Information and Communications Technologies for African Development

An Assessment of Progress and the Challenges Ahead

Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
An Assessment of Progress and the Challenges Ahead

Edited with Introduction by

Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr. Ph.D.
President & CEO, Telecom Africa Corporation

Preface by

José María Figueres
Chairman, UN ICT Task Force

A Publication of the United Nations ICT Task Force

Copyright © 2003 United Nations ICT Task Force All rights reserved. Except for use in a review, the reproduction or utilisation of this work or part of it in any form or by electronics, or other means now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying, and recording, and in any information storage, transmission or retrieval system, including CD-Rom, online or via the Internet, is forbidden without the written permission of the publishers. Book Production by Third Press Publishers, 222 Forest Avenue, New Rochelle, New York USA 10804 Interior Design & Typesetting by Desktop Miracles, Stowe, Vermont The views expressed in this book are those of their individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the United Nations ICT Task Force, the United Nations itself, any of its organs or agencies, nor of any other organisations or institutions mentioned or discussed in this book, including the organisations to which the authors are affiliated. The United Nations ICT Task Force One United Nations Plaza New York, New York 10017


I wish to acknowledge and thank Mr. Sarbuland Khan, the Director of the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, Dr. Pekka Tarjanne, the Executive Director of the UN ICT Task Force and Dr. Sergei Kambalov, Deputy Executive Coordinator, and the Secretariat of the UN ICT Task Force, for the opportunity to put together this volume, which defines with clarity the way forward for the deployment of information and communications technology for Africa’s development. Thanks are also due to Nema Elsayed, Sireen Hajj and Begi Hersutanto, interns at the Task Force Secretariat, for their input, especially in assisting in compiling the Appendix on very short notice; and to Jim Eshinger, Senior Graphic Designer, Department of Public Information, United Nations, for indulging me in creating for this book a cover design, which attempts to capture at a glance, the various forces that Africa seeks to simultaneously master, and their graphic juxtaposition. The image of Africa rising above the clouds is how I see the pulse of our continent, and the spirit that is emerging from deep inside the people of Africa today. I also wish to thank all the contributors to this volume for the priviledge and pleasure of the opportunity to bring their ideas together under one cover, so that together we can provide an extraordinary compendium, which I am confident will serve a wide range of strategic and v

vi ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development intellectual purposes. Their graciousness in responding to our impossible deadline will always be remembered. Special thanks are due His Excellency, Mr. Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations for his leadership and passion for placing ICT in the service of development, and especially to advance his Millennium Development Goals. Special thanks also to my friend, H. E. José María Figueres, Chairman of the UN ICT Task Force, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum and former President of the Republic of Costa Rica. His passion for engaging the promise of ICT in aid of Africa’s development, a passion which I have had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand in enlightened dialogue, provides a refreshing input to the concerted response to the African challenge. I have reserved particular acknowledgement, thanks and special gratitude to Ms. Enrica Murmura of the UN ICT Task Force Secretariat, to Ms. Josephine Ofili, General Manager at Telecom Africa Corporation and Assistant Editor of our sister company, Third Press Publishers, and Ms. Carletta Burch for support and for their indefatigable efforts against all odds for the publication of this volume in a timely manner. The individual contributors wish to acknowledge and thank all those who provided support, assistance, and encouragement for their contributions. Permit me to add my vote of thanks to theirs.


Preface by José María Figueres, Chairman, UN ICT Task Force Information And Communication Technologies: A Priority For Africa’s Development—A Statement by Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations Information and Communications Technologies as a Tool for African Self-Development: Towards a Re-Definition of Development
J O S E P H O . O K PA K U , S R .





Chapter One

Background on Information and Communications Technologies for Development in Africa
J O S E P H O . O K PA K U , S R .


Chapter Two

Restoring Africa’s National Space


Chapter Three

The Current Status of Information and Communications Technologies in Africa


Chapter Four

Information and Communications Technologies in the Service of Development: The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
H . E . A B D O U L AY E W A D E



viii ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Chapter Five

The United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force


Chapter Six

Information and Communication Technologies as an Instrument to Leverage the Millennium Development Goals


Chapter Seven

The Role of Information and Communications Technologies in the African Development Agenda
J O S E P H O . O K PA K U , S R .


Chapter Eight

Regional Information and Communications Technologies Developments in Africa— The AISI Perspective


Chapter Nine

Info-communication for Development in Africa: The African Connection Initiative


Chapter Ten

Africa’s Digital Rights


Chapter Eleven

Building the Digital Bridge—-Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies
J O S E P H O . O K PA K U , S R .


Chapter Twelve

Digital Bridge to Africa: The Digital Diaspora Network for Africa



Chapter Thirteen

Tip-toeing Across the Digital Divide: African Entrepreneurs Applying, Adapting and Advancing Appropriate Information Technologies
C R O C K E R S N O W, J R .


Contents ✦ ix
Chapter Fourteen

From Technology Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Technological Capabilities: Lessons from African ICT Firms


Chapter Fifteen

Towards a Road Map for Information and Communications Technology Development in Africa
J O S E P H O . O K PA K U , S R .


Appendix I Appendix II

UN ICT Task Force Initiatives in Africa Shortlist of ICT for Development Initiatives in Africa

299 303 331 337

Notes on Contributors Index


José María Figueres
Chairman, United Nations ICT Task Force

The information revolution has not only changed the world as we know it, but also its future potential. Information and Communication Technologies, with their major technological leaps, have affected the lives and lifestyles of people across the globe, as well as the way institutions and organisations do business. In their wake, jobs have been created, businesses expanded, and life for many people has improved. However, not all outcomes of the spread of information technologies have been positive. A majority of the world’s population, especially those who live in poverty, have been largely bypassed by this revolution. Least developed nations, and rural societies, in particular, are in danger of falling further behind in this information age. The gap between them and the rest of the world has expanded precisely as a result of the facilitating capacity of these technologies for those who have access to them. Nowhere is this digital divide more pronounced than in countries of the African continent. Africa is the most unconnected, in an increasingly connected world. Yet, given the broad spectrum of development xi

xii ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development challenges, including fighting diseases, famine and poverty while striving for socio-economic, technological and industrial development and the promotion of its vast material and intellectual resource and cultural heritage for global competitiveness, ICTs offer a remarkable opportunity and set of tools for achieving substantive progress. It is in recognition of this unique opportunity to support Africa’s drive for self-development that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency, Mr. Kofi Annan, in creating the United Nations ICT Task Force, called on its members and the global ICT community at large, to mobilise all available resources through a holistic public/private partnership to deploy the full range of ICT capacities in pursuit of the UN Millennium Development Goals. From its inauguration, the Task Force, assisted by the United Nations system, has joined forces with leading African experts in the ICT field, African political leaders and their global counterparts, regional and international development institutions, and, most especially, the public, private and academic sectors, and civil society, in Africa and abroad, in a concerted effort to respond to the Secretary-General’s clarion call. In doing so, the Task Force has taken its cue from the priorities and targets Africans have themselves established for their countries in this enormous undertaking. A major part of this effort has involved taking stock of what is, what needs to be, and the strategies and scenarios for making it happen. This has engendered an exciting and highly productive and positive debate and dialogue aimed at ensuring maximum benefit from every bit of deployable resources, for the good of all. Information and Communications Technology for African Development: An Assessment of Progress and the Challenges Ahead captures the essence of this intellectual process, combining history, analyses, strategies, programmes and activities in a comprehensive compendium on the state of play on technology for development. It brings together in one volume, the best thinking on the prospect and promise of ICT deployment for Africa’s development and the strategies for their accomplishment.

Preface ✦ Figueres ✦ xiii

For this reason, this book makes invaluable reading. I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone involved in African development, not only those interested in ICT for development, and most especially, those interested in realizing Africa’s aspiration to rapidly take its rightful place in the comity of nations and peoples, with pride, dignity and equanimity.


H. E. Kofi A. Annan
Secretary-General of the United Nations

Information And Communication Technologies:
A Priority For Africa’s Development

On several occasions, the Secretary-General of the United Nations has seized the opportunity of the presence of key players and potential partners to advocate a global collective effort to deploy the versatile applications of Information and Communications Technologies in support of Africa’s development efforts. One such address was to the Opening of the third meeting of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 30, 2002. Following is the text of the statement. The past year has been marked by a great surge in the United Nations effort to build international consensus around the central goals of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The Monterrey Conference and the Johannesburg Summit have laid out an internationally agreed agenda for action by all key partners—governments, multilateral institutions, the private sector and civil society at large. xv

xvi ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Great hopes have been raised. The challenge now is to translate them into reality. Unfortunately, the past year has also witnessed deterioration in the world economy. Growth has been uncertain and irregular in most regions. Foreign investment has fallen sharply The telecom and information sectors—which have always been pioneers in exploring not only new technologies, but also new avenues of growth and investment— have themselves suffered a sharp and persistent decline. There is a vast potential for investment growth in the developing countries. Information and communication technologies (ICT) can help us turn this potential into concrete opportunities that will help the poor work their way out of poverty while, at the same time, benefiting the world community as a whole. I am pleased that the Task Force has decided to place special emphasis, at this meeting, on ICT for development in Africa. Nowhere are the needs more acute than in that part of the world. ICT is a chance for Africa. It is not, of course, a magic formula that is going to solve all the problems. But it is a powerful tool for economic growth and poverty eradication, which can facilitate the integration of African countries into the global market. By making the development of ICT one of the priorities of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, African leaders have shown that they are committed to seize the opportunities of the digital revolution. But bridging the digital divide, in Africa and elsewhere, is a formidable task that requires not only leadership, but also a major commitment of resources. With innovations such as wireless fidelity—commonly known as Wi-Fi—and other low-cost technologies and business models that are now being explored, we should aim to provide cheap, fast and, eventually, free access to the Internet. But investments will still be necessary, not only to ensure that people have the technical skills and the literacy level needed to use information technology facilities and service them, but also to create content that reflects the interests of that part of the world.

Information and Communication Techologies ✦ Annan ✦ xvii

Clearly, if we are to succeed, the process must engage all stakeholders: donors, the private sector, civil society organisations, governments, and especially those in the developing world itself. The Millennium Development Goals, adopted by the world community at the highest level, should help rally all stakeholders around a common agenda. ICT is a powerful instrument for speeding up the realisation of these goals, and the Task Force can play an important role in building alliances for action. Indeed, it has already done a great deal of work to forge such coalitions. And it is working effectively with other international initiatives— including the G–8 Dot Force—to define a shared agenda for action. I applaud the dedication and the commitment of the Chairman of the Task Force, and of all its members, who have laid the necessary groundwork for action in less than a year. Now is the time to think of partnerships and initiatives for concrete programmes and projects that will make a difference on the ground. Why not concentrate on a few key areas where specific information technology programmes and projects could be undertaken and then replicated? I am sure you have many ideas on how information technology can have an impact on development issues, from poverty eradication, to health, education and the advancement of women. I look forward to the results of your discussions. Be assured that you can count on my full support and personal commitment to your success.


Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr. Ph.D.
President and CEO, Telecom Africa Corporation

Information and Communications Technologies as Tools for African Self-Development
Towards a Re-Definition of Development

Towards a New Definition of Development The quintessential dream of any group of peoples or nations is the pursuit of self-actualisation in a structure and context in which they are in full command of their destiny and own the means and processes by which they seek to attain that goal. The correlative responsibility and obligation of their leadership is to mastermind the strategies for such an effort, in close consort with the people. This involves identifying, defining and mobilising their combined talent and resources, creating a context and environment most conducive to the maximum realisation of the goal, setting significant targets and the indicators for self-monitoring, and systematically quantifying and highlighting cumulative achievements for the purpose of periodic review and reinforcement. 1

2 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The context of that dream, the compelling condition which the people seek to alter, the pursuit of the promise of new and better, more rewarding or simply more exciting conditions, is what constitutes society’s challenge. The response to that challenge, the mobilisation of resources and the galvanisation of a collective genius in an effort to propel society over the hill of challenge to the valley or plain fields of resolution beyond, to new vistas and new conditions, is what I would call “development”. Cast differently, I would say that development is simply the process of problem solving or responding to new challenges with a view to mastering them. In this light, problems constitute a key and necessary ingredient of development. Without problems, there is nothing to solve. Without challenges, there is nothing to master, at least in the context of this discourse. Without problems and challenges, therefore, there can be no development, because the necessary ingredient for it is absent. By this definition, development is a process, the very process of problem solving. Peoples and societies that do not engage in the process of problem solving can, ipso facto, not be said to engage in a development process. This holds true even if their condition, material or otherwise, undergoes substantial transformation in the relevant period in question. Because such material changes are, if you will, attributes or the outcome of a process essentially masterminded by people and institutions outside of the subject society, they constitute the development of those who undertook the process, not of those presumed to be the beneficiaries of the process, unless they themselves are the prime actors in driving the process. What this means is that if a group of people or institutions not directly involved in the problem to be solved, undertakes the process of developing a solution, it is those who undertake the process who have achieved development, not the presumed beneficiaries of the end result. Societies without problems or challenges are, almost by definition, intellectually moribund, guaranteed to decline in a process of incurable atrophy. The pace of such decline would depend on the residual intellectual reserve it had garnered from when last it was gainfully engaged in the process of its own

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 3

transformation, and the comparative condition of its immediate and global contexts. In this regard, I am compelled to postulate that, to the extent that much of what has taken place in the development process as it pertains to Africa, has been masterminded and executed primarily outside the command and control of Africans, it is only these non-Africans who can legitimately be said to have experienced development because it is they who have undertaken and undergone these processes of development. Africans then, the inventory of the results of such processes notwithstanding, would have been little more than spectators at the arena of development, observers on the sidelines of history, watching the process of transformation to which they have lent their name, with little or no substantive intellectual, psychological or emotional gain or advancement from the process. Problems and their close relatives, which we call challenges, if they constitute the necessary ingredient of the development process, then become, in their purest form, critical assets, strategic assets, top amongst the most important assets in the development of any group of nations or peoples. Innovation, Development, Problem Solving and the Search for Knowledge While I have postulated that innovation and development are a direct outcome of problem solving, there are those who argue that innovation and development need not focus on problem solving, but arise out of people seeking knowledge. We can close the seeming gap by simply understanding that even the search for knowledge is fundamentally an effort at problem solving. Whether the problem in question is material, critical, philosophical, artistic or seemingly esoteric, is simply a matter of specificity. The distinction between the “pure sciences” and “applied sciences”, “pure mathematics” and “applied mathematics”, which used to dominate the science curriculum in my school days, were an attempt to make this distinction. All pursuit of knowledge has a fundamental

4 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development motive or motivation, and that motive or motivation, I would argue, is more often than not conceptualised as a problem to be solved. The Right of Ownership of Problems If problems are critical strategic assets, the response to which is the process of development, then the notion of the right of ownership of problems becomes a significant issue. If I need my problems to stimulate or compel me to engage in a problem-solving process, which constitutes my development, then I must, in some way, protect that right of ownership as a way of protecting my right to develop. The implications of this are potentially vast and inherently controversial. There is no room to detail this argument here, except to state that the right of ownership becomes a fundamental right in the realm of intellectual property rights. I have argued elsewhere that the importance of the notion of the right of ownership of problems rests on the fact that innovation is derived from problem solving. The opportunity for innovation and creativity is inherent in problem solving. If, therefore, you take over my problem, you cause me two problems: you deprive me of the opportunity to be innovative, and you leave me with the residual guilt of incompetence. And in taking over my problem and proffering a solution, should your solution fail, not only do you blame me, but my problem continues to fester and become more debilitating because I would have lost much precious time in the interim.1 The Value Inherent in Problems The deduction, therefore, that having problems is desirable, would not be too far-fetched. This value inherent, in a generic manner, in problems is what problem-solvers see as opportunities. One need only look at societies in their phases of quantum development to see the direct correlation between such development and the enormity of the problems and challenges they had to solve. For example, without problems to solve, the

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 5

United States of America would never have been able to achieve the great leaps of development it did in its hey day. In fact, the very essence of a Renaissance is the legacy of a new spirit of problem-solving and the search for knowledge, extreme self-confidence, and a shared feeling that nothing is really impossible, no problem cannot be solved with the right combination of intelligence, diligence, scientific excellence and relentless effort, all of this with an abundance of joie de vivre. The intellectual, social and cultural impact that all of this has on society is what gives Renaissance that quality of boundless outburst of talent, energy and creativity. It is not accidental that America and Americans often refer to their nation as “the land of opportunities”. “Response Capacity” as the Key to Self-Development But problems can overwhelm nations and societies much in the same way as they do individuals, families and communities. How then do we position ourselves with regard to the potential trauma of problems, which can overwhelm society? Although there is not sufficient space to exhaustively answer this question here, suffice it to say that the challenge in such problem situations comes not from the fact of the existence of the problems, but the shortfall in the response capacity of the society to meet them. Such response capacity would be the composite of society’s technological, intellectual, historical, psychological, religious, political, material, knowledge, and information capacities, and other capacities of specific relevance to the problems at hand. This would include the level of faith, self-confidence, drive, ambition and such other intangible assets and resources that society can draw on, and the extent to which its environment is conducive to problem solving. This last component, the conducive environment, would include internal synergy, coherence and common purpose, support systems nationally and within the regional, and continental and global environments. It would include the potential impact of enabling or debilitating international treaties, controls or practices, biases and prejudices.

6 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development In this paradigm, our perception and conceptualisation of the development process, of development assistance, take on a different outlook. This new definition, I humbly believe, is far more accurate in assisting us to understand the challenges of development. Furthermore, it holds much greater efficacy and prospects of realisation in a process which offers more respect and acknowledgement of the talents and resources of the concerned peoples, and their permanent and continuous capacity to not only effect self-development, but also to make their fair contribution to the development of all society and mankind. Notions of Poverty and Wealth and their Impact on Self-Development The notions of poverty and wealth take on a very different meaning and configuration in this new definition of development. This, in turn, has serious implications for how we prosecute the process of improving the quality of life for all the world’s peoples, and increasing the opportunities for the pursuit of self-actualisation. In listing some of the components of a people’s response capacity for solving their problems earlier, I included faith and self-confidence amongst the intangibles. These fall into what we might refer to in general as psychological response capacities. The very use of “rich” and “poor” nations as the dichotomous delineation of the world’s peoples has an inherent debilitating effect of incapacitating the so-called “poor”, which is a majority of the world’s population, through undermining their self-confidence, however inadvertent the process might be. The fact is that the labels do tend to stick, and with that comes the psychological impact on both those so labeled and those outside the category who observe or respond to them. It affects the ability to fairly and accurately identify and quantify the resources and capacities of those on the receiving side of this dichotomy; it suppresses or depresses their competitive capacity; it detracts from the authority of their opinion, even on matters that directly concern them or that any balanced assessment would have shown them to be the most

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 7

competent about the nature of their life’s challenges, for example, and how best to solve them. Overall, it produces a skewed perception of the world, its challenges and opportunities, and distorts the efficacious solutions to its problems, and the competencies and expertise required to address them. At the end of the day, this flawed paradigm leaves a majority of the world’s people as outsiders to the prosecution of human progress, including the prosecution of their own lives and legacies. The burden of this dichotomous delineation is not new. Before “rich” and “poor” nations, the dichotomy was “the haves” and “the havenots”. The history of this is extensive. “Developed” versus “Developing”, “First World” and “ Second World”, and when the evidence stacked up on the side of “Developing” became too unmanageable, a modification was made into a tripartite system in which the “Third World” emerged. The troubling discomfort of the over-crowding of this new category led to a new device, the “Least Developed Countries”, or LDCs. It is as certain as night follows day that new dichotomies are in the works. The Information and Communications Technologies sector of the development industry already has a handful, including “the connected” and “the unconnected”, the “digitally what-have-yous” and the “digitally whathave-you-nots” . Self-Confidence, Development and African ICT Experts To the extent that the most critical resource combination required for self-development is a common shared vision backed up with selfconfidence, self-esteem, commitment, and the determination to make it no matter how daunting the obstacles, any structure or approach that undercuts that self-confidence or self-esteem of a people invariably militates against their ability to develop, no matter how subtle the effect may be. This would suggest that the very construct we use to define the development challenge and how we portray the subject society and its people are integral and important components of how we position the prospects of success. This issue calls for attention, because a vast

8 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development number of highly qualified and capable Africans who would otherwise be key to the continent’s quantum development process remain outside the organised effort, either kept out of it by default, or keeping out of it themselves because the definition and portrayal of Africa, the African condition and the African challenge are anathema to their self-perception, and self-esteem.2 There are complex aspects of this issue, but this should suffice. Development Assistance and the Dynamics of the Development Industry Development assistance, then, becomes the disposition of that regional or international context and the impact of its systematic and systemic intervention to jumpstart, enhance or advance the internal process of problem solving by the societies in question. As such, it is a second-tier phase of intervention in the problem solving process, not the primary or first-tier phase, which, of necessity, must be designed and managed internally by the society seeking to develop itself.3 The creeping recognition of this compelling need to re-arrange the pecking order is the right and responsibility, indeed the authority, to mastermind Africa’s development, is suggested in the process by which the notion of “stakeholder” has entered the lexicon of development assistance. The content or substance of such systematic second-tier intervention would be the plethora of resources, which include funding, expert advice, investment, market opportunity, skills transfer, shared intellectual property and, above all, and most relevant to our preoccupation here, access to, and the exchange of, knowledge and information, and the intellectual processes that drive them, what we otherwise call intellectual property. The Intrinsic Benefits of Development—Defining the Horizon Map It is axiomatic that before embarking on any major enterprise such as would require tenacity and possible sacrifice, we should have a reasonable

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 9

idea of where we are going, what we are looking to achieve, and how to recognise both when we find them. In engaging in the development process, the potential benefits are diverse. Besides the material impact on the extent, range and quality of the amenities of life, such as improved infrastructure and utilities, increased income and the greater access which that brings, there are new or increased capacities resulting from the process of problem solving itself, which are very critical to creating the foundation for sustained and sustainable development. These outcomes resulting from engaging in the development process are what we essentially call intellectual property, in the broadest sense. They include new knowledge or new configurations of old knowledge, new or increased awareness, new ideas, innovation, artistic, literary and cultural expression and output, new technologies or applications, a heightened enthusiasm and self-confidence for driving the process farther into new and unknown territories, and more. All of this contributes to vastly improving the collective quality of life of the people, the collective competitive capacity, and, above all, a new level of equanimity, which forms the ingredient for peace and stability. This is the path development takes, one which is the way to creating domestic economic and political stability. An important product of this process is renewed and increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Information and Communications Technologies for Development Central to all of these issues are knowledge and information, their capacities, both inherent and catalytic to other capacities, and their extensive scope and versatility. For good or for bad, or even in-between, knowledge and information hold incredible potential for propelling the development process with reasonable promise of quantum achievement. The engine that drives the deployment of knowledge and information is what we collectively call Information and Communications Technologies, or ICTs. They are the pipes and mechanisms through which knowledge and information are packaged and transmitted, to be unbundled for deployment at the receiving end. By virtue of the vast

