across the African continent.
Leaders meeting in Kampala, Uganda called for more funding to help bolster ICT, water, energy, and transport. They launched the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa
(PIDA), which is a project designed to develop master plans for infrastructural improvement at a continental level.
The officials launching the project came from the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission, and the New Partnership for Africa's Develoment (NEPAD), an organisation dedicated to improving Africa's part in the globalisation process. They were speaking at the African Private Sector Forum
, an event held alongside the 15th African Union Heads of State and Government Summit.
Ugandan vice president Gilbert Bukenya said that African economies can only grow if the private sector grows too, paving the way for socio-economic transformation. In particular, delegates said that economic conditions must be created for ICT-focused businesses to flourish.
Underpinning the need for better ICT infrastructure was a call for a better energy grid. Habib Kagimu Tamoil, East Africa Chair, said that electricity must improve to be cheap and reliable.
Certain countries in Africa have been busily attempting to bolster their ICT infrastructure. Rwanda in particular, in a bid to leapfrog industrialisation and move quickly into an information economy, launched a 20-year plan to develop its ICT sector in 2000. It has been trying to transform its economy by developing indigenous ICT companies.
South Africa is also attempting to position itself as a destination for outsourcing, which is something that will require a robust ICT infrastructure. And Google, eager to capitalise on emerging markets, has a broad plan to push its advertising-driven services, including Google Apps, into sub-Saharan Africa, taking advantage of the region's population, which numbered 800 million in 2007. Such efforts will also require a solid information technology base.