10 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development technologies and applications which have come to be (and are continuously being) developed through innovation, ICTs have become so important to virtually all aspects of life, activities and operations, from research and development to industrialisation, from health services to entertainment, from education to systems of governance, that they have become fundamental to basic life. In short, they have become a utility. It is this utility nature of information and communications technologies that makes them most critical to any strategy or configuration for Africa’s quantum development. Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Assessed in terms of its global reach, Africa’s existing capacity in ICT as represented by established skills and expertise is vast, much more vast than the world, and especially African policy makers, can imagine or dare to quantify. In its present form, it is diffused and dispersed, and essentially unquantified. This deficit in accurate information on Africa’s knowledge capacity in ICT has led to serious under-estimation of the substantial capacity in the hands and knowledge bank of Africans, which is more than sufficient to form the core of Africa’s strategic response capacity to the challenge of problem-solving; namely, their self-development capacity. One result of this presumption of the absence of substantial existing African capacity is the incredibly disproportionate percentage of ICT initiatives for Africa aimed at relatively low-level targets, actually at subsistence. Such a low-level target only sustains societies at that level and deprives the people of the true benefit and promise of ICTs, which is the opportunity and resource to undertake major development efforts which, in turn, would more than guarantee the quality of life for even the most deprived, as the forerunners at the forefront of that process cruise with confidence, purpose and focus towards the cutting edge. It is at this cutting edge, the venue for substantial innovation and the development of its corresponding intellectual properties, that the major wealth and

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 11

new capacities necessary for Africa’s irreversible transformation can be achieved. Every single African ICT and development expert knows this. Sadly, nobody else seems to (or cares to) know. Herein lies the strategic divide between African experts and the global development industry with respect to how to develop Africa. More often than not, African leaders and bureaucrats for a set of reasons too complex to analyse here, have in the past tended, by default, to end up on the side of the development industry, with disastrous results. If we follow the continuum of the development process that I have outlined above, the undesirable internal dichotomy within Africa, between the middle and professional class, on the one hand, and the masses on the other, begins to blur desirably, concurrent with the assumption of responsibility for the entire society by those who, through expertise and opportunity, can make the most use of ICTs for the good of all. Such a model is not only more efficacious, but is more truly representative of the norm in African society and culture. To a large extent, wealth has a vertical structure in African society, with most families consisting of the entire range, from the well-off to the most needy. The structure of family obligations in traditional Africa makes the pursuit of the collective advancement of the entire community a norm. The disruption of this model, through “modernisation”, has been a threat to reaping the benefits of this tradition for contemporary African development. Masterminding Africa’s Development Africans in all spheres, especially the private sector, must not just be equal players, but lead the strategic partnerships in all aspects of ICT development and deployment in Africa, including the following: • problem identification, definition, diagnosis and solution; • needs assessment; • resource identification, mobilisation and deployment;

12 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • • • • • • • • concept development, strategy and policy; technology development (especially research and development); testing; manufacturing; applications and software development; content development; systems design and integration; the building, maintenance and management of infrastructure and their operation; • the selection of appropriate technologies to meet each specific demand situation; and • the development of new technologies to provide more, better and more dedicated solutions that are more appropriate, utilise local materials and intellectual resources better, are cheaper, faster, and more durable and robust, and which create an advantage and competitive edge for Africa in the global industry and market. This is the only model that can generate the massive levels of resourceful and innovative self-development energy and collective commitment to communal self-actualisation necessary to eradicate the constraints and disabilities that hamstring Africa and Africans, and hold them back from achieving the quality of life and global competitive capacity necessary to take their rightful place in modern society. Towards an African Renaissance Only such a model will unleash, with sufficient thrust, the critical mass of African genius necessary to initiate and propel the Renaissance, which I have advocated for many years. It is the only level of popular mobilisation and self-expression capable of transforming Africa the way it must be, to free the talent and genius of its people to take flight into the far reaches of human possibilities in all spheres of existence.4 Crafting the engine of such a Renaissance will require a complete revision of the entire spectrum of social, economic, intellectual and

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 13

political development strategies. We will have to revise our educational policy and curriculum, the way we live and the way we see the world and interact with it, engaging it more vigorously with equal ownership, right and responsibility for its sustenance and its future. We will have to revise our visionary construct. We will have to support and promote our scholars, intellectuals, experts, as much in science and technology as in the arts, social sciences and the humanities, as our first tier team with the right and responsibility of first call on our strategic and business opportunities at all levels and in all sectors.5 This calls for a strategic paradigm shift in even the very way we govern ourselves, replacing the discredited governance of millions by a handful, with a more desirable and more mutually gratifying and sustainable governance of millions by millions, in a system in which everyone, even the youngest and the most frail, have a central and eminently recognised and acknowledged role to play in the development, protection and sustenance of all. This may also require that our leaders regain confidence and reliance on their own African experts. For African experts are truly all we have. At the end of the day, they will have to turn to their own Africans to build the partnership for self-development. The limelight of home is the light that matters. Home is where, in fact, it all matters, as, when the chips are down, it is to Africa and African experts in particular, that African leaders can count. Ironically, constructing such a new model Africa should not prove extraordinarily difficult, because it is little more than a return to the original structure of African society based on the pre-eminence of the extended family and its mutuality of care, concern and support. All we need to do, primarily, is to assign our scholars and intellectuals (both academic and non-academic) to revisit our centuries-old culture and tradition and strip away the crusted layers created by years of disuse and the cultural and social hemorrhage of the colonial experience and its not-too-noble aftermath. We can then modernise that old legacy to take advantage of new ideas and means, such as the facilitation of information and communications technologies, as tools for their definition and diffusion.

14 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Knowledge-Based Empowerment There is no better time to undertake this act of self-development than at a time like this when the globally ubiquitous nature of knowledge and its enabling information process and system have intrinsically weakened the approaches and created the basis for a more widely distributed and shared information and knowledge for the empowerment of the weak and poor. Africa must act urgently, with measured, informed and enlightened deliberateness, relentless focus and determination. The window of opportunity is short. The increasing awareness that “knowledge is power”, a proclamation that is proving to have truth and efficacy, especially in some of the traditional societies, is beginning to gain strategic significance through the capacities of information and communications technologies. This growing freedom of choice of a path to self-actualisation, this promise of a new and refreshing world of knowledge-based empowerment, is already creating the early makings of break-through and leap-frogging capacities. Africa must act swiftly, smartly and strategically because, if indeed knowledge is power, and information (its creation, ownership and control) is the ingredient which fuels that power, then Africa must focus on this window of opportunity for knowledge-based self-development. Towards a Knowledge-Based African Renaissance In this context, and for these reasons, as far as Africa is concerned, we must take the Millennium Development Goals as set by the historic United Nations Millennium Summit convened under the leadership of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H. E. Mr. Kofi Annan, as a baseline development targets. Because, for a people for whom much of contemporary history has been a feat of human endurance, in spite of their enormous talent and resource, Africa’s Millennium Goal must be the quantum transformation of our continent into a wholesome modern society, with an eminently noble, gratifying, enriching and perpetually

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 15

reinforcing quality of life, for all its people, with the freedom to dream and the right of reasonable expectation that such dreams can indeed come true. If we succeed with the model I propose here, as we must, for the African radar must be pointed one-dimensionally to see only success, as failure is not an option for Africa, the Millennium Development Goals should become beacons on the plains of our African achievements, guiding us in our much greater and more equitable accomplishments. Such a successful African Renaissance will engender and consolidate the healthy and conducive political, social, economic, intellectual and creative stability we have all so craved, in a dynamic not static mode, enabling Africa and Africans from all places and all works of life, to build their lives and pursue their self-actualisation with relaxation, creativity, innovation, leisure and cultural wholesomeness, and with the enrichment of our culture and society for the benefit and enjoyment of all. The Downside of Information and Communications Technologies In a slight shift of tone, it would almost be sacrilegious to suggest that ICTs have their limitations or, for that matter, their outright downside, which Africa must diligently strive to avoid. I have discussed these in detail in the past, but it would suffice to mention a couple of them here. For me, the most hilarious (if not appalling) downside of the ubiquitous spread of ICT, especially the Internet, is its direct denudation of the proper use of language in our contemporary society. Computer literacy has created literary illiteracy, so much so that many today are unable to craft a complete sentence, and if they finally struggle through one, butcher the language so devastatingly that we might simply have abandoned the use of language or resorted to the use of pure symbols. The mixture of tenses and numbers, and the abbreviation of expressions, which either create, compel or reflect the abbreviation of thought or the attenuation of its clarity, are direct products of computer literacy. In fact, it seems that in seeking to adjust our language use to accommodate the limitations of computer and information technology, we have crushed

16 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development spoken and written language as we squeezed it into this new and rather limited language mold. A second and related downside of our information society is that we speak so much more and say so much less that we expend a lot more energy to accomplish equally much less communication and understanding. In piling so much information and data on our senses because of our increased technological capacity to do so, we have so inundated the human mind with what I would like to call “data and information junk”, that its reflective capacity has become increasingly overwhelmed, reducing the ability of the most connected to understand the complexities of simple human conditions. I have argued in the past that we have now reached the point at which, subjected to the deluge of undifferentiated data and information, our reflective capacity has become inversely proportional to the degree of raw data, which attack our intellect.6 The Dialogue, the Debate, the Challenges and the Response This volume, Information and Communications Technologies for African Development: An Assessment of Progress and the Challenges Ahead, has been conceived to capture the dialogue and debate on the promise of ICTs for Africa’s quantum development, the definition and configuration of the problems and challenges that call for solutions, the ownership of the process, and the enabling environment, both internal and global, for maximum accomplishment. As such, it is a high-level analysis of the challenge, and one that is designed to help advance the strategic paradigms as well as the actual process of development of Africa through the empowering capacities of these technologies. Under the auspices of the United Nations ICT Task Force, this volume could not find a better platform for congregating leading expert opinions under one umbrella, enabling those who read this book to enjoy and utilise leading-edge analysis on the subject. The contributors to this volume consist of a distinguished array of leaders who, in one way or the other, are directly involved in the common mission of exploiting ICTs to address Africa’s handicap, thus freeing the continent

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 17

and its people to unleash their genius not only for their self-development, but for the advancement of the quality of human life and existence worldwide, including the peace and equanimity that money alone simply cannot buy. The creation of the UN ICT Task Force is a worthy testament to the vision of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, that “seizing the opportunities offered by the Digital Revolution is one of the most pressing challenges we face”.7 The Task Force itself, by virtue of its composition, which draws together leaders from both the public and the private sectors, as well as from civil society and academia, as much from the industrial nations as from their global counterparts, brings together the key players in the sector and in the arena of targeted deployment for development. This configuration allows for maximum collaboration, synergy and consensus in achieving the coherence of policy, strategy and programme necessary to get the best and the most effective and durable results from all combined effort and resource. Information and Communications Technologies for African Development: An Assessment of Progress and the Challenges Ahead reflects precisely that scope and versatility. The group of contributors to this book represents global leaders (political, industry and intellectual) who hold between themselves, substantial capacity to provide leadership for the catalytic impetus to help harness the opportunities and positive benefits of information and communications technologies to drive Africa’s quantum development and self-development. The high-level African representation amongst the contributors to this volume lends special and substantial relevance and authority to the dialogue captured in this book. The contributors to this book include President Abdoulaye Wade of the Republic of Senegal, who is responsible for the Information and Communications Technologies aspects of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) on the Heads of State Implementation Committee, NEPAD’s governing body, President Alpha Oumar Konaré, former President of the Republic of Mali, a leading advocate of ICT for development and the Chairman of the eAfrica Commission of NEPAD,

18 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development José María Figueres, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, Chairman of the UN ICT Task Force and former President of the Republic of Costa Rica, and the guiding words of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, H. E. Kofi Annan, himself. Together, they help set the political agenda in this volume. From the Task Force Secretariat, we have contributions from Ambassador Sarbuland Khan, the Director of the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Dr. Pekka Tarjanne, the Executive Coordinator of the United Nations ICT Task Force and former Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Together, they articulate the mission and vision of the Task Force and, in a way, that of the international development community. The African ICT private sector, which combines the industry and academic credentials quite typical of the overall African private sector, one which has carried on its shoulders the main burden of the struggle for significant ICT development in Africa, is solidly represented by leading experts, including Dr. Nii Quaynor, Chairman of Network Computer Systems (NCS), who sits on the Board of Directors of ICANN, the international body responsible for the management of the global Internet; Mike Jensen, who is a respected curator and virtual custodian of data and statistics on ICT in Africa; and myself who, besides being the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Telecom Africa Corporation and a founding member of the African Advisory Group on Information and Communications Technologies (AAGICT), the select group of African ICT experts from around the world who advise African Ministers of Information and Communications on high-level strategic and policy issues, also serve as an adviser to the UN ICT Task Force. African regional institutions are represented in this book by contributions from Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa and Emmanuel OleKambainei, respectively the past Chief Executive Officer and the current Program Director of the African Connection Centre for Strategic Planning, the continental institute set up by African Ministers of Communications to

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 19

serve as a platform for the development and collation of Africa’s strategies for the maximum exploitation of ICTs for Africa’s development, and Dr. Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, Director of the Development Information Services Division of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Dr. Gillian Marcelle from Trinidad and Tobago, a leading expert on ICT and gender issues, and ICT in Africa, Crocker Snow, Jr., the President of The Money Matters Institute, Akhtar Badshah and Justin Thumler, both of Digital Partners, represent the non-African ICT private and intellectual sectors. Dr. Nii Quaynor, Dr. Gillian Marcelle, and Dr. Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane are themselves members of the UN ICT Task Force. The contributions of these esteemed personalities offer an exciting reading for all those who seek to know the key challenges to not only ICT for African development, but ICT for development in general, and the issues at the cutting edge of the subject. This volume also offers an appendix of on-going ICT initiatives with respect to Africa and provides invaluable sources of material for further exploration and reference. Partnership for the Knowledge-Based African Renaissance In the renewed bold effort to transform Africa, and inspired by Africa’s renewed dream for a far better tomorrow masterminded in accordance with its own self-perception and worldview, partnerships, can and must play a critical role. Such partnerships, local, regional and global, public and private, partnerships built on mutual respect, recognised mutual capacity and adherence to basic tenets of equitable globalisation (which I have defined elsewhere as fairness and equity, mutual access to each other’s market, comparative competitive capacity, in the absence of which there must be dedicated affirmation action plans in place) become more important and efficacious, not less so. Because, when a people know where they are going and take charge of their journey into tomorrow, it becomes much easier for others not only to join forces to assist

20 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development them, but also to possibly pick up their pack and join them in a common march of progress not only for Africa, but also for all humanity. In this African-led and masterminded African future, there will be room for the active participation of global institutions, donor and development agencies, the private sector seeking legitimate opportunity and profit in return for meaningful and sustainable contributions to Africa’s development and well-being, civil society, and people in general, all engaging in, and engaging Africa in a dynamic, exciting and beneficial cooperative and collaborative common human pursuit of ever-increasing excellence. Key to all of this will be Africa’s wisdom in crafting a fail-safe way to acquire, not only knowledge and access to information, but also the mastery of information and communications technologies which drive them, and what they can enable us to accomplish. This will enable us and afford us the necessary resource tools, space and freedom, to configure and package our own unique, rich and ever expanding information, knowledge, culture, experience and expertise, to share with others, within the context of a fair and equitable, and truly competitive global environment. That is my personal dream for Africa. That is Africa’s dream.


1. See Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Ownership of Problems, Intellectual Property and the Digital Divide—The Enabling Challenge of Solutions, WIPO Second International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property, Geneva, September 19–21, 2001. 2. See Chapter Fifteen: Towards a Road Map for Information and Communications Technology Development in Africa. 3. One recognises that this opinion could slightly rile some of the big players in the development industry. But if Africa’s condition is as dire as everyone keeps saying it is, then risking some intellectual discomfort in the hope of finding the right formula for developing Africa once and for all is a nominal sacrifice which, I am sure, friends of Africa can afford. 4. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Creating a Desirable 21st Century Africa: The Role of Leadership and Governance, Futures, Volume 26, Number 9, November 1994.

ICT as Tools for African Self-Development ✦ Okpaku ✦ 21
5. Nigeria’s highly acclaimed major development strides in the early 1970s was driven by a bold indigenous business decree, which saw the emergence of major indigenous industrial and trade initiatives at all levels. Much of what sustains Nigeria today after years of painful indecisiveness, comes from those heady days. Unfortunately, the country was forced under tremendous pressure to abandon that decree by international financial institutions when its later reckless spending compelled it to seek concessions to refinance its debt. Nigeria still suffers from the loss of that major development phase fired by an enormous internal force fueled in part by Nigerians and other Africans abroad who rushed in from around the world in response to the opportunities offered under that decree. That experience may be worth revisiting. 6. See Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., E-Culture, Human Culture and In-Between: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century Digital World, A Presentation to the Creating New Leaders for e-Culture Conference, Coventry, United Kingdom, August 20–24, 2001. 7. Comments by Kofi Annan while introducing President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal at the 101st Plenary meeting of the fifty-sixth Session of the UN General Assembly, New York, 17 June, 2002.


Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Ph.D.
President and CEO, Telecom Africa Corporation


Background on Information and Communications Technologies for Development in Africa


A number of events in the last several months have served to advance the focus on ICT Development and ICT for Development in Africa, especially with respect to the UN ICT Task Force and its partners. At their 2002 Summit meeting held in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada on June 26–7, 2002, the Heads of State of the G8 industrial countries endorsed the programme and Implementation Plan of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the strategic development programme of the continental initiative. At the Summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) held a few weeks later in July 2002, in Durban, at which the African Union (AU) succeeded the OAU, the NEPAD programme was formally adopted by the new continental organisation, with NEPAD as an organ of the AU. The NEPAD programme 23

24 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development includes a strong focus on the dual strategy of ICT Development and ICT for Development (See later). At the Kananaskis Summit, the G8 Heads of State also adopted their own parallel programme for support of Africa’s initiative. The G8 Africa Plan of Action, as the initiative is called, also places emphasis on support for ICT Development in Africa, and commits the member states to providing support for enhancing Africa’s ability to develop ICT capacity as well as to take advantage of the enabling capacity of information and communications technologies and applications in her drive for comprehensive development. Specifically, with respect to ICT Development, Article 5.4 of the G8 Africa Action Plan undertakes to assist Africa to create digital opportunities by: • Encouraging the Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force) International e-Development Resources Network to focus on Africa, and supporting other DOT Force initiatives that can help to create digital opportunities, each building, wherever possible, on African initiatives already underway; • Working towards the goal of universal access to ICT by working with African countries to improve national, regional and international telecommunications and ICT regulations and policies in order to create ICT-friendly environments; • Encouraging and supporting the development of public-private partnerships to fast-track the development of ICT infrastructure; and • Supporting entrepreneurship and human resource development of Africans within the ICT Sector. Article 5.5 of the Action Plan addresses the counterpart objective of promoting ICT for Development by committing the G8 countries to assisting Africa to “make more effective use of ICT in the context of promoting sustainable economic, social and political development.” Specifically, it undertakes to do so by:

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 25

• Supporting African initiatives to make best use of ICT to address education and health issues; and • Supporting African countries in increasing access to, and making the best use of, ICT in support of governance, including the support of the development and implementation of national e-strategies and egovernance initiatives aimed at increased efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of government. Two initiatives emanating from the G8 DOT Force process, which are of particular importance to Africa, are: • The Global Digital Opportunity Initiative, a joint venture between the Markle Foundation and UNDP, which also has a support mechanism under the International Partners Group; and • The Partnership for Global Policy Participation. The Global Digital Opportunity Initiative plans support for ICT development in twelve African countries. In March 2002, the Prime Minister of Mozambique signed the first agreement for such deployment in New York. A few months later, the United Nations General Assembly, with the support of the UN ICT Task Force, held a two-day meeting on ICT and Development on June 17–18, 2002. This included two informal panels (one each day) that focused on Digital Opportunity: The Role of PublicPrivate Partnerships, on June 17, and The Role of the United Nations in Supporting Efforts to Promote Digital Opportunity in Africa, on June 18. The CEO Charter for Development One of the key events at the Special Meeting was the launching of the CEO Charter for Development programme, an initiative of the Global Digital Divide Task Force of the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the UN ICT Task Force. The CEO Charter is based on the pledge of companies that sign up, to commit a minimum of 20 percent of their

26 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development annual corporate citizenship and philanthropic budgets to support ICT Development in the developing world with a view to eliminating poverty. This programme holds immense potential for driving ICT development support in Africa in a consistent and coherent way, especially the support of the indigenous African private sector, the ultimate repository and arbiter of long-term durable industrial and competitive capacity-building and knowledge acquisition in Africa. The WEF-SADC e-Readiness Initiative The World Economic Forum (WEF), a key partner to the UN ICT Task Force, is itself vigorously engaged in promoting ICT development in Africa in a variety of areas. In cooperation with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), government institutions and the African individual and institutional private sector, WEF conducted a comprehensive initiative on e-readiness in the Southern African Region. It also devoted its most recent African Economic Summit, expanded from its predecessor Southern African Economic Summit, to promoting support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by the global private sector. One of the outcomes of the Summit was the “Business Endorsement of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development” initiative, a programme by which companies doing business in Africa commit themselves to support NEPAD’s objectives by observing a set of standard corporate citizenship criteria, such as transparency and proper accounting principles. Although a large number of over 250 companies have signed up for this programme, its value is difficult to assess at this juncture, as signing up does not involve any quantifiable commitment of resources (material or in kind) to Africa or the NEPAD process. The Task Force Digital Bridge to Africa Workshop On July 12, 2002, the UN ICT Task Force convened the Digital Bridge to Africa Workshop with a view to mobilising African ICT expertise and resources abroad in support of Africa’s ICT development on the

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 27

continent. Co-sponsored by UNIFEM, the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), Digital Partners and Gruppo CERFE, the workshop consisted of a panel discussion and a working lunch, followed by a concluding plenary session. The workshop, which was attended by some 130 participants including a large number of African ICT experts and entrepreneurs at home and abroad, resulted in the creation of three initiatives: • The Digital Diaspora Network-Africa (DDN-A), • AFRISHARE, and • The Social Venture Fund for Africa. The Gateway Project In addition to these, the Task Force has mobilised resources and windows of opportunity through its partnerships, in support of ICT development. For example, the Gateway Project of the World Bank has provided a global database gateway and a window for ICT projects to respond to the needs of the Task Force. It is also providing support through its network of country gateways. African countries are beginning to take advantage of this opportunity. The Success Story Study With the support of the African Regional Network and the ECA, the Task Force recently commissioned a Success Story Study in Africa to collect evidence of progress being made in the acquisition and capacity of ICT, and their deployment for self-improvement and socio-economic empowerment. The study, which involved field research in three African countries (Egypt, Uganda and Kenya), focused on micro enterprises and concluded that there have been some gains. It identified the key elements behind these success stories in terms of economic concepts such as “Demand drives supply”, “Ownership is essential”, “Learning (and adjusting) by doing”, and “The money motive matters”.1

28 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Other Initiatives Informal Sector and Civil Society Initiatives The informal sector, consisting primarily of NGOs, plays a significant role in advancing efforts at building ICT development in Africa. This sector realises the significance of using ICT technologies and applications for dealing with issues which have become traditionally associated with NGO efforts: namely, the eradication of poverty; the social, educational and political empowerment of the disadvantaged, especially women and children; education; preventive healthcare and the management of illness, especially HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases; and universal access to basic information and telecommunications services through innovative and affordable technologies. The energy and persistence, which is the hallmark of NGOs, contributes in no small way to the plethora of initiatives that are currently ongoing in Africa, including those now embraced by governments and the formal sector. It is significant that these NGOs are as much indigenous African organisations as regional or international groups. SMEs Given the size of the informal component of the African economic landscape, especially with over 70% of the population living in small and rural communities, and the unique adaptability of ICT applications to small and micro enterprises, it is no surprise that these enterprises have become increasingly active in the African ICT environment. Taking advantage of the online facilities of the Internet as well as the development of telecentres, individual and small groups of African entrepreneurs are setting up a slew of businesses, from online marketing of farm products, arts, crafts and clothing, to Internet cafes and telecentres. Street corner and marketplace pay-as-you-go phone services in cities like Abidjan, Dakar and Bamako, in which you pay a deposit and the number you desire is dialed for you (fixedline to fixedline, and mobile to mobile, for lowest tariffs), pay noble homage to the ingenuity of the African informal sector.

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 29

Industry-Based Initiatives The ICT industry in Africa itself has gradually come to the realisation that its long-term profitability in the African market is intimately tied to the development of ICT capacity, not only in order to increase market demand, but also to promote economic and social development. This is the only way of increasing the buying power of the African population, which, in turn, will increase that portion of income that can be invested in broader ICT products and services. Examples of such industry-based initiatives include the following:
1. The SatCom Project

The SatCom Project was instituted by the telecommunications and satellite industry in Africa, as a partnership between indigenous and international players. At the SatCom Africa 2002 Conference held in Midrand, South Africa, in February 2002, the industry embraced the suggestion of PanAmSat that it commit bandwidth, equipment, expertise and other resources to support significant satellite-based projects. Created primarily by the conference organisers, Terrapin, Ltd., the Telecom Africa Corporation, RASCOM, Hughes Network Systems, WorldSpace, Sentech, UNISA, the Global VSAT Forum and Mike Jensen Consulting, amongst others, the SatCom Project is designed to: • Be continental in scope; • Make a concrete positive difference to ICT development in Africa; • Promote distance education, telemedicine, social, cultural and health development in Africa; • Involve all aspects of satellite technology, as well as exploit compatible non-satellite communications technologies and applications; • Avoid becoming a vehicle for dumping obsolete technologies, equipment and applications in Africa, a practice that would further impoverish Africa as a graveyard of technological obsolescence; • Promote research and development in pursuit of such solutions; • Promote human resource development, especially of Africans;

30 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Involve African experts worldwide, using the facilitations of global network applications; • Promote knowledge of satellite communications in Africa, at both the technical and layman levels; • Promote partnerships amongst the players in the industry at large, and between Africa and the non-African sectors; • Engender, to the extent possible, enthusiastic support from officials and institutions with circumscribing authority to facilitate or smother the project; and • To be fun for all parties concerned.2
2. The Digital Factory

The Digital Factory is an initiative to create capacity in Africa for the development of software and applications at global standards to support the global ICT industry and market, as well as to meet indigenous continental demand. A private-sector initiative between Sun Microsystems, The Telecom Africa Corporation, the State of California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency, and other partners, the Digital Factory hopes to replicate the software development miracle of India, most notably in Bangalore. In the process of being detailed and fine-tuned, the Digital Factory will be continental, beginning with two or three countries and expanding thereafter. Digital Factory expects its software deliverables to be globally competitive in terms of quality and innovation. Its partners aim to greatly enhance the prospects of Africa’s ICT Development not only in terms of training and capacity-building, but also in providing market opportunities for such expertise through out-sourcing, subcontracting and direct contracting with industry partners, development agencies and international organisations.

Indigenous African Initiatives Of great importance in the ongoing drive for ICT Development in Africa is the active role of Africans and African institutions, public and private,

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 31

in undertaking bold and innovative initiatives. The potential impact of such efforts is itself greatly enhanced by the intimate level of collaboration between both sectors, government and private, and between Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora. These initiatives cover a broad spectrum of areas, from policy and regulation, to industrialisation, infrastructure, software, content, development communications, and capacity building. Regulatory Matters On the regulatory side, national regulatory authorities have begun forming sub-regional groupings, such as the West African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (WATRA) and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Southern Africa (TRASA). Taking advantage of common attendance at various forums, such as the African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on Information Society, in Bamako, Mali, in June 2002, African experts, officials and sector entrepreneurs are holding ad hoc meetings to pool their resources in pursuit of common interests. In this regard, moves are underway for the creation of an association of African Telecommunications Regulatory Authorities, with the support of the Bureau for Telecommunications Development (BDT) of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Infrastructure There are several regional infrastructure initiatives being taken by Africans in the ICT sector.
1. The Sat–3/WASC/SAFE Undersea Optical Fibre Cable Network.

Shortly after the independence of South Africa, in a dramatic show of continental solidarity, cooperation and strategic common purpose, several African countries, in the euphoria of having achieved the most singular strategic objective of the OAU, joined forces to build a major undersea optical fibre cable to directly link many African countries to each other and to Europe and Asia, in partnership with global industry players. Led

32 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development by Telkom S.A., the 36 participants built the Sat–3/WASC/SAFE cable network. The 28,000 km cable, which cost $650 million USD, was launched in Dakar on May 27, 2002.
2. The RASCOM Satellite Project

RASCOM (the Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation), to which most African governments belong, is undertaking to build the RASCOM Satellite, in collaboration with Alcatel. Designed to have a footprint that will cover the entire continent, it is intended to support affordable access to ICT resources for Africans anywhere on the continent, especially rural populations.
3. The Comtel Project

Comtel is a regional project, undertaken by the member states of COMESA, to build an optical fibre grid to interlink their national networks. Policy and Strategy
1. The African Connection and the Ministerial Oversight Committee

The African Connection was created by the African Ministers of Communications during the ITU African Regional Conference in Johannesburg in 1998, to serve as an institutional framework for the coordination of telecommunications development ideas and capacity building, especially those with regional scope. The Ministerial Oversight Committee of African Ministers of Communications supervises the African Connection.3
2. The African Telecommunications Union (ATU)

The African Telecommunications Union, a reconstitution of the PanAfrican Telecommunications Union (PATU), is the de facto African regional telecommunications counterpart of the ITU. ATU, which also reports to the Ministerial Oversight Committee, serves as the organ for the systematic pursuit of telecommunications development in Africa.

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 33 3. The African Advisory Group on ICT (AAG-ICT)

In the effort to mobilise Africa’s global expertise at the cutting edge for Africa’s ICT Development, the African Advisory Group on ICT has quietly played (and continues to play) a critical and indispensable role. The AAG-ICT is a group of 12 eminent African ICT experts from around the world who meet behind closed doors on an average of twice a year to provide confidential high-level advice to African Ministers of Information and Communications on strategic, policy and regulatory issues, with no holds barred. Created by the Minister of Communications of South Africa, Dr. Ivy Matsepe Casaburri, who also hosts it, the AAG usually meets one day ahead of the meeting of the Ministerial Oversight Committee, whose subsequent meeting is also attended by AAG members. The AAG also works in close liaison with the African Connection and the African Telecommunications Union, the heads of which two institutions also sit on the AAG. The Advisory Group expects to support the activities of NEPAD through intellectual support for the e-Africa Commission. This configuration, the result of persistent advocacy amongst African ICT experts that the continent take control of its sector challenges and build indigenous institutions, is most likely to prove to be the most strategic innovation in Africa’s response to the global challenge of ICT development. In addition to these, there are indigenous African initiatives aimed at building industrial as well as research and development capacity in Africa, allowing Africa’s expert capacity to spread around the world.

Key Issues with Potential Durable Impact on ICT Development in Africa Myriads of Initiatives An unintended and probably unanticipated challenge to the effective pursuit of ICT development in Africa is the plethora of initiatives,

34 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development which threaten to overwhelm Africa’s absorptive capacity. Numbers seem to take priority over significance in a response that is not inconsistent with the situation in other development efforts. In 1998, the Bureau for Telecom Development of the ITU convened a meeting in Rabat, Morocco, to try to coordinate and systematise some of these initiatives. Amongst those participating in this meeting, besides the ITU, were IDRC, Bellanet, UNDP and several African institutions, including CSIR and the Telecom Africa Corporation. While the partnership amongst the leading development initiatives, under the umbrella of the UN ICT Task Force, has forged a measure of coordination, the impact of this is yet to be felt. African Ownership A major part of this is the seemingly intractable challenge of creating an African-defined (even if not entirely African-led) agenda, with all the benefits of knowledge, experience in situ, compelling demands of internal self-actualisation and ownership with its implicit direct accountability and responsibility to the African peoples. Strategic Matters A further by-product of this challenge is the emerging possibility that there might be a genuine imbalance in the perception of critical (if not strategic) priorities in the urgent effort to build lasting and self-enhancing (read “sustainable”) ICT capacity in Africa. This capacity has direct impact on clear and measurable social, economic, cultural, intellectual and systemic transformation of Africa to become a comfortable partner in the global dispensation. Some issues that fall into this category include: • excessive emphasis on small, medium-scale and micro enterprises without industrialisation;

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 35

• a potentially bloated demand for a “conducive” policy and regulatory framework without defining the pre-eminent role and responsibility of the governed or the regulator; • investment in building indigenous capacity and the protection of such budding capacity versus embracing totally externally originated capacity in the context of liberalisation of the sector; • “realistic” versus “ambitious” efforts and expectations; • the threat of further marginalising indigenous ICT sector entrepreneurs by the relentless thrust of globalisation; and • such other disparities, which reflect the differences inherent in the perspectives of the African and the development partner. Quantifying and Qualifying Africa’s Existing Globally Diffused ICT Expertise It is scientifically impossible to undertake strategic African capacity building in the ICT sector without first determining the extent, scope and quality of the expertise Africa already has and which it can deploy as its first line of attack in trying to achieve the quantum development. This is necessary not only to bridge the handicap of a late start, but also to move in leaps and bounds to catch up with and join the ranks of global ICT development and capacity. In the absence of such comprehensive human resource assessment, most initiatives that have been undertaken in this regard are subject to reasonable doubt. African initiatives, such as The Global Human Resource Survey of African Male and Female Experts in ICT, are designed to create a critical database for strategic decision-making policy and access to African cutting edge expertise, wherever it may be worldwide. This anticipated database will enable African governments and their decision makers, development agencies, international organisations and the global private sector, to draw on Africa’s already vast human resource expertise to shape, formulate, man and drive critical ICT initiatives throughout the continent. This will supplement the administrative skills of decision makers with the technological expertise of Africans.

36 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Building Africa’s Research and Development Capacity in ICT Technology is not sustainable without continuous research and development activity at the cutting edge. This strategic capacity is seriously lacking in Africa, hamstringing the continent’s ability not only to custom tailor generic technological innovations to meet its specific needs, but also to join the global community of research and development, which is the source of development of Intellectual Property, the quintessential element of technological advancement and wealth. African initiatives include The Telecom Africa Virtual Research Laboratory Project, which will link African scientific and technological research experts around the world and their global counterparts with interest in African ICT development in a secure global Intranet. When research initiatives are developed to the point of requiring in-lab physical research and experimentation, such initiatives will be transferred from online to in-lab work through negotiations with the most appropriate physical laboratory in the world.

Africa’s ICT Challenge In all of this, the singular challenge is to devise effective strategies to bridge the gap between these often conflicting perceptions and priorities and, in the process, advance the progress of effecting increased capacity in the mastery and use of Africa’s ICT ability, both in its own rights as well as a tool for development.

Engaging the UN ICT Task Force in Support of African ICT Development and NEPAD’s ICT Programme The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is the strategic platform of the newly created African Union, the continental African

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 37

political and economic institution that succeeded the Organisation of African Union (OAU) and which mirrors other regional institutions, such as the European Union. An instrument of the African Union, NEPAD, in its short life, has established itself as a reference point in virtually all initiatives directed at Africa. NEPAD enjoys high priority with the United Nations. Amongst the African items and events on the Agenda of the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2002 was the final review and appraisal of the United Nations Agenda for the Development of Africa (UN-NADAF), Agenda Item 41, which was decided at a HighLevel Plenary Session on NEPAD. The session consisted of two plenary meetings and an informal panel discussion at which the five members of the Heads of State Implementation Committee of NEPAD (the Presidents of Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa) fielded questions for a couple of hours. From an institutional structure point of view, NEPAD has four main sectors, as follows: 1. Infrastructure, which consists of ICT, Water and Sanitation, Transport and Energy; 2. Agriculture and Market Access; 3. Human Development, covering Health and Communicable Diseases, Education and Poverty Eradication; and 4. Capital Flows, which consist of Domestic Resource Mobilisation, Private Capital Flows, ODA Reform, and Debt Reduction. NEPAD’s ICT development objectives are articulated in the basic NEPAD Document. They are: • to double teledensity to two lines per 100 people by the year 2005, with an adequate level of access for households; • to lower the cost and improve reliability of service; • to achieve e-readiness for all countries in Africa; • to develop and produce a pool of ICT-proficient youth and students

38 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development from which Africa can draw trainee ICT engineers, programmers and software developers; and • to develop local-content software, based especially on Africa’s cultural legacy.4 The e-Africa Commission Positioned within the Infrastructure Sector, ICT is a major focus in the NEPAD agenda. To oversee this process, African leaders formed the e-Africa Commission to serve effectively as the ICT task force of NEPAD in pursuit of the NEPAD objectives listed above. The Commission is chaired by His Excellency President Alfa Oumar Konaré, former Head of State of the Republic of Mali and an ardent advocate of ICT for Development in Africa. President Konaré was also a keynote speaker at the ECOSOC meeting of July 5–7, 2000, which focused on “Development and International Co-operation in the 21st Century: The Role of Information Technology in the Context of a Knowledge-based Economy”. Although NEPAD looms large on the African horizon and in the global picture, it is yet to develop both a comprehensive detailed agenda and to set up the administrative and expert capacity and establishment to fully manage its affairs. In particular, the e-Africa Commission, NEPAD’s de facto ICT organ for masterminding and managing its ICT priorities and programmes, is also very new, and therefore at the early stage of addressing its institutional and programmatic challenges. Given the overriding fact that NEPAD’s overall agenda covers an enormous scope, which embraces virtually all development challenges of Africa and its people5, NEPAD has called for the cooperation, expertise, synergy and the strongest commitment of support institutions (both African and international). This would enable it to successfully manage the process in such a manner as to fulfill the enormous expectations the African people, and indeed the world, place on the young institution.

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 39

Specifically, for our purposes here, the e-Africa Commission is expected to seek similar support for its sector objectives, hoping to profit immensely from a global partnership programme in support of the ICT component of the NEPAD Implementation Plan. NEPAD ICT Initiatives At the Conference on Financing NEPAD, held in Dakar, Senegal, on April 15–17, 2002, and hosted by Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, NEPAD unveiled its ICT Programme as approved by the Heads of State Implementation Committee of NEPAD (the highest ruling body of the organisation) under the Chairmanship of Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo.

NEPAD’s ICT Projects Following is a synopsis of the original programme, consisting of thirteen projects, as outlined at the Dakar Conference.
ICT/1: Infrastructure Project

This project aims to install 32 optical fibre inter-state links in West Africa.
ICT/2: Telecommunications Law and Regulation Harmonisation

Aims to “create a unified and opened economic zone through the integration of property, infrastructure and financial services markets.”
ICT/3: IT/Telecommunications Device Manufacturing Plant

The objective of this project is to “develop activities around telecommunications-related industries, create ICT private industries, promote industrial sub-contracting activities, improve IT equipment availability and produce ICT equipment more adapted to African needs and environment” in West Africa.

40 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
ICT/4: Support to ICT-related Facilities

A transcontinental project to “provide support to maintain and upgrade existing ICT-related educational or industrial centres” in Lome, Togo, Dakar, Senegal and Harare, Zimbabwe.
ICT/5: PAG-NET, PanAfrican Governmental Network

This is a transcontinental “secure IP/Ipsec network designed exclusively for African Government communications (data and voice transmission).”

“DATAFRICA aims at the creation of an electronic database to store various statistics in the field of economics, trading, geography, environment, agriculture, health, population, ICT and infrastructures.”
ICT/7: E-Justice Africa

“E-Justice Africa is a system that will manage justice information in Africa. It will allow (the) exchange of data between criminal justice agencies, courts, law enforcement and prosecutors.”
ICT/8: E-Customer Africa

ACEN, as it is also called, is intended to be “a public/private communication and data transmission system designed to track customs transactions between African countries.”

ACT-NET, or ACTIS, as it is also called, is “a Pan African cooperation tool to prevent and fight terrorism. It will collect, analyse and track information about terrorists, suspected individuals and their activities.”
ICT/10: Telemedicine

This continental project (AHTIS) is intended as “a way of building highquality interoperable systems for health education, prophylaxis, epidemiological analysis, telemedicine operations, medical care and prevention.”

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 41 ICT/11: E-History Africa

“E-History Africa is a program that will support and encourage (the) production and diffusion of African history on worldwide networks and digital media.”
ICT/12: Africashop

A transcontinental project, “Africashop is an electronic online store that aims to be a window to African art and culture. It will offer arts and crafts, clothing, local food (and jewelry).”
ICT/13: Africa Cybermarket

“Africa Cybermarket is a commodity market that will allow electronic exchange of agricultural and sea products between African producers and the buyers.” It is a transcontinental project. A review of these would indicate that the programmatic objectives of NEPAD are in the following areas: • • • • • • Infrastructure Content development Law, Policy and Regulatory Affairs Industrialisation E-Governance Online distance services, including telemedicine and distance education • Internet marketing This would essentially cover the full spectrum of the ICT industry. Amongst the challenges before the e-Africa Commission, as it sets out to establish itself and to prosecute its objectives under the NEPAD programme, would be building the institution itself, and the institutional capacity to manage these challenges in the continental and global context. Having done that, it would also have to define the role it has chosen to play in the different sub-sectors of ICT in Africa, especially

42 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development given the power of the global industry, which also dominates the African regional market. In this regard, the e-Africa Commission is likely to seek to: 1. Develop a comprehensive picture of the current status of ICT development and initiatives on the continent, placing them in the global context; 2. Rationalise its ICT objectives and priorities within this dual context; 3. Mobilise Africa’s global human resource expertise as a core team to strengthen its extended strategic and institutional capacity, a process which it has already begun by drawing on members of the African Advisory Group on ICT (the AAG-ICT); 4. Rationalise its role, whether as mobilising financial and other resources in support of the African private sector, or promoting global/domestic African partnership, or public/private African partnership, or some other permutation of partnership possibilities. The rationalisation of this last area will be crucial if the Commission is to get the buy-in of an enlightened and driven African private sector. That sector already fears that the global private/African public sector partnership, which has been the configuration most advocated in much of ICT development strategies, not only undermines the ability of Africa to build indigenous capacity, but also undermines its opportunity to compete globally. In this regard, the position of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, the Vice Chairman of the NEPAD Heads of State Implementation Committee and Head of its Infrastructure Sector, is instructive. Addressing the lunch reception in his honour on June 17, 2002, during the UN General Assembly Special Meeting on Information and Communications for Development, he succinctly articulated the view that his government’s preference was for African governments to empower the African private sector so that they can form credible, fair and equitable partnerships

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 43

with their global counterparts. In his opinion, building Africa’s indigenous private sector capacity using this strategy would definitely attract the African private sector to join forces with the Commission in pursuit of a common continental dream. In all of this, the e-Africa Commission is likely to concentrate on projects and initiatives which have the potential of maximum impact on ICT development in Africa, and which have sound prospects of durability by becoming self-sustainable, or to provide discernable catalytic impact to drive subsequent initiatives, projects or programmes. The ultimate agent for such durability and sustainability will be a versatile, innovative, and indigenous African private sector, working in alliance with its global counterpart, on equitable terms. Adequate provisions would have to be made for affirmative action to build such competitive capacity from experience and knowledge gained from each collaboration. These are basic tenets of equitable globalisation.

The Role of the UN ICT Task Force in Support of NEPAD and related African ICT Development Activities The commitment of both NEPAD and the UN ICT Task Force to the goals of the UN Millennium Declaration, and the alignment of the vision of the African Union with the global vision of the United Nations, provide a conducive platform for Task Force efforts in support of the ICT Development in Africa as a whole, and the ICT objectives of NEPAD as executed through the e-Africa Commission. NEPAD, through the e-Africa Commission, could benefit substantially from the extensive access, expertise and clout of the UN ICT Task Force and its donor and private sector partners in many ways. These include the following: 1. Through the mobilisation of support from the G8 industrial nations, especially given their explicit commitments in the G8 African Plan of Action;

44 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development 2. Through similar mobilisation of support from other industrial and evolving industrial nations outside the G8 membership; 3. Through mobilisation of support from donor and development agencies; 4. Through mobilisation of support, as much in material as in kind, from the global private sector, especially those who are partners in the Task Force; 5. In particular, through support for the World Economic Forum’s CEO Charter for Development and Business Endorsement for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development programmes to help mobilise the global private sector to provide comprehensive and dedicated support; 6. Through its own on-going initiatives, such as the Digital Diaspora Network-Africa, to help mobilise Africans and others in the Diaspora in support of ICT initiatives on the continent; 7. Through support of new initiatives, and in partnership with other institutions, especially Africa’s private sector, talented and highly expert even if nascent, to help support Africa’s own drive for selfdevelopment, the ultimate essence of NEPAD.


Through these and other avenues, the United Nations ICT Task Force could help mobilise significant support, promote and/or partner with NEPAD and its e-Africa Commission. The Task Force can have durable positive impact on ICT Development in Africa, within Africa’s own vision for self-actualisation and of The United Nation’s own terms of reference. Any positive impact of initiatives undertaken by the Task Force and its partners, even if not in direct support of specific NEPAD objectives, constitutes de facto support of NEPAD, granted that the ultimate and overall objective of NEPAD is the transformation of the African ICT landscape, through all legitimate and conducive channels and agents.

Background on ICT for Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 45

Above all, the United Nations ICT Task Force, by partnering with the African public and private sector (continental and global) could help promote African ownership of the ICT development process in Africa. Furthermore, it could empower the African ICT private sector not only to meet the basic and emerging demands of ICT in Africa, but also to compete effectively in the global marketplace. Such cutting edge global competitive capacity is ultimately the only way to ensure durable sustainability of the process and the gains from all efforts of NEPAD and other initiatives involved in the global effort to effect a quantum development of ICT capacity in Africa. This will also greatly increase prospects for achieving a broadcast acquisition and integration of ICT applications in the everyday life of Africans, while preserving and enhancing the cultural attributes and priorities of Africa and its people, thus enriching the global human culture at large.


1. See Chapter Thirteen, Tip-toeing Across the Digital Divide: African Entrepreneurs Applying, Adapting and Advancing Appropriate Information Technologies, by Crocker Snow, Jr. 2. See Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Creating an Industry-sponsored Participatory Continental African Satellite Communications Project: The SatCom Project, SatCom Africa 2002 Conference, Galagher Estate, Johannesburg, February 26–28, 2002. 3. See Chapter Nine, Info-communication for Development in Africa: The African Connection Initiative by Emmanuel OleKambainei. 4. NEPAD Document, Section B1 (ii) Bridging the Digital Divide: Investing in Information and Communications Technology, page 25, item 117, Objectives. 5. See ENABLING NEPAD, An Assessment of the Objectives, Capacity and Activities of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and Strategies and Niche for UNDP Support. A Consultancy Report by Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Ph.D., New York, UNDP.


H. E. Alpha Oumar Konaré
Former President of the Republic of Mali

Restoring Africa’s National Space1

First of all, I would like to thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, and Ambassador Wibisono for inviting me to this important session of ECOSOC. Regarding the question of the New Information and Communications Technologies, you could have found—I am sure—another speaker, somebody more representative of the extraordinary impact of this revolution in human progress. After all, the connection of the African continent to the worldwide network does not represent more than 2% of the total! Also, I wish to pay homage to the United Nations for its delicacy and perspicacity for having brought our continent, today, to a debate where—as it could be possible to think—we do not have a say in the matter. But this thinking would be contrary to a vision of the future, since it is certain that Africa, tomorrow, will be able to overcome its handicaps as well as other nations did in history, fighting against all pessimism existing in this domain. Furthermore, the weak presence of 47

48 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Africa on the world scene does not mean that it is not aware of what is at stake. An Old Problem in New Terms I would like to recall that it is not the first time that the African community has had to face up to problems affecting such a delicate area as Information and Communications. For more than 30 years, we have measured the real significance of these topics compared to the other fields of human activity. In particular, we know that the control of these parameters is the prerequisite for modernity, progress and freedom. This is why, in the same tribune of today, we have spoken several times throughout the 1970s, to advocate a new world order in information. It was already a time of unilateral occupation of the world, when the space of the Southern countries was occupied by the satellites of the North, without any possibility of debate, without any possible compensation. During these years, Africans have understood that national space at the end of the 20th century could become foreign to its indigenous people, alienated and dominated even on their own land. Today, everybody knows that the least movement in the most remote African village can be thoroughly dissected by the always-increasing sophisticated instruments. We have been suffering this merciless domination for thirty years, to a point where everybody by now considers this alienation as a natural event. Everybody knows the dramatic consequences of this. On the world scene, Africa is unfortunately only present because of its ethnic conflicts, famine, and disease. Africa appears as an old sick person, pale and atonic, suffering continuous agony, and constantly kept alive by international aid. This is the only image of Africa that exists for Northern countries, simply because only they can hold images. For those rare people whose interests and affairs are on the continent, this represents a great injustice. They discover populations in good health, industrious, trusting in the future. They discover democratic societies, where the modernity of

Restoring Africa’s National Space ✦ Konaré ✦ 49

institutions has nothing less in comparison with others. They discover—above all—the young people of today, the managers of tomorrow; young people free of complexes, because they do not know anything about colonisation; young people by now aware of the tiniest pulses of the world, because they navigate the Internet. Early Initiatives Furthermore, I would like you to know that if, once again, Africa is the poor relative of the world in terms of connectivity, it is due to the fact that the costs for new technologies and media are still out of our reach. Actually, in Africa, the debate on these technologies started several years ago, almost at the same time as in the Western countries. In 1976, two hundred personalities, including politicians and businessmen, university professors and common people—two hundred personalities from the North and from the South—convened in Geneva, invited by President Guy Olivier Segond, President of the State Council and of the Canton of Geneva and by myself, to think together in global terms about Africa and the challenges of new communications technologies. The right measure of the world significance of the Internet has been expressed through the decision to build a virtual world between Geneva and Bamako, my country’s capital city, chosen as a representation of West African countries in this initiative. This is how the Anais Network was born, a consultation network on ICT in Africa. This creation meant for us basically two things: a new form of cooperation between the North and the South, and the commencement, through the Internet, of a revitalised integration among African countries. The Legacy of Slavery, Colonialism and Racism We finally understood that one of the major handicaps of the international cooperation lies in the lack of communication and of reliable information regarding our societies, our cultures, the structure of our economies, and our reciprocal political objectives. The slave trade,

50 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development colonisation, racism and all forms of domination and exploitation in history, based on the superiority complex of one race, come from an ignorance typical of the human dimension of the other, simply because this other, despised and discriminated against, could never really express itself. The Internet Revolution The Internet, in this regard, realised an unprecedented revolution, allowing Africa to be in the world without any detour or intermediary. There is no doubt that Africa is better known in the last five years than in the last five hundred years. And it is also thanks to the hundreds of African websites that the character and the potential qualities of the continent are now being more appreciated than in the past. The second value of the Anais Network for African countries themselves is as an instrument that could allow them to better grasp their common problems in order to evolve common solutions. Starting from Geneva, we chose four major areas where development seems to be the foundation of progress and all possible well-being: education, health, democracy and environment. The rebirth of Africa, which has been so widely discussed in the last few years (and that does not seem to me to be an illusion), can be reached through the development and constant renewal of human resources, and through the construction of a truly democratic society, which would be able to free all initiatives and to protect our environment, the very condition for our existence. When we invited the governments of six countries from the South and one from the North, and the citizens to discuss these main questions, obstacles and barriers collapsed; this was surely due to the vitality and fluidity of information, and to the possibility for African countries to together identify a problem and a barrier. The Global Dialogue If, in recent years, we have participated in almost all world meetings on the ICT, it is because of the creed of Geneva, where all participants

Restoring Africa’s National Space ✦ Konaré ✦ 51

agreed that Africa had a great opportunity of finally having its voice heard on all major issues. The Global Knowledge Conference held in Toronto in 1997, with its focus on the question of knowledge and ICT, gave us the opportunity of expressing our views on this issue. Knowledge, for us, is the essence of everything that is to be known, including rational knowledge, as codified by Western culture and, unfortunately, presented ever since to the rest of the world as the only valuable knowledge. The debate in Toronto did also raise the question of content that should be developed by Africa on the Internet and the electronic media. We said that development was a question of culture, and that countries in the South were confined to an inactive scheme with the connivance of the North, for as long as this hypothesis was not recognised by everybody. The question of world knowledge brings along that of the exhumation, thanks to the ICT, of the historical legacy of Africa. It poses the problem of the confinement of the means to a particular civilisation, in which there is the escape, the salvation of the difference, in a world globalised to death, so to speak. But it is up to African university students, to business agents, to judges, to all citizens—it is their task to reveal their knowledge, their know-howto-do and know-how-to-be Africans who, throughout the centuries, have kept the continent alive in spite of all the aggressions that we all know. It is through our involvement in this debate on the world scene that will make it possible to develop our prolific differences and to refuse the assimilation of our values by a media-driven world eruption of sound and image. This is the same position that we had the honour of supporting in our closing speech at the ECA (Economic Commission for Africa) Forum on Information Technologies, held in Addis Ababa. “Bamako 2000” As for the “Bamako 2000”, organised in my country last February, which counted on the participation of four continents out of five, 736

52 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development representatives from 48 countries, it was the greatest gathering in Africa on the topic of ICT. Regarding the subject of “Internet as the footbridge of development”, the panelists presented the most recent applications of the Internet in the following domains: education, health, administration of decentralised communities, media, electronic commerce, sustainable development, women in information society, the rights of citizens and peoples, the collective access and the appropriations of the ICT, and the ethical and legal challenges of the Internet. A Collective Approach to Access Nobody has any doubt today about the revolutionary character of the Internet in the development process. But one of the questions just mentioned represents today a real problem and has been discussed in Toronto, Addis Ababa, Bamako and, lately, in New York at the Experts’ Meeting preparing this General Assembly of ECOSOC. I am refering to the collective access and the appropriations of ICT. The Threat of a New Digital Conquest of Africa We are aware of the interest that 400 million African consumers represent for multinational companies, and reforms advocating privatisation have been initiated everywhere in this important field. There is such a movement in this direction that a great world competition is taking place. But among all possible analyses, we can recognise, in the prompt increasing interest of northern countries in the connection of Africa, a kind of re-conquest of the African continent. The doctrine of a “new society of the planetary information” is just an idea serving a fooling market. It is, in a word, the eternal debate on the objectives aimed at all innovative technologies. You all understand that our commitment to Information and Communications Technology is mainly based upon the vigilance and maturity of Africans in this respect. Also, the only valid question for us

Restoring Africa’s National Space ✦ Konaré ✦ 53

is that of the exploitation of our populations with respect to opportunities related to ICT. We know that the United Nations, until today, devoted almost eighteen million dollars to strengthen connectivity in Africa, in addition to the fifteen million dollars of the Leland Initiative for which we are sincerely thankful to the United States. We also have to say that there is more pressure for installing cellular telephone networks than local infrastructures, since these need a major connection effort. A United Nations Response This is why I strongly commend the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations for having convened this important meeting. A glaring inequality among the different regions in the world came out from the experts’ report. But it also arose that there are countries which, only ten years ago, had an economical structure similar to that of African countries today, and they succeeded in a spectacular takeoff with a resolute policy with respect to connectivity. Mali’s Initiatives It is for this reason that today, at the “Bamako 2000”, we announced the intention of the Government of Mali to link the 701 municipalities coming out from a long program of decentralisation of the country and to provide each of Mali’s municipalities an Internet access point in order to give to the State reliable demographic statistics and electoral lists for transparent elections. We will also install one Internet access point for the country’s natural resources map, and for the school, the health system, and the ecological and cultural chart. There will also be one Internet access point in each municipality for communication and better acquaintance amongst citizens, and for more efficiently positioning and increasing the value of their production. Is the planned link of 701 municipalities of Mali to the Internet today, a utopia? Is it something impossible?

54 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development ”Debt for Connectivity” I do not see another way of giving Africans a chance to enter the global information society than invoking international cooperation, which, as it seems to me, is—in the whole world—the only possible universe for solidarity and parity: the United Nations have always been the defender of the poorest. Everybody knows here that Africa does not need to beg on the world scene. It is one of the continents with the greatest natural resources in the world. And as for human resources, more than the fifty percent of the population of Africa is under 25 years old. The burden that Africa drags upon its feet and that prevents it from taking off is debt, always debt. And if the dream of the Government of Mali is still just a dream, it is only due to the burden of debt. At “Bamako 2000”, I revealed to the participants that the Internet link of 701 municipalities would have cost a maximum of 8 billion French Francs, or less than 7 million US dollars, which is impossible to find today, since Mali pays almost 60 billion French Francs, or approximately 10 million US dollars, annually for its debt. The linking up of Africa to the world is not a luxury. It is not simply in the interest for Africa; it is in the interest for the entire world. This is why I take advantage of being in front of such an important tribune to propose to the international community the formula of “debt for connectivity”. I am sure that, if every year just one percent of the total amount of debt of each African country is devolved for the creation or the amelioration of the telecommunication infrastructures (telephone, instant messages, electricity, Internet), the Northern as well as the Southern countries will find it to their mutual benefit.

1. On July 5, 2000, H. E. Alpha Oumar Konaré, as the then President of the Republic of Mali, addressed the High-Level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as a special guest. That speech is presented here.


Mike Jensen

The Current Status of Information and Communications Technologies in Africa

An Overview

The use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) has grown relatively rapidly in most urban areas in Africa. Five years ago, only a handful of countries had local Internet access; now it is available in every capital city. In the same period, more mobile cell phones were deployed on the continent than the number of fixed lines laid in the last century. Hundreds of new local and community radio stations have been licensed, and satellite TV is now also widely available. However, the digital divide is still at its most extreme in Africa, where the use of ICTs is still at a very early stage of development compared to other regions of the world. Of the approximately 816 million people in Africa in 2001, it is estimated that: 55

56 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • • • • • • • 1 in 4 have a radio (205m), 1 in 13 have a TV (62m), 1 in 35 have a mobile phone (24m), 1 in 40 have a fixed line (20m), 1 in 130 have a PC (5.9m), 1 in 160 use the Internet (5m), and 1 in 400 have pay-TV(2m)1

Surveys show that sub-Saharan Africa, along with South Asia, remains at the bottom of the list of developing regions in Internet usage, with South Asian Internet use growing more rapidly (see Table 3–1).
Table 3–1: Internet Users as a percentage of the Total Population
Region United States High-income OECD (excl.US) Latin America and the Caribbean East Asia and the Pacific Eastern Europe and CIS Arab States Sub-Saharan Africa South Asia World
Source: NUA Publishing (

1998 26.3 6.9 0.8 0.5 0.8 0.2 0.1 0.04 2.4

2000 54.3 28.2 3.2 2.3 3.9 0.6 0.4 0.4 6.7

Table 3–2: African Internet Statistics for 2002
Dialup Internet Subscribers International Population Outgoing Bandwidth in Millions in Kbps 2000 GDP/Capita Cities with in USD POPs 1999 (Points of Presence)


Africa 1492535 Algeria 45000 Angola 16000 Benin 4500 Botswana 20000 Burkina Faso 4700 Burundi 300 Cameroon 7000 Cape Verde 2456 Central African Republic 700 Chad 900

1409100 12000 5126 2100 14000 256 512 9000 1024 64 64

769,66 30,08 12,09 5,78 1,57 11,31 6,46 14,31 0,41 3,48 7,27

1207,5 1442 1684 374 3252 199 159 617 876 276 149

283 1 3 1 11 1 4 2 1 1 2

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 57
Dialup Internet Subscribers International Population Outgoing Bandwidth in Millions in Kbps 2000 GDP/Capita Cities with in USD POPs 1999 (Points of Presence)


Comoros Congo Cote D’ivoire D.R Congo Djibouti Egypt E. Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Morocco Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Reunion Rwanda Sao Tome & Principe Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe

491 200 13000 4500 850 100000 200 2500 6500 5000 3000 15000 4000 250 35000 750 250 4000 10000 3500 6000 960 35000 80000 6000 15000 2000 60000 47000 2700 378 15000 3000 1000 250 750000 9000 5000 30000 1700 70000 10000 7000 25000

64 128 6000 1024 2048 535000 64 512 8200 16384 1024 4096 128 640 28000 784 128 2048 2750 2300 4096 384 4096 200000 2048 6144 384 15000 576 1300 64 48000 4098 512 768 342000 10000 256 12000 1536 75000 9250 5120 11000

0,66 2,79 16,2 49,3 0,62 65,98 0,43 3,58 59,65 1,17 1,23 19,16 7,71 1,13 29,01 2,06 2,67 5,98 16,36 10,75 10,69 2,53 1,15 27,87 18,88 1,66 10,08 113,5 0,68 6,6 0,14 10 0,08 4,57 10,63 44,31 28,29 0,95 32,1 4,4 9,34 20,55 8,78 12,68

382 833 767 400 846 1195 668 161 103 5121 284 372 677 245 347 547 1000 6579 224 242 230 455 3661 1218 86 2051 161 551 9270 317 358 518 6995 209 169 2979 364 1388 244 324 2144 317 463 712

7 5 13 1 6 1 1 1 5 7 14 3 10 4 2 2 1 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 11 100 1 2 4 1 1 4 3 1 2 2 7 1 4 9 1 5 1 4

58 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The divide between urban and rural areas is even greater. Most of the services and users are concentrated in the towns, while the majority of Africans are scattered in small communities spread-out across vast rural areas. Very limited diffusion of the telecommunications networks into rural areas (often over 75 percent of the country’s telephone lines are concentrated in the capital city) and irregular or non-existent electricity supplies are a common feature and a major barrier to use of ICTs, especially outside the major towns. Furthermore, most tax regimes still treat computers and cell phones as luxury items, which make these almost exclusively imported items all the more expensive and even less obtainable by the majority. Although there have been notable efforts in some countries to reduce duties on computers, communications equipment and peripherals are still often charged at higher rates. Another systematic factor is that the road, rail and air transport networks are limited, costly to use and often in poor condition, resulting in barriers to the increased movement of people and goods, needed both to implement and support a pervasive ICT infrastructure, but also for the increased economic and social activity which would be stimulated through greater use of ICTs. Congested border posts and visa requirements add to these difficulties. Perhaps an even greater problem is that the brain drain and generally low levels of education and literacy amongst the population have created a scarcity of skills and expertise (at all levels, from policy making down to end-user). Rural areas in particular suffer with even more limited human resources. Along with the very low pay scales in the African civil service, this is a chronic problem for governments and NGOs who are continually losing their brightest and most experienced to the private sector. This situation is not unique to Africa or other developing countries, but is also being faced by the developed world where infrastructure demands have outpaced the supply of experienced staff. However, this is simply exacerbating the situation in Africa, because experienced technicians, even from the local private sector, are able to find much higherpaying jobs in Europe and North America.

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 59

Finally, the general business climate for increased investment in Africa, acutely needed for the ICT sector, has suffered from the wellknown problems of small markets divided by arbitrary borders, nontransparent and time-consuming procedures, limited opportunities (due largely to the historic pattern of monopolies and high levels of state control), scarce local capital, currency instability, exchange controls and inflation. However, these rather discouraging observations do not give the full picture. The ICT landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and within the continent there are many pockets of significant developments: • One of the early and still most important impacts has been in the use of e-mail to reduce the cost and to increase the speed and duration of international communications. This has allowed many people and organisations to improve management, obtain resources and generally achieve much better communications with their family, friends, colleagues and partners around the world, especially in neighbouring countries. • Although the relatively low level of ICT penetration amongst the public in Africa has so far limited the use of ICTs for governance purposes, many administrations are beginning to streamline their operations and improve internal efficiencies by adopting ICTs. For example, the government of Lesotho recently declared that all announcements for cabinet and committee meetings would be made only by e-mail. Administrations, such as those in South Africa, Algeria and Tunisia, now provide immediate global access to tenders via the web. Health and education departments in many countries are beginning to electronically transmit operational MIS statistics such as disease occurrences and pupil registrations. In South Africa, the results of blood tests are being transmitted to remote clinics that are off the telecom grid via mobile telephone text messages. As

60 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development greater numbers of public officials are now gaining low-cost access to the web, the vast information resources available via the Internet are becoming increasingly important tools in ensuring informed decision-making. • Lack of timely information is well known to be the largest constraint on small-scale agricultural production and natural resource exploitation—a sector that provides livelihood for 70–80 percent of Africa’s population. However, thus far the potential for ICTs to impact this sector has not yet received much attention. Local farmers or miners often cannot obtain up-to-date market information so that travelling traders can negotiate most favourable prices. With improved information systems they would be able to obtain much better market-related prices. Also, farmer and fishing organisations would be able to band together to sell their produce directly to distributors, and negotiate for better prices on inputs. • The scalability of ICTs lends them to adoption by small and medium size enterprises, which can provide much needed local communication services. Furthermore, the ‘death of distance’ provided by the Internet has meant that there are even greater opportunities to be found in exploiting the larger information and communication-based economies of the developed countries. For example: - A local Internet service provider in Morocco has a contract to digitise the National Library of France’s paper archives. They are scanned in France, sent over by satellite link where operators in Rabat edit them. - In Togo and Mauritius, call centres now provide telephone support services for international companies with customers in Europe and North America. Callers do not realise they are calling Mauritius or Togo; they pick up the phone, dial a local number and are routed through to one of these countries where the operators there provide the support that they require. - In Cape Verde, ‘virtual security guards’ have found jobs using the Internet to monitor web cams in office parks on the East Coast of

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 61

the US. They notify local rapid response teams there if they see anything amiss. - Many African craft makers are selling their wares on the World Wide Web, supported by NGOs, such as PeopleLink. While these developments are encouraging, unfortunately there are rather too few of these examples, largely because of the low level of penetration of the infrastructure and supporting environment necessary to effectively use ICTs in Africa. Broadcasting Radio is still by far the most dominant mass medium in Africa, with ownership of radio sets being far higher than for any other electronic device. In 1997, UNESCO estimated radio ownership in Africa at close to 170 million, with a 4 percent per annum growth rate. This would put 2002 ownership slightly over 200 million radio sets, compared with only 62 million televisions. It is estimated that over 60 percent of the population of the sub-continent are reached by existing radio transmitter networks, while national television coverage is largely confined to major towns. Some countries still do not have their own national television broadcaster; even a relatively well-developed country, such as Botswana, has only this year launched a national TV broadcaster. An increasing number of commercial stations are being established following liberalisation of the sector in many countries. However, the news and information output of these commercial stations is often either a re-broadcast of the national (state-controlled) broadcaster’s news, or that of an international broadcaster or news agency. Local news and current affairs, especially those focusing on events outside of the capital, is rarely broadcast. Also, community broadcasting has been slow to take off in the region. Genuine community broadcasters are scarce. Nevertheless, Ghana, South Africa and Uganda have seen notable numbers of new community radio licensees.

62 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Satellite-based broadcasting has in particular seen major activity on the continent in the last few years. In 1995, South African company MNet launched the world’s first digital direct-to-home subscriber satellite service, called DSTV. Subscribers have access to over 30 video channels and 40 audio programmes on C-band to the whole of Africa and on lower-cost KU-band to Southern Africa, south of Lusaka. Last year South Africa’s public broadcaster, SABC, launched Channel Africa, a new satellite-based news and entertainment channel aimed at the continent. The US-based company WorldSpace launched a digital radio broadcasting satellite called AfriStar in late 1998. Broadcasters in Europe, the US and in Egypt, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Senegal and South Africa have so far signed up to provide content. WorldSpace ultimately aims to make a suite of over 80 audio channels available to anyone on the continent who can afford the $50 for the special digital radio, which is also able to receive data services, including the transmission of web pages. Telecommunications Changes in the telecommunications sector in Africa have perhaps been even more marked than in broadcasting. A substantial increase in the rate of expansion and modernisation of fixed networks is taking place, along with the explosion of mobile networks. The number of main lines grew about 9 percent a year between 1995 and 2001. This growth, however, is off a very low base. The overall fixed line teledensity, as of 2001, is still only about one per 130 inhabitants in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), and taking into account population growth, the effective annual increase in lines is only 6 percent. Also, most of the existing telecom infrastructure cannot reach the bulk of the population—50 percent of the available lines are concentrated in the capital cities, where only about 10 percent of the population live. In over 15 countries in Africa, including Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Uganda, over 70 percent of the lines are still located in the largest city.2 However, the situation is not quite as bad as it would appear due to the penetration of mobile networks, where subscribers have now surpassed

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 63

fixed-line users in most countries, thus underlining the pent-up demand for basic voice services. Due to the low-cost and long range of the cellular base stations, many rural areas have also been covered. On the other hand, the high cost of mobile usage (about USD$0.50/minute, on average) makes it too expensive for regular local calls or Internet access. Overall, the number of fixed lines increased from 12.5 million to 21 million across Africa between 1995 and 2001. North Africa had 11.4 million of these and South Africa had another 5 million lines, leaving only 4.6 million for the rest of the continent. Thus, while sub-Sahara Africa contains about 10 percent of the world’s population (626 million), it has only 0.2 percent of the world’s 1 billion telephone lines. Comparing this to all of the low-income countries (which house 50 percent of the world’s population and 10 percent of the telephone lines), the penetration of phone lines on the sub-continent is about 5 times worse than the ‘average’ low-income country. Even if telecom infrastructure is beginning to spread, domestic use has, until recently, been largely confined to the small proportion of the population that can afford their own telephone. The cost of renting a connection averages almost 20 percent of GDP per capita, as compared to a world average of 9 percent, and only 1 percent in high-income countries.3 Despite these high charges relative to income levels, the number of public telephones is still much lower than elsewhere. In 2001, the International Telecommunication Union reported about 350,000 in the whole continent, 75,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, or about 1 for every 8,500 people, compared to a world average of 1 to 500 and a highincome average of 1 to 200. Public Telephone Operators (PTOs) in countries, such as Botswana and South Africa, now provide a ‘virtual phone’ alternative. Subscribers are issued their own unique phone number and pay a small rental for a voice mailbox, from which they can retrieve their messages from any telephone. A pager can also be tied to the system to immediately inform the subscriber that a message is waiting. However, an increasing number of operators in Africa are now passing over the responsibility for maintaining public telephones to the

64 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development private sector, which has seen a rapid growth of public ‘phone shops’ and ‘telecentres’ in many countries. The best-known success story is in Senegal, where there are over 10,000 commercially-run public phone bureaus, employing over 15,000 people and generating over 30 percent of the entire network’s revenues. While most of these are in urban areas, a growing number are being established in more remote locations. Some are now also serving needs for providing Internet access and other more advanced ICT services to the public. ICT Hardware and Software Most recent estimates for the number of personal computers in Africa put the total at about 7.5 million for 2001—an average of about 1 per 100 people. But due to limited capacities for industry monitoring and the large numbers of machines smuggled in to avoid duties, these figures are notoriously unreliable. Some studies, such as the ACCT (1995) survey, indicate that official figures may be an overestimate by between 3 and 6 times, making the average closer to 1 per 500 people. Account should also be taken of the number of users sharing a single computer, which is much greater than in the more developed regions of the world. Under-utilisation of existing computer resources is also common, often caused by the preponderance of many stand-alone computers in the same office with no use of Local Area Networks (LANs). Often an office may have many machines, but only one with a modem connected to the Internet. This usually means that there is competition for the machine and a shared e-mail account, which is not conducive to effective use of the Internet. More generally, the high cost of computer hardware is a major issue as this is often the largest component of their startup budgets. This situation is likely to become an even more critical bottleneck now that lowcost bandwidth is becoming increasingly available, such as through Ku-Band VSAT and spread spectrum wireless (WiFi) links. As a result, increasing attention is being directed toward the use of recycled PCs,

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 65

thin clients, set-top boxes, or other low-cost Internet ‘appliances’, and Open Source (free) software for these situations.
Table 3–3: Telecommunications Usage 2001
Country Year 2001 Fixed lines 000s Penetration % Population Mobile Users 000s Penetration % Population Public phones 000s

Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Burundi Cameroon Cape Verde Central Africa Chad Comoros Congo Côte d’Ivoire Djibouti DR Congo Egypt Eq. Guinea Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea Bissau Kenya Lesotho Liberia Libya Madagascar Malawi Mali Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Morocco Mozambique

1880 80 59.3 150.3 57.6 20 101.4 62.3 10 11 8.9 22 293.6 9.9 20 6650 6.9 32 310 37.2 35 242.1 25.5 12 313.1 22.2 6.7 610 58.4 54.1 49.9 19 306.8 10 1193.3 89.4

6.04 0.59 0.92 9.27 0.47 0.29 0.67 14.27 0.26 0.14 1.22 0.71 1.8 1.54 0.04 10.3 1.47 0.84 0.48 2.95 2.62 1.16 0.32 0.98 1 1.03 — 10.93 0.36 0.47 0.43 0.72 25.56 6.98 3.92 0.44

100 86.5 125 278 75 20 310 31.5 11 22 — 150 728.5 150 3 2793.8 15 — 27.5 258.1 43 193.8 55.7 — 500 33 — 50 147.5 55.7 45.3 — 300 — 4771.7 169.9

0.32 0.64 1.94 16.65 0.61 0.29 2.04 7.21 0.29 0.27 — 4.82 4.46 0.29 0.47 4.33 3.19 — 0.04 20.45 3.22 0.93 0.69 — 1.6 1.53 — 0.9 0.9 0.48 0.39 — 25 — 15.68 0.84

5 0.27 0.51 3 1.44 0.08 6.55 0.39 0.09 0.06 0.17 — 1.93 0.42 21.99 — 0.42 1.56 0.83 0.68 3.18 0.85 0.2 9.03 0.37 — 0.45 0.46 0.54 2.37 0.89 2.92 — 46.84 1.86

66 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Country Year 2001 Fixed lines 000s Penetration % Population Mobile Users 000s Penetration % Population Public phones 000s

Namibia Niger Nigeria Réunion Rwanda SaoTomé Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Somalia South Africa Sudan Swaziland Tanzania Togo Tunisia Uganda Zambia Zimbabwe TOTAL

117.4 21.7 500 268.5 21.5 5.4 237.2 21.4 22.7 15 4969 453 32 148.5 48.1 1056.2 63.7 85.4 253.7 21210.3

6.57 0.19 0.43 — 0.27 3.63 2.45 26.73 0.47 — 11.35 1.42 3.14 0.41 1.03 10.89 0.28 0.8 1.86 3.52

100 1.8 330 — 65 — 390.8 44.1 26.9 — 9197 105 66 427 95 389.2 322.7 98.3 328.7 23545.2

5.59 0.02 0.28 — 0.82 — 4.04 55.15 0.55 — 21 0.33 6.47 1.19 2.04 4.01 1.43 0.92 2.41 2.95

5.3 0.06 1.6 — 0.4 0.08 13.49 0.22 0.31 — 178.11 5.25 0.83 0.72 0.16 19.31 1.38 0.87 3.23 346.67

The Internet The use of the Internet is a good indicator of the availability of ICTs, as it requires the integration of many individual components of ICTs— computers, telecommunications infrastructure—and the skills to use them. As the graph below shows, both the number of Internet users and the amount of international bandwidth are still growing strongly across the continent. In Africa, the pattern of Internet diffusion has been similar to that of the mobile telephone networks. Although not quite as widespread, the Internet preceded the mobile phone explosion, having had greatest impact at the top end of business and in wealthy families, primarily in the major urban areas. Ironically, the non-profit sector—the academic institutions and the NGOs—pioneered the use of the Internet in the early 1990s, fueled by their need for low-cost international communications. It

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 67

was subsequently taken up by private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and most of the national telecom operators. Due to the large number of shared accounts, along with the relatively high and rapidly growing use of public access services, such as telecentres and cyber cafes, it is difficult to measure the total number of Internet users. Although the number of dialup subscriber accounts is readily available, these figures are only a partial gauge of the size of the Internet sector and should be looked at along with other factors, such as the quantity of international traffic each country generates.
Figure 3–1: Growth of Internet use in Africa
1800 1600 1400

Subs/ Kbps (000s)

1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 98 99 00 01 02



The rates of growth seen in the 1990s have slowed in most countries, because the bulk of the users who can afford a computer and telephone have already obtained connections. As of mid–2002, the number of dialup Internet subscribers was close to 1.7 million, 20 percent up from 2001, mainly bolstered by growth in a few countries such as Nigeria. Of these subscribers, North Africa and South Africa are responsible for about 1.2 million, leaving about 500,000 for the remaining 49 subSaharan African countries. If we assume that each computer with an Internet or email connection supports a range of three to five users, this puts current estimates of the number of African Internet users at about 5 to 8 million. About 1.5–2.5 million of the users are outside North and

68 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development South Africa, or about 1 user for every 250 to 400 people. This compares with a world average of about 1 user for every 15 people, and a North American and European average of about 1 user for every 2 persons.
Figure 3–2: Countries with more than 10 000 Internet subscribers

Other 47 nations Kenya Reunion Nigeria Tunisia Algeria Morocco Egypt South Africa

Shared or public access and the use of corporate networks are continuing to grow at greater rates than the number of dialup users. This can be seen in the deployment of international Internet bandwidth, which is still expanding substantially—up over 100 percent, from 700 Mbps of available outgoing bandwidth in 2001 to 1500 Mbps in 2002. However, this is still slower growth than the rest of the world, which averaged 174 percent in 2001. No studies have been made in Africa of the number of rural versus urban users, but it is safe to say that users in the cities and towns vastly outnumber rural users. Although many African countries now have points of presence (POPs) in some of the secondary towns (about 280 different locations across the continent), most rural users have to make a costly long distance call to connect to the Internet. However, some countries have now instituted local call charges for all calls to the Internet regardless

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 69

of distance, which greatly reduces costs for those in remote areas and greatly increases accessibility and the viability of Internet services provided by rural telecentres in these nations. Thus far, 19 countries have adopted this strategy. They are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Interestingly, the Seychelles has gone a step further to encourage use, and tariffs for calls to the Internet are charged at a 50 percent lower rate than normal local voice calls. Currently, the average total cost of using a local dialup Internet account for 20 hours a month in Africa is about USD 60 per month (usage fees and local call telephone time included, but not telephone line rental). ISP subscription charges vary greatly (between USD 10 and USD 80 a month) and largely reflect the different levels of maturity of the markets, the varying tariff policies of the telecom operators, the different regulations on private wireless data services and access to international telecommunications bandwidth. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 20 hours of Internet access in the United States cost USD 22 per month in 2000, including telephone charges. Although European costs were higher (USD 33 in Germany, USD 39 across the European Union), these countries have per capita incomes that are at least 10 times greater than the African average. In fact, USD 60 per month is higher than the average African monthly salary. This limits individual use of the Internet, creating demand for public access facilities—the cost of a single account shared amongst all of the customers who would not otherwise be able to afford access. Similarly, due to the relatively small number of people who can afford a phone line, let alone a computer, telecentre services are already very much in demand in the urban areas. This is most evident in countries, such as Nigeria and Senegal, where telecom operators have relied on the private sector to provide public phone services. Also, in most other major urban areas across Africa, there is a rapidly growing number of kiosks, cybercafes, and other forms of public Internet access.

70 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Figure 3–3: Countries with more than 5Mbps International Bandwidth
Sudan Zimbabwe Tanzania Botswana Nigeria Gabon Kenya Senegal Tunisia Algeria Morocco South Africa Egypt 0 200 400
10 11 12 14 15 16 28 60 75 83 136 398 535



Bandwidths (Kbps) (000s)

In response to the high cost of Internet services and the slow speed of web access, and also because of the overriding importance of electronic mail, lower-cost email-only services are continuing to attract subscribers. Due to the relatively high cost of local electronic mailbox services from African ISPs, a large proportion of African email users use the free Web-based services such as Hotmail, Yahoo, or Excite, most of which are in the United States. These services can be more costly and slower than using standard e-mail software, because extra online time is needed to maintain the connection to the remote site. Unfortunately for the ISPs, these services can also use up scarce international bandwidth. In response to these issues and the growing use of shared accounts, some African ISPs, such as AfricaOnline and MailAfrica, have set up their own low-cost web-based email services. In the area of Internet-based content and applications, the African web-space continues to expand, albeit at a rather slow rate, and there are still rather too few relevant applications for the average African user. Almost all countries now have some form of local or internationally hosted web server, unofficially or officially representing the country with varying degrees of comprehensiveness.

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 71

Although there are a few notable official general government websites, such as those of Angola, Egypt, Gabon, Lesotho, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, and Zambia, there is as yet little discernible government use of the Internet for existing administrative purposes. Web presence is higher in some sectors, particularly those involved in tourism and foreign investment, and these often have more mature sites that are aimed at developing an international market presence, although these are of little interest for most potential users. Outside South Africa, there are generally few organisations that are using the web to deliver significant quantities of information or to carry out transactions with their user-base. Although large numbers of organisations now have a “brochure” website with basic descriptive and contact information, very few actually use the Internet for real business activities. This is explained by the limited number of local people that have access to the Internet (and thus the limited importance of a web presence to the institution), the lack of credit cards, the limited skills available for digitising and coding pages, and the high costs of local webhosting services. Perhaps of interest to those in rural areas with little access to timely information, the African news media are now relatively well represented on the web. In 1999, the Columbia University African Studies Department identified over 120 different newspapers and news magazines that were available on the Internet, of which over 60 percent were published in about half of the countries (23) on the subcontinent. Those most well represented in this area are again those with more advanced Internet sectors—Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. There are also efforts to develop local content and host daily newspapers by the ISP AfricaOnline, which has offices in eight countries. Universal smart card and e-commerce policies are also gaining attention in a number of countries. Mauritius and South Africa are looking at a single smart card that will allow the public to hold their driver’s license, small amounts of funds that can be used for small transactions, and their health and other social security information. Harmonisation

72 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development of e-commerce policies is also on the agenda in a number of countries, so that, for example, electronic evidence is upheld in court and can be used for ensuring that e-commerce is correctly carried out. The Outlook for the Future Efforts to promote more universal access to ICTs in Africa have been discussed among high-level policymakers since the early 1990s. Official recognition was given to the issue in 1996 when the Conference of African Ministers of Social and Economic Planning requested the UN Economic Commission for Africa to set up a “high-level working group” to chart Africa’s path onto the global information highways. An expert group developed a framework document entitled the African Information Society Initiative (AISI), which was adopted by all of Africa’s Planning Ministers (see Chapter Eight). AISI called for the formulation and development of a National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) plan that would be driven by national development priorities in every African country. AISI also proposed cooperation among African countries to share experiences. Since then, Communications Ministers from over 40 African countries have provided high-level endorsement for AISI, along with specific telecommunications development policies encapsulated in their common vision document, African Connection, which was published in 2001 ( Most countries have begun the process for developing NICI plans, and 16 countries have already finalised their strategies.4 High in the area of priorities in many of these plans is improvement of access to ICTs in rural areas through the use of telecentres that exploit the convergence of technologies to provide cost-effective services in under-serviced and remote locations. The impact of much of these efforts will depend largely on the extent of improvements to the telecommunication infrastructure on which use of ICTs depends. Liberalisation of the telecommunication

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 73

sector and the introduction of competition are seen as key to driving down prices and increasing the quality of service. However, while some countries have begun to open up their markets, there is a general sense that not enough is being done. While there is a variety of efforts underway to restructure national telecom operations and build better national and international infrastructures, many of these lack a cohesive approach built on a clear understanding of the dynamics and impact of the fast-paced and constantly changing communications technologies environment. Models of infrastructure provision are likely to be quite different to those employed in developed countries because of the generally low income levels, limited formal business activity and the much greater importance of the rural population, where up to 70–80 percent of the people may live outside urban areas. In addressing the low-income factor, innovative models may be necessary, which focus on shared infrastructure, public access facilities and the use of intermediaries to interact with the public who may not have functional literacy, let alone be computer literate. The high costs of connectivity in remote areas will hopefully be addressed by the large number of low-cost two-way Ku-band VSAT satellite-based data services that have been launched this year by companies, such as Afsat and Web-Sat. These services will be a major boom to rural users, making use of the new high-powered satellite footprints now covering Africa, similar to services currently available in the United States and Europe. Costs are about USD 1500–3000 for the VSAT equipment and USD 200–400 per month for “better than dialup” speeds (i.e. 56 Kbps outgoing and 200–400 Kbps incoming). These are expected to see rapid uptake wherever regulations allow. Unfortunately, most countries in Africa either charge excessively high license fees or do not allow these services at all, as they compete with the state-run telecom operator. The African Union and their programme, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), supported by the international

74 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development community, are addressing many of the systemic issues. This multifaceted effort is aimed at accelerating Africa’s development and should as a result help to create an environment more conducive to the rapid adoption of ICTs.
Table 3–4: Continental Connectivity Indicators
Country Countries with only one Public Access ISP Countries with Local Dialup Internet Access Nationwide Countries with Advanced Data Services

Benin Botswana Burkina Faso Cape Verde Central African Republic Congo Djibouti Egypt Ethiopia Gabon Ghana Kenya Malawi Mali Mauritius Mauritania Morocco Namibia Niger Senegal South Africa Seychelles Tchad Togo Tunisia Uganda Zimbabwe

✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘ ✘

Countries with local Internet Exchange (peering) points (IXs): 1. Egypt—Cairo (IDSC) 2. Kenya—Nairobi (KIXP) 3. South Africa—Cape Town (CINX), Johannesburg (JINX)

The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 75 Figure 3–4: Low cost local dialup

Secondary City Access National Access

76 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Figure 3–5: African Internet Bandwidth Per Capita and Marine Fibre Cables


The Current Status of ICT in Africa ✦ Jensen ✦ 77

Further References 1. Africa’s Information Society Initiative (AISI) Documents (ECA)

2. Bridging the Gaps in Internet Development in Africa—Report (IDRC). 3. Continental Connectivity Indicators

4. ITU Rural Connectivity & Telecentres 5. Partnership for ICTs in Africa (PICTA)

6. African Connection 7. UNECA, May 2002

8. Prince of Wales IBLF Digital Partnership,, Computer Aid UK , World ComputerExchange 9. World Telecommunication Development Report, ITU, 2002. 10. Survey of ICT Resources. Agence de Cooperation Culturelle et Technique (ACCT), 1995. 11. The Information Society and Development, A Review Vol. I, 12 January 2001, European Commission. 12. UNESCO The Telecentre Cookbook for Africa: Recipes for SelfSustainability, 2001.

13. The G8 Dot Force Report, May 2001

14. UNDP, 2002. Human Development Report 2001. 15. African Internet Map

78 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development

1. ITU, UNESCO, Jensen. 2. ITU World Telecommunication Development Report 2002. 3. It should be noted that there is a large variation between countries in the charges for installation, line rental and call tariffs. The average business connection in Africa costs over $100 to install, $6 a month to rent and $0.11 per 3-minute local call. But installation charges are above $200 in some countries (Egypt, Benin, Mauritania, Niger and Togo), line rentals range from $0.8 to $20 a month, and call charges vary by a factor of 10—from $0.60 an hour to over $5 an hour. 4. Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Gambia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia. UNECA, May 2002. (


His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade
President of the Republic of Senegal1


Information and Communications Technologies in the Service of Development
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
If Africans had the same favourable conditions as other peoples, there is no question that they have all of the necessary intellectual resources to meet the challenge of an information and communication society. — P R E S I D E N T A B D O U L AY E W A D E

Let me first express, once again, my heartfelt gratitude for the great honour bestowed on Senegal by the President of the General Assembly’s kind decision to invite me as the keynote speaker of the General Assembly Meeting on Information and Communications Technologies for Development. I feel all the more flattered because this invitation comes from a man of vision and commitment whose outstanding qualities as a seasoned 79

80 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development statesman, dedicated parliamentarian and bright academic, have greatly benefited the work of the General Assembly during this session. Indeed, your achievements, Sir, are no surprise to me. As an eminent citizen of the Republic of Korea, you belong to a proud nation of true achievers who have been able, within a generation, to leapfrog decades of underdevelopment to become one of the top economies in the world. I should like to thank you most warmly, Mr. President, for your commendable initiative. I should like also to pay a sincere tribute to your, and our, SecretaryGeneral, Mr. Kofi Annan, as well as to President José María Figueres, former Head of State of Costa Rica and an outstanding figure in the development of digital technology in his country, for the decisive role they have played in the establishment and development of the study group on information and communications technologies. The initiative of holding this meeting came from the South, which is suffering from the effects of the “digital divide”. As the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) coordinator for this extremely significant aspect of our development strategy, I am fully aware of the timeliness and the relevance of our Meeting. That is why I am particularly honoured by this invitation to address the community of nations as the keynote speaker on this subject. The tremendous stakes involved in new information and communications technologies, which today are decisive for the progress of nations, are the reason why the New Partnership for the Development of Africa—which was adopted last July at Lusaka, at the thirty-sixth summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), and entitled “The New African Initiative”—has made this sector one of its principal priorities. I should like to recall that NEPAD is based on several fundamental pillars; namely, good governance; the region as a basis for development, rather than the State; and finally, heavy reliance on the private sector. NEPAD has chosen eight priority sectors: infrastructure, education, health care, agriculture, new information and communications technologies, energy, the environment, and market access, with the diversification of agricultural products.

ICT in the Service of Development ✦ Wade ✦ 81

Backing our appeal, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Tiscali and other titans in the new technologies sector all were heavily represented last April in Dakar at the Conference on Partnership with the Private Sector for Africa’s Development, and they made clear their desire to assist Africa in its fascinating new technological adventure. I should, therefore, like to recall here a few practical measures for which Africa, in the conclusions and resolutions of Dakar, requests the support of the international community. These include the establishment of Internet networks, thereby making possible the transmission of audio and visual information among the Governments of the region, or indeed, those of the entire continent. And why not hold digital African conferences? Other measures include harmonising the regulatory framework for the telecommunications sector, at least in each of the regions, to facilitate foreign investment and the digitalisation of Africa’s cultural heritage, in particular through the production of CD-ROMs on the history of Africa. This project, which is particularly important to me, is now being implemented in Senegal. Another measure is the establishment of a pan-African “e-store” for trade and exchange in African products—crafts in particular—and to make e-trade the driving force for economic growth; the creation of industrial units for the production of information and telecommunications equipment; and finally, the establishment of a global fund for information and communications technologies to assist Africa in overcoming the digital divide that separates it from the developed world. Moreover, Africa’s backwardness in this area, far from being inevitable, is now being dealt with and is on the way to being eliminated, for the struggle is well under way, as I am gratified to note. Efforts to this end are now being made to bring about this new planetary citizenship— the digital revolution. Indeed, the entirely new system of underwater fibre-optic communication, which I launched in Senegal this past May 28, which links Europe, Africa and Asia over 28,000 kilometres, shows that our continent is indeed well on its way towards digital emancipation, since this system

82 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development allows Africa to be connected, with full autonomy and at a lesser cost, to the global network. The use of underwater digital cable de facto eliminates expensive travel through major urban centres outside the continent. It ensures autonomy, reduced costs and the linkage of users to the rest of the world. As you are aware, many African countries depend on certain European capitals to communicate even among themselves. This technological marvel—which we inaugurated recently, and which was implemented in a relatively short time, several months, thanks to the involvement of companies from the South and the North—represents a specific example of new technology projects, which NEPAD is striving to promote through private partnerships. Indeed, if Africans had the same favourable conditions as other peoples, there is no question that they have all of the necessary intellectual resources to meet the challenge of an information and communications society. It is on the basis of this belief that I have decided to embark firmly on a bold policy of development of new information and communications technology in Senegal. I recently launched a large-scale project—Cyberville—a technological park on the outskirts of Dakar with a highly competitive telecommunications infrastructure. It is designed to host major companies working in the area of new technologies and the future start-ups of outstanding young Africans who wish to be active participants in the new economy. Here again, this is a project that was launched by the public authorities but that has become a private one, involving the private sector in Senegal and the American private sector. The time has come for Africa to make full use of its human resources by taking advantage of the enormous potential of e-business, the spread of digital technology and the development of information technology solutions. Asian countries have succeeded in this, and they too started from circumstances similar to ours. I am, therefore, convinced that this can be achieved very quickly. For its part, Senegal has had a successful initial experiment with distance medicine, which was repeated last week. Doctors in Dakar assessed

ICT in the Service of Development ✦ Wade ✦ 83

via satellite the pregnancies of 60 women living in the most remote and cut-off areas of the country. Again, that took place just 72 hours ago. For these people, seeing a baby sucking its thumb in its mother’s womb and understanding that abusing the mother means brutalising the child, represents a genuine social and cultural revolution. Indeed, we saw people holding their heads in their hands in astonishment. We have had similar success in the education sector, where Microsoft has provided public schools with a free introductory programme in computing. The day care centres established under the La Case des ToutPetits programme—my pet project—train children between the ages of 2 and 6 using modern educational games— which remain a privilege of children in developed countries. These centres use computer games to make inroads into the world of computing. This project has been adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a Universal Project. Our planned University of the African Future—a university without borders to which one does not have to travel—will provide complete, real-time and carefully chosen Western university programmes via satellite. Through this programme, students will no longer have to go abroad, as their degrees will be absolutely identical—not just “equivalent”—to those issued by universities affiliated with the programme. Technological Senegal therefore wishes to gain access to the information highway instead of remaining on the periphery of the achievements of the new Millennium. There is no doubt that the new technologies suggest a higher form of democracy in which everyone moves forward at the same speed: the speed of the electron or, if you will, of the speed of light. But such democracy, accessible to all with the intelligence that is the gift of nature, can only become a reality if everyone has an opportunity to be a player in the interaction of its forces. Our desire is shared in Africa today through the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the projects we shall be submitting to the Group of Eight2 as part of our partnership with the Western world which, I would like to recall, is both a public and private partnership.

84 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Among other things, Africa is indeed giving pride of place to new information and communications technologies. We have in store numerous projects that must be supported by the public sector, but which must also be a matter for the private sector. Our partnership must therefore have the goal of providing opportunities to every country and to every man and woman. To that end, our eyes should be on the enormous international differences in computer ownership. We must strive with resolve to achieve widespread access to information and communication networks. In conclusion, I would like to make a solemn appeal to all partners: Governments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, international institutions, scientific circles and all active participants in this fascinating adventure. I urge them to join their efforts with ours and with those of the international community and of the SecretaryGeneral, who has been able to endow our institutions with a soul. Nations have become scientific laboratories backed by political decisions. That is the reason why we are gradually seeing a very deep-rooted change in how these institutions are viewed throughout the world, including in Africa. Now, we are addressing the colossal challenges posed by the digital revolution that Africa aspires to join—a continent that is standing proud because it is able to continue to assume with dignity its role in the community of nations. Bearing that in mind, I would like to join the Assembly in a toast to an enhanced partnership between the United Nations and Africa towards the full realisation of the NEPAD programme, and to a fruitful meeting of the Assembly on Information and Communication Technologies for Development.

ICT in the Service of Development ✦ Wade ✦ 85

1. President Abdoulaye Wade, in his capacity as the Coordinator for infrastructure for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), gave the keynote address to the 101st Plenary of the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at a Special Meeting on Information and Communications Technologies for Development, on June 17, 2002. This is the text of his address. 2. The Heads of State of the Group of Eight industrial nations (otherwise referred to as the “the G8”) consisting of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.


Dr. Pekka Tarjanne
Executive Coordinator United Nations ICT Task Force


The United Nations Information and Communications Technologies Task Force


“The Task Force belongs to all of us—governments, civil society, the private sector, and the organisations and agencies of the United Nations system. Let’s nurture it together.” This quote by Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, reflects the objectives the Task Force would tackle during its three-year term. The United Nations Information and Communications Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TASK FORCE) is a new global policy body established by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to bring the benefits of the global digital revolution to the developing world. Launched on 20 November 2001, the Task Force brings together 87

88 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development high-level representatives of governments, the UN system, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and the academic community, and is the first United Nations endeavour to fully incorporate world business leaders able to offer a unique perspective and expertise from their respective fields. Through this system of collective input, the Task Force has already achieved a common understanding on priorities and tasks, as well as on most effective modalities for achieving the goals set out in its mandate. The Economic and Social Council Meeting held in New York in July 5–7 2000, was devoted to the theme “Development and International Cooperation in the 21st Century: The Role of Information Technology in the Context of a Knowledge-based Economy”. Besides stressing the role of information technology for future development, the meeting proposed a set of initiatives to be taken at international level. These initiatives would promote: a. Widened access to the digital economy; b. A more transparent and efficient government that offers online services; c. An enabling legal framework; d. The development of local content; e. Regional cooperation; and f. The creation of regional observatories to monitor the impact of information technology on the economy. The General Assembly’s Millennium Declaration, adopted on 8 September 2000 at the Millennium Summit, set out an ambitious agenda in peace, security and disarmament, poverty eradication, the environment, human rights, protecting the vulnerable, meeting Africa’s special needs, and strengthening the role of the United Nations in the developing world. We in the United Nations strongly believe that ICTs are a potent tool for achieving the ambitious goals of the Millennium Declaration. In March 2001, ECOSOC requested the Secretary-General to establish an Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)

The United Nations ICT Task Force ✦ Tarjanne ✦ 89

Task Force, an initiative intended to lend a truly global dimension to the many existing efforts to put ICT at the service of development.

The Task Force

Supported by the Heads of State and Government of all UN Member States that endorsed the ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration at the Millennium Summit, the UN ICT Task Force, since its formal launch on 20 November 2001, has worked to help create a conceptual framework for harnessing the power of information and communications technologies for advancing the Millennium Declaration. In particular, the Task Force is committed to the United Nation’s goal of halving the number of people living in poverty by 2015. The Task Force understands that this mission can be best achieved by empowering developing nations to establish their own national e-strategies, improving the existing national capacities and exploring new development areas. The ICT Task Force has been working to establish and provide a global forum for integrating ICT into development programs and addressing such issues as strategy, infrastructure, enterprise, human capacity, content, application, partnerships, and policy and governance, issues related to the digital revolution at the regional and international level, facilitating the effective participation of all. By harnessing the potential of ICT, the Task Force aims to reduce poverty, promote development, end marginalisation and give the poor the means for empowerment. The Task Force intends to create innovative and bold strategies that will enable developing countries to partake of the global digital opportunity. It will work to provide the majority of the world’s population access to ICT, particularly the Internet. It will promote capacity building on the local level and work with software developers to encourage local applications that can be easily used in developing countries. The Task Force will support developing countries

90 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development in building human capacity in ICT and forging new livelihoods, especially for women in rural areas, and young women and men. In order to implement its Plan of Action and to help stakeholders to share best practices and lessons learned in ICT, the Task Force decided on the creation of six Working Groups for collaborative action: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. ICT Policy and Governance; National and Regional e-Strategies; Human Resource Development and Capacity Building; Resource Mobilisation; Low-cost Connectivity and Access; and Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.

Additionally, several Regional Nodes were created to implement some of the basic principles of the modus operandi of the Task Force, such as decentralisation of the activities, an open and inclusive approach, and reliance on existing mechanisms. The Regional Nodes have already been established in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Arab States. They will be conduits for compiling and sharing accumulated experience, identifying region-specific goals and priorities, and for supporting best practices. They will also serve for providing regional and sub-regional perspective and guidance to the activities of the Working Groups and the Task Force as a whole.

The UN ICT Task Force and Africa

ICT has unquestionably become one of the key development challenges for the African continent, and there is a need for strong partnerships and knowledge and information-sharing mechanisms to meet the challenges. On 21–22 January 2002, the UN ICT Task Force held its first African Regional Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa. The meeting concluded

The United Nations ICT Task Force ✦ Tarjanne ✦ 91

with a number of initiatives for the African Stakeholders Network. It was agreed, amongst other things, that the ASN should employ various mechanisms to identify networks working in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) area and open dialogue towards establishing common frameworks for partnerships and the sharing of resources. It would also draw on the capacity-building experiences of regional and international institutions with proven track records, such as the UN system, the Association of African University (AAU) and the Partnership for ICTs in Africa (PICTA). It was also agreed that the ASN should link-up with existing initiatives, such as the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the G8 Dot force, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the World Economic Forum and other international initiatives and programs. The UN ICT Task Force African Stakeholders Network looks at the unique challenges that Africa faces and is addressing major issues in the area of ICT for development: the role of government and the need to put in place a favourable legal, institutional and regulatory environment; the nature of connections to the richer countries, to their technology, capital and companies; and the need to train and retain skilled people, which begins with education but runs far beyond that to safety and living conditions. To accomplish this will require certain specific objectives. They include making the promotion of the ICT a key priority of the political agenda of governments, creating and strengthening existing institutional capacity, increasing the number and quality of ICT projects and programs in the relevant regions, encouraging the cooperation and establishment of public, private and civil society networks, and increasing the amount and quality of public expenditures assigned to the development of ICT. There is particular need in the African region to secure political will at the highest level possible for optimising the opportunities in an information and knowledge age for political, social, financial and cultural development.

92 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The Task Force’s ongoing efforts aim to demonstrate that the window of opportunity offered by ICTs will enable the region to address the structural roots of inequality and poverty by creating domestic prosperity and global competitiveness, and that this will contribute to a democratic process of efficient, equitable and sustainable development.

Digital Illiteracy

ICT has been able to empower individuals through knowledge, level playing fields, and opportunities in multiple spheres. ICT has not only created a new world of opportunity for global businesses, but for civil society as well, because it enables wider dissemination of information and access to best practices. This New World of opportunity, however, has been limited to the individuals fortunate enough to be able to access these technologies. Without access, history’s exponential progress is evolving without global participation, resulting in what we today call the digital divide, one of the glaring inequalities of our modern society. Reducing these inequalities calls for, among other things, a vision of information and communications technology. Its success will depend on the participation and support of all players in different sectors of society, including government, the academic world, civil society, the private sector and Non Governmental Organisations. In seeking to mobilise ICT for development in order to bridge the digital divide, we first need to know first how broad the gap is. We need to know what types of policies and programs will enable the disparate communities in the various regions to take advantage of the explosion of information available through the Internet and the opportunities promised by the new economy. We need to know how the use of information and communications technologies can help create more democratic, participatory processes.

The United Nations ICT Task Force ✦ Tarjanne ✦ 93

Internet use today reaches less than ten percent of the world’s population, a fact that must compel leaders around the world to address the impact of digital marginalisation on current government policy, international development programs, the organisation of civil society and the effectiveness of small enterprises. Yet the question is not merely one of access to the Internet, but rather one of converting information into useful knowledge. In fact, the subject is not just the Internet or the World Wide Web, but the range of technologies that are reshaping communication, and their implications for business and the economy, politics and governance of societies and, ultimately, how societies organise themselves. The impact of the information revolution touches all of society, and so the different dimensions cannot be really separated. Just like all pillars, the structure of our digital bridge begins with its base. This movement is being led by the young adults of the world, on both sides of the digital divide. Young adults from developing countries are increasingly realising the wonders of foreign cultures and customs. The tools of information technology have provided the next generation with faces and customs of alien places. People in emerging countries, striving for knowledge, have led the call for ICT accessibility. Universities and small cafés are flooded with young adults attempting to find news not available to them in their city or village. They realise how important this Knowledge Economy will prove for their future. A fundamental shift in the economics of information has been under way in the last few years, a shift that is less about any specific new technology than about the fact that a new behavior has reached critical mass. It is our challenge, responsibility and commitment to convert the access to, and the use of, the new information and communications technologies into enhanced participation, better education, more efficient public administration, and innovative business strategies. It is our mission to give societies the capabilities to seize these extraordinary opportunities and to transform the threat of digital marginalisation into digital inclusion.


Sarbuland Khan
Director for the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs


Information and Communications Technologies as an Instrument to Leverage the Millennium Development Goals

The Development Challenges

Despite real progress on some fronts, there remain dramatic disparities in levels of human development: one in five of the world’s people live on less than one dollar per day and one in seven suffers from chronic hunger. The international community has responded to the pressing need to address this state of affairs at the United Nations Millennium Summit held on 5 September, 2000, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. It agreed on the key development goals to be reached by 2015: halving the number of people living in poverty, providing universal primary education, improving health and sanitation, combating HIV/AIDS, enhancing the empowerment of women, and reversing the loss of environmental resources. 95

96 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development This consensus reflects not only the necessity of addressing poverty and other human needs, but also an emerging sense that the international community is at a crossroads in the development process. The unprecedented pace and scale of global flows in information, products, capital, people and ideas, if properly harnessed, offer the potential to create new opportunities for those who have thus far been excluded from gains in human development. But the same forces could also actually widen the gap and trap developing countries, especially least-developed countries, in a perpetual spiral of poverty and exclusion. For Africa, however, achieving these goals presents itself as a most challenging task. The contemporary African experience is characterised by mixed trends. While some countries continue to take major economical and political strides, several continue to be plagued by famine, drought, disease and political crisis. All over the continent, however, Africans are taking charge of the definition and management of their development. Fortunately, there is great willingness by the international community and African organisations to assist Africa to achieve its selfdefined sustainable development goals. The current debate on the importance of access to ICT and its value in addressing global development disparities is part of this wider discussion on the potential benefits and risks of globalisation. This is because ICT is itself a key enabler of globalisation: the level and pace of global flows in physical and intangible assets have been dramatically boosted by the ability to connect vast networks of individuals across geographic boundaries, at negligible marginal cost. This relationship between ICT and globalisation makes ICT interventions critical to development policy. Industrialised nations that have a high degree of ICT penetration also experience high levels of wealth and human development. However, there is still considerable uncertainty about the nature of the relationship between ICT and development in the developing world. Recent efforts launched by the international community—including the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (Dot Force) and the United Nations ICT Task Force—directly recognise the urgent need to harness ICT to contribute

ICT as an Instrument to Leverage the Millennium Development Goals ✦ Khan ✦ 97

to the achievement of development goals. These efforts are significant, not only because they seek to develop strategies and initiate innovative and effective action on the ground, but also because they represent and encourage new forms of collaborative interaction among government, private sector, multilateral, and non-profit organisations. ICT is not a Goal but a Tool for Development Debate regarding the effectiveness of using ICT to help achieve development goals arises not only around questions concerning the evidence in support of a relationship between ICT and development, but also more substantially from inherent doubts about the relevance of ICT to achieving sustainable development and fears that investment in ICT will draw resources away from traditional development goals. ICT can be a powerful tool for development, both because of its inherent characteristics and the mounting empirical evidence that suggests it can, in fact, contribute a great deal to development goals. It can do so at both the micro and national levels by increasing the effectiveness and reach of development interventions, enhancing good governance and lowering the costs of service delivery. Moreover, the right complement of targeted ICT interventions has the potential to play an even more substantial role in accelerating a sustainable dynamic of social and economic development in developing countries. It should be clear from the outset that ICT is not a panacea for the problems of the developing world. Social and economic development is dependent on many factors, which should be addressed through an overall development strategy. Factors such as political stability, macroeconomic governance, transparency and accountability of national and local administrations, the rule of law, physical infrastructure (for example, clean water and energy), and basic literacy should also be addressed in an explicit manner, and ICT should not be seen as a substitute. However, the integration of ICT into overall national development strategies can help facilitate implementation, expand scope and coverage, and increase the results for most of these factors. Moreover, development

98 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development goals cannot be achieved by government efforts alone. The involvement of civil society and the private sector is crucial.

Need for Strategic Partnerships

Given the scale and complexity of the challenge and the need for a multipronged response that can fill gaps and address market failures, few developing countries can be expected to succeed on their own in bridging the digital divide. There is a need for strategic partnerships at the local, regional and global levels that can bring together all stakeholders around well coordinated actions to stimulate a new development dynamic, using ICT as an enabling tool to empower the poor so that they can participate productively in the new global economy. At present there are many initiatives and activities at all levels and in all regions of the world attempting to address the digital divide. Diversity of effort is vital, since one size does not fit all. At the same time, the cumulative impact of diverse initiatives would be greatly enhanced if we could strengthen synergies, ensure complementarities, promote mutual awareness, that is, if one could more effectively support, replicate and scale up practices at work. The key element here is the involvement of all sectors and stakeholders—not only in the design of strategies, but also, and perhaps more importantly, in their implementation—in such a way that each has specific roles and responsibilities. Strategic partnerships are required to aggregate the capabilities and resources to address the pervasive market failures in developing countries and to create win-win situations for the various sectors and stakeholders involved. The government and the private sector are complementary to achieve this objective—each is dependent on the cooperation of others to accomplish its goals. A new form of collaboration and coordinated action between public, private, civil society and international organisations is needed. There is an urgent need to build upon, and go beyond, existing

ICT as an Instrument to Leverage the Millennium Development Goals ✦ Khan ✦ 99

partnerships to redefine roles and responsibilities at the global, national, and local level. Heads of government should provide the necessary leadership to confront existing barriers and promote innovative solutions. National and international private industry should work closely together to adopt, adapt and develop technologies to meet the unique needs and challenges of the less fortunate. Civil society should be a critical player and help assure that ICT is used in a way that targets and addresses specific development goals and priorities. A strong vision, which can be used to build consensus on national priorities and secure the commitment of all players involved, is vital to the success of national ICT initiatives. Moreover, it is necessary to handle space and pressure to address resistance, create ownership, and devise incentives for change. A multistakeholder task force can thus work to align the goals, incentives, roles and responsibilities of diverse stakeholders and provide win-win opportunities. Without this sort of alignment, partnerships will not be sustainable and results will fall short of expectations for all involved. Close coordination is another aspect to take into consideration in order not only to prevent duplication of efforts, but also to achieve positive synergies. Cross-fertilisation of ideas, multiple uses of ICT infrastructure and facilities, and a re-direction of available resources to crucial and under-funded areas are examples of the gains to be realised from forming this new type of collaboration and coordinated action between public, private, civil society and international organisations. The successful design and implementation of a strategy focused on ICT as an enabler of development requires the formation of national and international collaboration involving all stakeholders. For instance, at the international level, both the G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force (Dot Force) and the UN ICT Task Force1 have made substantial contributions to furthering the understanding of the role of ICT in the development process. Through sharing best practices, promoting dialogue, highlighting success stories, and building consensus on the new agenda, national and international strategic collaborations are crucial ingredients to help countries harness the benefits of ICT as a development enabler.

100 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The Engine for Change has to be the Private Sector The analysis of ICT initiatives targeting key development imperatives suggests that while individual ICT interventions can have a positive impact on social and economic development outcomes, many initiatives experience barriers to scalability and sustainability under current conditions. The first lesson learned from past experience in developing countries is that ICT solutions should be built to last. Initiatives that are planned and managed using a business model are likely to be more sustainable and have a more substantial impact. Initiatives need to include mechanisms for growth and replication into their operating models from the outset, so as to offer scalable and sustainable solutions. Secondly, initiatives should be driven by user demands, identified and realised through direct participation and ownership. Experience from many initiatives demonstrates the importance of designing initiatives to be demand-driven and locally owned. Technology imposed on a community of users who have not independently identified a need for it is unlikely to flourish. Thirdly, initiatives should be sensitive to local conditions and limitations. Technology employed should be affordable, physically accessible, easy to use and maintain, and flexible enough to accommodate user demands for new services. Similarly, initiatives demonstrating a capacity to embrace adaptive and flexible solutions are more likely to be sustainable. Finally, initiatives should be explicit about their development goals and how they will directly impact the target population. Initiatives that clearly identify development goals within the needs and context of the target population are more likely to develop effective operating models and deliver tangible results. These four lessons suggest that ICT interventions focusing on development goals must address a variety of interrelated dimensions to secure an enduring impact. But what is important to note is that those lessons constitute key core competencies that private sector companies use in their day-to-day operating lives. While grassroots

ICT as an Instrument to Leverage the Millennium Development Goals ✦ Khan ✦ 101

entrepreneurial activity is to be universally encouraged, the potential impact of these ICT interventions would be far greater had they been conceived in conjunction with private sector companies. Pursuing ICT interventions in this manner would enable the creation of synergies that stand-alone initiatives cannot achieve by themselves. In fact, there is no doubt that private sector companies could be a great asset to ICT initiatives in developing countries. Nevertheless, the interests of key stakeholders must be broadly aligned with each other and with the goals of the intervention. Identifying or engineering win-win situations is critical to securing lasting commitment from all necessary parties, including participation from the local community, private enterprises, non-government organisations, multi-lateral organisations and governments. Strong public and private institutional support and leadership are required to maintain commitment and alignment from all parties. This requires clear vision and direction, defined roles and responsibilities for all partners, adequate funding, sufficient technical and administrative means, and integration with existing local institutions. In fact, successful initiatives not only have effectively coordinated efforts in different areas, they have leveraged the synergies created by the complementarity of aligned ICT interventions. For this reason, we at the UN ICT Task Force consider not only that the private sector is the engine for change, but also that public-private partnerships under the aegis of the UN is the best way to ensure successful initiatives through the development of top-notch ‘ICT for development’ strategies.

Recent e-Initiatives

As a contribution to the global effort, many initiatives have been carried out to help mobilise, focus and coordinate action by developing a strategic approach to harnessing the benefits of ICT for sustainable development.

102 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Digital Opportunity Task Force The Dot Force was created under the Okinawa Charter on the Global Information Society, by the G8 Leaders at the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit in July 2000. Through a nine-point action plan—the Genoa Plan of Action—and several implementation teams, the Dot Force has created a number of processes in each of the priority areas of the Genoa Action Plan. A number of projects have been or are in the process of being implemented in areas such as networks of expertise on access and connectivity, human capacity building, local content, and national and regional e-strategies. United Nations ICT Task Force The UN ICT Task Force is a United Nations endeavour that aims at fully incorporating representatives from public and private sectors, nonprofit organisations, and civil society as equal members. The Task Force’s membership includes some of the world’s most prominent business leaders as full-fledged members whose decision-making powers is equal to that of the representation of governments and multilateral organisations. Each member offers a unique perspective and expertise from his or her respective field. Through this system of collective input, the Task Force has already achieved a common understanding on priorities and tasks, as well as on the most effective modalities for achieving the goals set out in its mandate. World Economic Forum The World Economic Forum benefits from the contribution of the world’s most important corporations and aims at creating partnerships among all leaders of society on major world concerns. It constitutes a platform where a selected ‘team’ analyses and articulates global issues, where task forces are formed and projects and initiatives launched.

ICT as an Instrument to Leverage the Millennium Development Goals ✦ Khan ✦ 103

Global Business Dialogue on e-Commerce Since its creation in January 1999, GBDe has represented a major step forward in the establishment of a comprehensive approach to electronic commerce issues, both by delivering a wealth of information through its website and databases and by connecting and coordinating major stakeholders in the field. The GBDe Steering Committee is divided into three regional hubs (Americas, Asia/Oceania, Europe/Africa) and focuses on eight key areas: consumer confidence, cyber security, convergence, digital bridges, e-government, intellectual property rights, trade and taxation. It has become a significant tool and a leading private sector voice on e-commerce policy and e-commerce related areas. Global Information Infrastructure Commission The GIIC Commission is a non-governmental initiative that, with the support of leaders from developed and developing countries, aims at fostering private sector leadership and enhanced private-public sector cooperation in the creation of an improved information infrastructure. Key focuses for the Commission until now have been education, healthcare and e-Government. Projects have been launched in these areas, drawing on the expertise of participating GIIC companies, and with the goal of providing a blueprint of strategies for other ICT stakeholders in the private or public sector.


We all know that in order to have tangible results, the private sector has to commit significantly and invest financially. The past years have been devoted to analyses and studies on assessments and best practices. There is now a degree of maturity in the

104 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development understanding of the issues. The question is now how to move ahead to the next phase. The level of advancement in Information and Communications Technologies takes the lead in determining the level of development in this day and age. Although the information and technological revolution is spearheading the creation of the Global Village, it is also pushing away rural and least developed societies and cultures more into their isolated margins. This trend can be reversed through the use of ICTs in achieving development goals. By partnering private, public and civic organisations, ICTs can be mobilised to achieve economic development in Africa in many significant and profound ways. One is through enhancing connectivity to rural communities, therefore giving them a heard voice. Another is through extending Microcredit (among other financial services) to small entrepreneurs and giving them an opportunity to expand and solidify their business. The range of which ICTs can enhance development is endless, and it extends beyond economic growth to cover other social aspects, such as health and education. Governments also have to show their willingness to make a commitment to mainstream ICT into development operations. A specific proportion of their official development assistance (ODA) budget could be allocated to ICT in order to increase development effectiveness (for example, in education, health, e-government, transparency). If the G8 and the rest of the developed nations do so, and major private sector initiatives can be effectively put together and pushed forward, national governments in developing countries will be encouraged to do the same. We will then have a strong message for the years to come, and a real basis for making breakthroughs with public-private partnership serving as platforms for sustainable actions and as agents for change and long lasting development.


1. For further information about the UN ICT Task Force, see Chapter Five. More information is available on the website:


Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Ph.D.
President and CEO, Telecom Africa Corporation


The Role of Information and Communications Technologies in the African Development Agenda1


I want to thank the African Training and Research Centre in Administration for Development (CAFRAD), especially its esteemed Director General, Professor Tijani Muhammed Bande, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Public Economics and Public Administration, the Ministry of Public Service and Administration of the Government of South Africa, and the NEPAD Secretariat for the invitation to exchange some ideas on Africa’s Development Agenda, and the role that information and communications technologies can play in advancing, or for that matter, in stalling that process. 105

106 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The Role of ICTs in Africa’s Development Agenda Context When we contemplate Africa’s development agenda, we are compelled to take quick stock of our present condition. In this regard, it is hardly rocket science to say that the African condition does not reflect the slightest proportion of its potential, even given the debilitation of our jaundiced colonial history, and our legacy of internecine conflicts and distractions. What is perhaps worthy of note is the fact, not too often discussed, that we need not be where we are today, given who we are, what we have, what we know and what we can do as an endowed, gifted, talented and eminently humane people. Development as Problem Solving Development is essentially problem solving. The degree to which we develop is directly related to the extent to which we take command and ownership of our problems, grasp them in their complexity, build bold strategies to overcome them, and in the process, create insights, innovations and new capacities which propel us to new heights of engagement with nature, and the challenges of the pursuit of a meaningful, inspired and enlightened existence; in other words, to a new level of problem solving. Africa’s Problems I must first distinguish between what our problems truly are, and what others say our problems are. The first enables us to solve them, the second compels us to risk wasting our limited resources responding to insights that could seriously lack truth or efficacy or, if they have relevance, could seriously serve to mis-direct our focus and efforts to peripheral problems, which mask our more serious and more fundamental challenges. I should also state that in talking about Africa’s problems, I do not seek to lend value for a split second to the chorus of relentless castigation

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 107

of all Africa is or does. Such irresponsible arrogance and ignorance have served no purpose except to undermine our self-confidence, make us doubt our view of ourselves and of the world, and compel us to abandon our legitimate right to own our problems and enjoy the enrichment that comes with solving them. What then is really Africa’s problem? What is wrong? What is missing? What are we not getting right? Why? These are all critical questions any group of people must address in order to build a vision for development against which to create an agenda with which to accomplish it. These are tough questions, the analysis of which might be painful, even frightening, threatening to pull the veil of survival from our cowered faces. But history has never devised any means of solving critical human questions without confronting sometimes painful and harsh realities in the process of solving them. Our basic problem is that we do not allow ourselves the profound experience of taking ownership of our problems and settling down to deal with them with relentless focus, commitment, confidence, hope and exhilaration. For much of our recent history, the world has taken over Africa’s problems and often left us with nothing creative to do but watch our destiny float in the air like a listless balloon, blown in the wind until it drifts over the horizon, destined for nowhere. Not only that, the world has taken over our right of ownership of our problems, our right and responsibility to solve them, and our right to the innovation, creativity and self-actualisation that come out of a committed, passionate and indefatigable confrontation with our problems, with the promise of joy and exhilaration when we overcome them and move on to tackle the next set of problems. This is the fundamental dynamics of nation-building. This is the basis of the development of most of the countries of the industrial world, which we find ourselves incessantly being pushed to use as the yardstick for building our own societies. Africa has got to be the only continent in the world where many seek to dictate our development goals, while we play second-fiddle to some who may never have known what it is to wake up to the mystery of the African dawn.2

108 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Requiem to Private Dialogue One of the liabilities of information and communications technology is that we can no longer hold private conversations on issues of pressing common interest. The kind of dialogue I would like us to have this morning is the type that our ancestors used to be able to have, under the old baobab tree, far away from the ears of those whose presence might constitute a potential embarrassment, thus limiting our freedom to deal with our concerns with absolute candour and vigour. The mass media, combined with the blinding spotlight on Africa and her problems, shuts out our ability to engage in sober reflection, the type which is not only enlightening, but enriching, enabling and empowering. But given the fact of the loss of privacy conducive to sober selfanalysis, something that we can do nothing about, we are left with two difficult choices: We go on engaging in pat conversations which, while preserving our image, allow our critical problems to fester; or we find the courage to address our critical problems, in private if we can, but publicly if we have no choice. Either way, our problems will only disappear if we boldly address them, so the only choice is to address them, whatever the audience, conceding nothing but the nominal courtesies of civilised behaviour to those who insist on abusing the priviledge of overhearing us and speaking to us. We must, therefore, in our present circumstances, choose to take ownership and command of our problem-solving process, otherwise called our development process, whatever the surrounding public, whoever is present. It is the compelling and quintessential first step in prosecuting our development process.

The African Development Agenda In this light, let us address the African Development Agenda and how we can use the facilitation of ICTs to prosecute it. Do we have an African Development Agenda? And if so, what is it?

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 109

The Evolution of an Agenda It is my humble opinion that there is a simple path to developing a common agenda. It requires that first we take stock of where we are, where we have been, how we got here, where we really want to go, how we get there, what we have to work with, and how we recognise our dreamland when we get there. This, to me, is a necessary scenario for a development agenda. First, there must be common dialogue from which we develop a popular vision. The matching up of our experience, our resources (human, intellectual, emotional, cultural, historical and material) and our commitment against the challenges of this vision is the creative process by which we define a common agenda. The Quintessence of Information and Communications Technologies The tool for conducting such a mass process, the tool for engaging men and women, young and old, rich and poor, in crafting a common future on the wealth of culture and experience, positive and negative, the tool which enables us to express ourselves articulately in our own context, and for others to hear us some distance away, and for us to hear them too, is the fundamental element of information and communications culture. The enhancement of this process to give it speed and distant reach, to store it for future use, even far from its origin, the application of the innovation of science and technology to enable us conduct this critical dialogue faster, more widely and more frequently, this is the quintessence of information and communications technology or ICT. Seen in this light, some might argue that we do not yet have a coherent African Development Agenda. The dialogue about our destiny has been more often than not conducted between our leaders and their international counterparts, not between them and us, on issues presumed to be important, not those we all know to be important because we know where it hurts. We live with our problems as much as we live with our dreams, and at the end of the day, we cannot be lulled to sleep

110 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development through time with the lullabies of distant voices while others live our lives for us, often with less expertise about us than we possess. If we do, we will wake up one day in the future, shocked by the humiliating fact that we have simply slept and snored through time and history, while not only the world but also our life itself passed us by.

Diagnostics of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)

This is the context in which we must examine Africa’s development agenda. Because, if we allow ourselves to critique our premier development agenda, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (or NEPAD), we see some of the elements of the trauma of our development dilemma. I must emphasize that in diagnosing NEPAD, I do not wish to provide fodder for its external criticism, but instead, to commence the process of our reconstruction of it to regain ownership of it so that we can implement it as Africa’s Vision for a Better Tomorrow. I would like us to boldly take it apart, examine it, re-design it, reconstruct it, and bring it out, strong, empowered, inspiring, commanding, and emboldened. For only an agenda with such attributes, an agenda deriving from the deepest passions and hopes of Africans themselves, an agenda built on the foundation of a common cause and a common vision, can drive the quantum development we so badly need to engage in, for both a better future as well as for the inspiration of the very process of self-development. I also do not wish to leave the false impression of neglecting the protocol of courtesies due one’s host, by discussing NEPAD’s challenges in public. The problem is that we are in public, and we either speak to ourselves with candour and affection so that we can get our agenda right, or we refuse to engage in critical debate, and we abandon our destiny to those who have no compelling reason to risk our displeasure by engaging us in such disputation.

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 111

NEPAD is, today, Africa’s Development Agenda. As such we have the obligation to examine it critically so that, should it have flaws, we can identify them, analyse them, and devise appropriate means of rectifying them. In this spirit, permit me to make two observations about NEPAD as they relate to the workings of Information and Communications Technologies. At the beginning, we failed to get NEPAD right because we did not dialogue with the people. NEPAD, or its precursors, were developed in camera. Worse yet, NEPAD was developed in consultation with the rest of the world to the virtual exclusion of the vast majority of Africans who could not get a hold of even the preliminary documentation of the ideas feeding the process. We also made a major symbolic error, twice over. In 2001, when it was still under a different name, the New Initiative for Africa, we presented Africa’s vision to the G8 Summit in Genoa before it was presented to African leaders in Lusaka at the final OAU Summit. The next year, NEPAD was again presented in final form to the G8 Summit in Canada before it found its way to the Summit of the African Union in Durban. Minor, one might say, but in a process where African ownership was critical for enthusiastic support and buy-in, such symbolic faux pas have more debilitating impact than might appear on the surface.

The Importance of Popular Participation in the Creation of a Common Vision for Africa

Just imagine a different scenario, one in which we used the basic facilitation of ICT—newspapers, radio and television—to discuss the idea of Africa’s vision for the twenty-first century clear across this continent. Imagine that we printed millions of copies of the basic ideas, in as many African languages as we could, distributed them to schools, churches, civic organisations, companies, newspapers and more. Imagine if our leaders took to the road to dialogue with the people, challenging them,

112 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development being challenged by them, in hearty disputation for which Africans are renowned. Just imagine that during this process, we had the opportunity to hear from all corners of this continent, diverse views about how each of us sees the world, our place in it, what we truly want for Africa, what our dreams as Africans are, our fears, our anxieties, our limitations, even our pain and hope. Just imagine that at the end of the day, we then collated these expressions, processed them, documented them in beautiful language reflective of our sonorous heritage, and replayed them in all the media for the people to review, absorb, internalise and regurgitate in their own voice and mind frame. The result would be Africa’s vision. This vision would have been created and crafted by Africans. And for that reason, we would have ownership of it. And by owning it, we would be responsible for making it work, because it would be our vision, not the vision of our political leaders only or, for that matter, the vision of their friends and colleagues. The result would be a fundamental principle of good governance, namely, that if you take the people along with you in shaping your agenda, they will share the joy of accomplishment with you. And should things go wrong, they will share the blame with you, because it was their programme, not just yours. But if you leave the people on the sideline as mere observers, people who merely wave flags along dusty roadsides to welcome our distinguished guests when they should be in school learning or at home reading a book, then when things go wrong, they still blame us, because we kept them out of the process, and now we must find the solution all by our lonely self. So, the first role of ICTs in the African Development Agenda is to utilise them for engaging the totality of the people in building a common vision for self-development and joint ownership of a common destiny. In this regard, there is a plethora of innovative applications of existing communications technology to craft custom-tailored use of ICTs at all levels of society, in all communities, with remarkable positive result. We can use IP technology to create inexpensive rural broadcasting. If people talk to each other and understand each other, it becomes more

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 113

difficult for them to fight each other, or worse still, for others (often those of us from the cities) to start our quarrels in urban centres, and ask innocent people in the villages to die for us while we and our children head for Europe and America when the seeds of our machinations come to violent fruition. Our farmers and herdsmen have the unique wisdom of history and tradition. They also endure hardships of terrain, weather, inadequate communications and transport resources to improve their productivity and engage in leisure and self-development, which is their legitimate expectation after toiling in the sun to feed us. We can use the facilitation of ICTs to reduce their tedium and physical effort, vastly improve their productivity, find higher income for their products, and enable their wives and children to gain formal education, have access not only to treatment but to preventive medical care, and provide them with the opportunity to both enjoy the cultural products of others, as well as to showcase and share their own creative products clear across the world through Internet and e-Commerce resources and facilities.

ICT and Self-Development

It is commonly agreed that information and communications technologies constitute the basis of the New Economy in which the old assumptions of wealth and poverty, strength and weakness, have been turned upside down. ICTs form versatile tools for transforming economies in leaps and bounds. They provide avenues for innovation and creativity, which result in the development of intellectual property, the most valuable asset in today’s economy. The examples of India, China and elsewhere are compelling. But these benefits accrue only to those who take these tools, master them, and use them to create new or better goods and services. They do not aid development if we merely buy and use them, adding yet another expensive item to Africa’s perpetually growing shopping expenditure.

114 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development We must use ICT tools to create processes and applications, which both expand our intellectual scope and improve our quality of life, and also enhance our productivity and earning power, thus enabling us to have some time for leisure, rest and reflection. We must use them for innovation, creating new products that bring us much greater valueadded returns. ICTs are essentially toys, sometimes expensive toys, which also sometimes have this habit of creating a lot of wealth for those who might not have had the advantage of inheritance wealth. ICT and Administration ICT tools also can save us time and energy if we pass unto them the tedium of routine. If we calculate the energy and time we spend in Africa criss-crossing town or country just to obtain or deliver basic information, or the time we spend just trying to access basic information, we realise that we can pass on such routine to ICT tools. This will free us to do that which we must do, which ICTs cannot do, and which we are most designed to do as human beings, namely, to reflect, make judgement, and manage the complex intangibles of human response to nature that are triggered everyday by our intervention with the dynamics of time in our daily lives. But in this regard, we must understand the limitations of ICTs. As tools, they do not have a life of their own, and should not be allowed to. Machines must not think for us, for if they do, lacking the complexity of our human mind, they will not be able to make the critical differentiation between data and interpretation, which sometimes makes the difference between life and death. In this regard, the experience of those who have preceded us at the cutting edge of ICT deployment should serve to underscore the pre-eminence of the human mind. ICT and Modernisation In the same line, those of us who have the deficit of inadequate technology must not abandon our historical means of self-development, putting

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 115

in abeyance our dreams until ICTs arrive at our doors. Instead, we should seek to enrich these traditional processes, refine and enlarge them, and in the process, see where technology can aid our inherent and indigenous system through greater speed and repetitive capacity. After all, our lives’ purpose is not to become what I would like to call “technotrons”, or robots, but to use the tools of technology to enrich our human quality. Information versus Knowledge and Wisdom ICTs have their downside. They have a remarkable way of undermining our human capacity by misleading us into ceding to them the prime roles of the human species, feeling, thinking and understanding. I have argued in a speech referred to in one of your working papers, that the preponderance of undifferentiated data piled on the platform of our minds has so overwhelmed us that our capacity to think has become inversely proportional to the weight of such data.3 In other words, the misguided replacement of ICT for our uniquely human process has led to those who have the best of ICT becoming the least capable of reflection and analysis. The consequences of this, in global proportions, are increasingly becoming self-evident. If we in Africa mimic this strategic mistake, which is fast evolving into a fatal flaw that threatens to place all humanity at risk, we stand to lose a lot more, because we would lose our human capacity without even the consolation of having at least once benefited from technology access and capacity.

Technological Capacity, Research and Development

In Africa, we have tried to address the issue of the cost of acquiring the tools and services of ICT. However, we have done so merely on the level of creating shopping lists and finding the money to buy. This is contrary to how others have addressed the challenge. To build its communications

116 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development capacity to meet its need, China invested heavily in research and development, and with that in manufacturing. As a result, it was able to roll out more telecommunications lines per year than we have had throughout the continent, and is today, the world leader in the use of mobile telephones. Now Chinese salesmen have joined the long line of American and European ICT merchants who travel all over Africa selling us every tiny bit of ICT tools and equipment. India is another example. Despite having one of the highest poverty levels in the world, India has become a leading exporter of ICT technology and software. I have argued that the only way to create affordable ICT access in Africa, and to expand its rollout massively, is to build our own industrial capacity in R&D and manufacturing in Africa.4 It is quite a simple proposition. We buy the equipment. If we shift these funds to manufacture them, we not only get what we need cheaper, in much greater quantity, and more attuned to our specific needs, we create industries in the process, with jobs, benefit and pride. This should be a major part of our development agenda: To create industrial capacity in ICT (as indeed in other spheres of strategic development) and to push and support our Africans who are fighting to have a niche in this area. ICT, Abject Materialism and the African Genius We in Africa must resist the dangerous notion that at the end of the day life is about money. Everyday we see what money cannot buy, and it is frightening. ICT innovation is more genius than money. A year or so ago, a young African man, a young South African, got worried about the traumatic experience of having a mobile phone snatched from people on the street. He was more concerned about the risk of bodily harm than of the material loss of a handset. So he set his mind to find a technological solution. He came up with a way to place photo images and contact information directly on the LCD screens of handsets, in a manner so indelible that you will have to damage the screen to remove the image. Stolen phones have been recovered from this technology.

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 117

I lost my personalised handset while flying from New York to Miami. I got a phone call a couple days later from a gentleman saying he found a handset with my photo and contact number on the screen, which he promptly mailed to me. The South African police recognise the immense importance of this invention in their crime reduction efforts. So do law enforcement officials in Africa, Europe, and elsewhere. Telecom Africa Corporation has the pleasure of deploying this African ICT invention, called the Visual Identification Technology (VIT), globally. With your indulgence, I would like to introduce This young African ICT genius, Mr. Edward Modisakgosi, is only one of many African ICT geniuses.

Africa’s Global ICT Expertise

ICT is not magic, the appearance of things notwithstanding. African men and women are amongst those who are building ICT technologies for the global companies. We have not tried to know who they are, what they can do, and how to encourage them to do it for Africa. This is partially because we have contracted out the strategic responsibility for such critical capacity building assessment to those who have no particular reason to cede their control of our economy back to African experts. The time has come for our leaders at all levels to recognise that the responsibility of development includes supporting the right and responsibility of African experts to take the first shot at building this continent. People build capacity by solving their problems at home. If all our problems are contracted out to others to solve, what is left for African experts? We compel them to go abroad and seek employment from the very companies we have enriched and empowered through contracting out our problems to them to solve, thus enabling such companies to profit on African solutions twice removed, from African money through hired African expert labour.

118 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development ICT and the Telecom Africa Corporation In all of these, some of us have worked hard, and continue to work hard, to create the strategic environment for building Africa’s globally competitive capacity in ICT as a means of not only jumpstarting our selfdevelopment, but also to have the tools for global competitiveness in a global economy. At Telecom Africa Corporation, we have tried to address some of these issues within the context of Africa’s capacity to drive its own ICT development. Specialised Governance Networks In the area of networked administration, Telecom Africa Corporation is in the process of building an Inter-Ministerial Network for the Presidency of Mali. This secure Intranet will link all the 23 government Ministries to the Presidency and the Office of the Prime Minster, providing facilities for Point-to-Multipoint voice, data, Internet, and video-conferencing facilities. At the African Regional Preparatory Conference for next year’s World Summit on Information Society, which took place in Bamako last May, we had the pleasure of demonstrating this network. Upon perfecting this model in Mali, Telecom Africa Corporation plans to offer it to African governments across the continent. We trust that we can count on you to support us, as your own African ICT company. We are all you have, really. And the sooner you empower us as a deliberate strategic policy, the sooner we will be able to enter the global competition to bring back revenue and profits to build Africa. Telecom Africa Corporation is collaborating with Hewlett Packard and Plessey in the Mali project. Global Diplomatic Networks Similarly, we are in the processing of designing a prototype global diplomatic network to link the embassies of an African country to its Foreign Ministry and Government. Again, once we perfect this model, we will offer it across the continent.

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 119

Strategic Networks We are also working on developing other strategic networks for Africa, which would greatly advance the access to critical information and enhance decision-making processes. Software Development: The Digital Factory ICT networks are driven by software and applications. To promote broad-based African capacity in cutting edge software development, Telecom Africa Corporation has engaged in a project with Sun Microsystems and the Office of the Governor, State of California Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency to build African capacity to develop software for the global market through sub-contracting and outsourcing from major companies around the world. The Digital Factory, as the project is named, will not only become our Bangalore, but will generate taxable hard currency for African countries. Support of such a project by African Governments and their global partners is in our mutual interest. Manufacturing Telecom Africa Corporation has been collaborating with a major Chinese firm to manufacture optical fibre transmission equipment and cables in Africa. When built, such a venture will drastically reduce the cost of telecommunications infrastructure, enabling us to accelerate the rollout of infrastructure and to replace those that have become obsolete or inadequate.

The Telecom Africa Virtual Research Laboratory

Technology is not viable without research and development. The perception that R&D is esoteric for Africa is patently disingenuous. Promoting Research and Development is an investment in creating vastly

120 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development multiplied revenue levels while enhancing scientific capacity in Africa. What is quite disturbing in this regard is that African governments have made no effort to make building research and development facilities in Africa a condition for major contract opportunities. This is how the Chinese got their research and development, as well as manufacturing investments. Strategic policy on the part of African governments is critical in compelling commitments in this area. Many companies operating in ICT in Africa have built impressive research laboratories in Asia. The fact is not that the African market cannot sustain similar investments, but that it is clear to these companies that African governments will not demand it. You only get what you ask for! In this regard, we are working on building a Telecom Africa Virtual Research Laboratory, which will enable African scientists worldwide and others so disposed to undertake research and development work online in a secure Intranet. When such research gets to the advanced stage where it requires in-laboratory experimentation, it will then be taken offline and brought indoors, so to speak.

Revisiting NEPAD and Making it Work

At the outset, I sought to discuss flaws in NEPAD with a view to showing how the process we take to vision-building can help or hurt popular buy-in and ownership of common goals. I did that because NEPAD is the only African game in town. As such, it must succeed. This can only happen if all of us take ownership of it, and with passion and enthusiasm, reconstitute it to fit Africa’s own priorities and vision. Then we can give it all we have to make it work. For this to happen, those who manage it must acknowledge through proclamation and action, the recognition of the strategic position that building Africa’s future is not only the responsibility of Africans, but also their right. It is in solving Africa’s problems that we build the capacity, which we later

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 121

can deploy elsewhere to create wealth for the continent and ourselves. We are up to the challenge and indeed have no choice, because who else will develop this continent, except ourselves?

Africa’s Place in the World We tend to be enamoured of our struggle to acquire attributes others require of us as essential to our right of passage to global citizenship. In the process, we suspend our own dreams about the world we need to build for ourselves so that we can live, learn, love and dream, grow and create, in an environment of peace, confidence, trust, and a profound sense that the world belongs to us no less than it belongs to others. We must insist that we too do have an idea as to what will make this world a better place, and that when we have built our own world on the basis of our own aspirations, not the expectations of others, we will turn to the world at large and make our indelible imprint on it. That imprint will be informed and enriched by a culture, which no body has had the courage or the disingenuity to question as less than one of the marvels of the history of human existence and expression. It will be informed, also, by the eminent truth that as the children of one of the oldest civilizations of mankind, Africans embody a unique history of coping with intangible challenges of human existence, a capacity our world could gain a lot from as we ponder what the world has come to.

Africa’s Right and Responsibility to Help Shape our Common World And there are sound reasons for insisting on the right of our view of our world and the reluctance to seek to secure what we are not. If we learn

122 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development anything from the events of the last year and more, as we beat the drums of war so soon after the celebration of the end of the twentieth century and hailed the promise of a new Millennium, it is that no one has the answers to what is right for the world. This is heartening, in some way, in that it compels us to re-examine the devastating castigation of us as ne’er-do-wells. We must dump our pessimism and strike out to build a better world for all of us, knowing that we too do know much and have much to contribute. Our guess is as good as anyone else’s.

Equanimity and the Right and Responsibility of Nation-Building

That being the case, we should relax, take a deep breath and embark on building our dream Africa which only we can mastermind. Then, and only then, after we have determined where we really want to go, can those who are our friends figure out how to help us. That is the legitimate framework for development assistance, and indeed, of friendship. We each run our lives, and help each other to make it better for each other and for all of us together. We do not cede our right and responsibility to shape our future, our destiny and therefore our legacy to others, friend or foe, in the mistaken idea that they can or will develop us while we sleep through time and history. We cannot deprive our people of the right, responsibility and opportunity to build this African continent by negotiating away the opportunities inherent in solving our problems on the spurious and grossly erroneous idea that others possess capacities we do not have, even financial, when we have not tried to know what expertise and resources Africans do truly possess, at home and throughout the Diaspora, and how we can partner with our own people to build our common future.

The Role of ICT in the African Development Agenda ✦ Okpaku ✦ 123

Meeting the Challenge of Our Tomorrow

Where do we go from here? That is the common challenge we must jointly address. We must ask those whom we have chosen to guide our political and administrative development to find the courage to believe in our ability to build this continent. It is a plea for reciprocal confidence. We have shown our confidence in their ability to govern and lead. We come from the same stock as they do. If they can lead our political destiny, surely they must admit that those of us who are as competent and as trained as any of our counterparts anywhere in the world, can also lead our economic, scientific and social development. This way, when we take ownership of our development problems and strike out to find their solutions, we shall have begun Africa’s March of Progress with excellent prospects of success and sustained will and enthusiasm. Then we will enjoy the profound joy of the accomplishment of building our own lives and our future. We, each of us, can one day take our children and grandchildren down the road, into our industries, markets and institutions, into museums, libraries and archives, and show them what little part of this great continent’s heritage each of us helped to build. Above all, I have allowed myself the priviledge of candour only because I believe that it is something we must do now. I do not for a moment wish to leave the impression that all is bad. On the contrary, I am bullish about this beautiful continent and its gifted people. But I am impatient about the way we have delayed getting this train out of the station. Nor do I mean to suggest that we do not need our friends. On the contrary, as Africans, we honour and treasure friendship. I simply mean to say that owning our future is a fundamental right and responsibility which we cannot cede, not after all that this continent has gone through. I am sure deep down, our true friends do understand, for which I thank you.

124 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development

1. A keynote address to the CAFRAD Regional Workshop on Building e-Governance Capacity in African Countries, held in Johannesburg, South Africa, 28–31 October, 2002. The Workshop was sponsored by the African Training and Research Centre in Administration for Development (CAFRAD), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs—Division for Public Economics and Public Administration (UNDESA/DPEPA), and the Ministry for Public Service and Administration of the Government of South Africa, under the auspices of NEPAD. 2. See Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Ownership of Problems, Intellectual Property and the Digital Divide—The Enabling Challenge of Solutions, An address to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Second International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property, Geneva, September 19–21, 2001. 3. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., E-Culture, Human Culture and In-Between: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century Digital World, ITU Conference on Creating New Leaders for e-Culture Conference, Coventry, United Kingdom, August 20–24, 2001. 4. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Telecom Africa: Building Africa’s Global Competitiveness In The 21st Century, A keynote address to the Africa TELECOM ’98 Strategic Summit, Johannesburg, May 8, 1998.


Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane
Director, Development Information Services Division, Economic Commission for Africa


Regional Information and Communications Technologies Developments
The AISI Perspective


In his foreword to a Policy Research Report by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), K. Y. Amoako, the Executive Secretary of the organisation, stated that “the most striking contrasts in the modern world are the vast differences in technological development and human well-being—differences most evident in Africa. Poverty and hunger are widespread. AIDS has cut life expectancy by more than 10 years in some countries. Forests are being depleted at the rate of an acre a second due to unsustainable farming practices. And technological development is woefully deficient. In many cases it is the poor, particularly women and children, who suffer the most. They live in environmentally fragile areas, depend on marginal lands, are exposed to health hazards and natural 125

126 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development disasters, have very little coping capacity, and have hardly any assets to fall back upon in times of crisis”. “This Report,” he said, “is about how African societies can reverse these alarming trends. Its main message is that harnessing new and emerging technologies is critical for development”.1 The above observations on biotechnology also apply to the use of ICT for development in Africa. In fact, they can be considered as some of the reasons that led to the launch of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI): Harnessing Information and Knowledge for Africa’s Development.2 Since its inception, AISI has been the backbone of major ICT development of the continent. Adopted by the Conference of Ministers in 19963, the initiative has successfully created a framework within which national stakeholders, as active and central players, set their own courses of action and implement projects based on their priorities and development goals. With the support of various bilateral and multilateral partners, a number of African countries launched innovative ICT initiatives within the AISI framework. Recently, Niger joined 29 other countries4 to formulate their National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) plan. Other countries, like Senegal and Mozambique, have started implementation of the plans and the development of sectoral applications. ICT programmes in Africa have moved to a dynamic phase. The importance of ICT for development has been widely recognised, and policy and decision makers are committed to the establishment of a sustainable information society in their own countries, which is evident in the increasing number of innovative ICT plans and projects. The role of the Economic Commission for Africa is to co-ordinate the work of AISI. ECA has been assisting the countries to create an enabling environment for ICT for development through these NICI plans, strategies and participation in regional and global fora to make Africa’s voice better heard. ECA is also in partnership with national counterparts and donors to implement sectoral applications. The progress is monitored and

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 127

evaluated through the SCAN-ICT5 Programme. One of the key aspects of ECA’s assistance to AISI is the promotion of partnership and Cupertino mechanisms at national and regional levels as well as with multilateral and bilateral donors so as to avoid duplications and waste of scarce resources. However, the challenges Africa is facing are numerous and wide in scope. ECA is ready to deepen and widen its consultation and collaboration with national and international actors to accelerate the development of ICTs in Africa. This chapter focuses on major ICT activities recently implemented in the context of AISI. It also intends to extract and share good practices and lessons learned and to suggest recommendations for future activities.

Progress Made in Creating an Enabling Environment for ICT Activities in Africa

Information and communications technologies can contribute enormously to influence our countries’ economic and social development. Significant progress has been made in advancing ICT as an integral component of national and regional development agenda through national information and communication technology policies and plans, and by creating the necessary economic, institutional, social, legal and fiscal environments. Development of National Information and Communications Technologies Policies and Strategies Major efforts in the development of national strategies in Africa have been undertaken within the framework of AISI. The development of National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) plans, strategies and policies are considered an important implementing tool of AISI. A large number of African countries have strived to develop

128 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development their NICI plans that articulate long-term policy, infrastructure, content and application strategies as an integral part of their overall national development goals. The NICI development process has its roots in the vision of AISI. NICI provides the framework within which ICTs are mainstreamed into the national planning process in order to facilitate the achievement of national and sectoral development priorities and objectives. It is an ongoing process through the planning, implementation and regular evaluation of programmes and projects developed according to the needs and priorities of each country. Below are examples of recent NICI developments. More detailed information is available at
Djibouti: Djibouti recently started its NICI development process. A con-

sultative workshop was organised in May 2002. Consultation meetings were scheduled to start in November 2002.
Ethiopia: Ethiopia endorsed its ICT policy document in 2002 and

launched an aggressive policy implementation plan. One of the objectives is to offer increasing access to information and communications at district levels.
Ghana: In Ghana, the NICI process was officially re-launched by the

Government in August 2002. A NICI Committee was set up and an implementation plan drawn. Consultations with stakeholders have started.
Malawi: An ICT policy development process is underway in Malawi,

based on the ICT policy framework document that was submitted to high level government officials in June 2002.
Mali: Mali set up a new NICI Committee in May 2002. Several consultative workshops with stakeholders were organised. A baseline study covering the major cities of Mali has been launched. Mozambique6: Following a national ICT Policy Implementation Sym-

posium in October 2001, Mozambique launched a number of catalytic

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 129

projects in human capacity development, infrastructure building, applications and content in health and education, e-government, policy and regulatory frameworks, provincial growth, enterprise development with focus on youth, gender and access issues.
Niger: After the official launching of the NICI plan by the Prime Minister of Niger in July 2002, a NICI Committee was set up. A baseline study covering all provinces, ministries, government agencies, NGOs and the private sector is underway. Rwanda: The Rwanda NICI Plan has been finalised and its implementa-

tion launched by the President in February 2002. Ministries have started developing sectoral plans out of the main plan. A funding conference is scheduled to take place early in 2003.
Tanzania: Through its ICT Policy Task Force and a national e-think tank,

the government of Tanzania produced an ICT policy document that was presented and debated by key stakeholders in May 2002.
Uganda: Uganda completed its ICT policy formulation in 2002. The

development of an ICT policy implementation plan in key sectors identified in the policy document is underway.

Regional Information and Communication Initiatives

The role of ICTs for regional integration and co-operation has gained considerable attention. As a result, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are taking a leading role in regional consultations and studies, such as the harmonization of policies, regulatory frameworks, infrastructure, and more. Examples include:
ICT for Regional Integration for the Economic Community for Central Africa States (CEMAC): The Economic Community of Central African

States (CEMAC) organised a workshop on ICT for regional integration in Yaounde, in September 2002. The workshop adopted the Yaounde

130 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Declaration, which made key recommendations, including harmonization of the ICT sector in the CEMAC countries, sharing of resources and the creation of the Central African countries Association of Regulators (ARAC). The CEMAC Heads of State will adopt the Declaration in December 2002.
Regulatory Harmonisation in Economic Community for Western Africa States (ECOWAS): In order to facilitate the harmonization of national

sectoral policies, the ECOWAS Council of Ministers established an ECOWAS Consultative Regulatory Committee for Telecommunications to ensure the consistent and co-ordinated regulation of telecommunications within the Community. A West African Telecommunications Regulators Association (WATRA) was officially established in June 2002. A study on the harmonization of West African telecommunication regulations is underway7.
Regional ICT Development in Southern African Development Community (SADC): Countries of the Southern African Development Community

(SADC) are a step ahead of the other regions. Several studies on ICT have been undertaken and meetings and workshops organised. A Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology and a Declaration on Information and Communications Technology were adopted by SADC, which has a Southern Africa Transport and Communications Commission. The SADC Region was also the first one to establish an association of regulators, the Telecommunications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (TRASA).8
The UEMOA Initiatives in ICT: In 2001, the Council of Ministers of the

UEMOA adopted a recommendation on a programme of action for improving ICT infrastructure and services in its region. This recommendation aims at harmonising the regulatory frameworks, the creation of a committee of regulators, and a forum of operators and service providers, the promotion of new ICTs, and liberalisation of the national telecom markets. The West African Development Bank

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 131

(BOAD) is expected to undertake a study in developing a fiber optic regional network.9
The ADF III ICT Focus Group on Regional Integration:10 During the third

edition of the African Development Forum (ADF) on Regional Integration, held in March 2002, the ICT Focus Group met to explore the role of ICTs in Regional Integration. A portal on regional integration was also launched during this event.11 Since its existence, the ADF has registered significant impact and rapidly gained recognition as an effective forum for informed dialogue and consensus building on urgent development issues of relevance to Africa, and for agreeing on implementation priorities and strategies at national, sub-regional and regional levels. ADF 199912 focused on ways to accelerate the information revolution in Africa. A considerable amount of technical information was prepared during ADF ’99 and is still being used and referred to by member States and experts doing studies on Africa. Improving Digital Opportunities for Africa: The African Regional Conference of the WSIS A significant event in improving digital opportunities for Africa took place in Bamako in May 2002. The African regional conference, known as Bamako 200213, was held in Bamako, Mali, under the auspices of His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali. Bamako 2002 was a Ministerial level meeting, Africa being the first continent to organise a regional conference in line with the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Bamako 2002 focused on facilitating an understanding of the benefits that can be drawn from the global information society, the contributions the continent could make towards its goals and the cultural heritages and values it should preserve through this dynamic process. The conference brought together about one thousand participants

132 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development drawn from government, civil society, the private sector, as well as development partners. Various bilateral and multilateral partners as well as the private sector and the civil society supported it. Bamako 2002 also provided an opportunity to revisit and evaluate the implementation of the recommendations of the first African Development Forum (ADF ’99) and Bamako 2000.14 The conference was a unique opportunity to renew the commitment of member States and bilateral and multilateral development partners of Africa for the attainment of the visions enshrined in the African Information Society Initiative (AISI). Participants in Bamako 2002 unanimously agreed on a set of principles and recommendations for developing a common African vision for an information society, known as the Bamako Declaration.15 A Task Force, Bamako 2002 Bureau16, with ECA serving as a secretariat, has been established to carry out the major recommendations and work with the WSIS secretariat. The Bureau is chaired by Mali, with members composed of one country from each sub-region, and representatives of the civil society and the private sector. The Bamako 2002 Bureau and ECA met several times during the First Preparatory Conference for the WSIS (PrepCom 1)17, which was held from 1–5 July 2002, in Geneva, Switzerland, to explore ways and means to implement the Bamako Declaration and continue the activities it suggested. The Africa Group requested ECA to serve also as the Secretariat for Africa’s participation in the WSIS activities and ensure that Africa will develop a common plan of action.

Sectoral Applications Initiatives

As stated earlier, the creation of an enabling policy and regulatory environment is essential to ensure that actions initiated in the ICT infrastructure development and sectoral applications are encouraged. Although ICTs are cutting across many sectors, a few sectoral applications

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 133

have gained attention in Africa in recent years, based on the priorities of individual countries. These include education, health, business and trade, and governance. Education and Capacity Building The agenda for ICT and education in Africa can be strengthened through E-education initiatives, such as the African Learning Network18, which supports school networks (e.g. SchoolNet), university networks (e.g. VarsityNet), networks of research institutes (e.g. African Knowledge Network Forum—AKNF19) and networks for marginalised people (e.g. Out of School Youth Network—OosyNet). The launching of SchoolNet Africa20 and the conference on ICTs and higher education held at the end of July 2002, in Addis Ababa, are some of the activities that have been undertaken with respect to implementing the African Learning Network. The conference was organised under the aegis of the Four Foundations Partnership (Ford/Carnegie/MacArthur/ Rockefeller), in collaboration with ECA. Furthermore, in an attempt to address the needs of policy makers on the challenges and use of ICTs for Africa’s development, the Information Technology Centre for Africa (ITCA)21, in co-operation with USAID/ Leland, developed a training manual and delivered training courses for policymakers. In addition, in co-operation with the World Bank’s InfoDev program and CISCO Systems, ITCA launched a training course in Internet networking technology, in 2001 and 2002, for two groups of African women from 41 African countries. Business and Trade As a result of ADF ’99 on “The Challenge to Africa of Globalisation and the Information Age”, a “Pan-African Initiative on e-Commerce”, was commissioned by IDRC and ECA with the objective of developing policy and strategy advice for African Governments. African Trade Ministers

134 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development met in Libreville, Gabon, in November 2000, to discuss issues related to an active and early African participation in e-commerce. More recently, sub-regional level workshops in Mauritius (April 2001, for Eastern and Southern Africa) and Senegal (October 2001, for Central and Western Africa) have been conducted on the use of ICTs to enhance competitiveness of SMEs in Africa. Health Care Services The World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the importance of ICTs by proposing that immediate steps should be taken to include ICTs as part of its health-for-all strategy for the 21st century. This area was also recognised as of the utmost priority by ADF ’99 and ADF 2000, where a portal on health resources and health statistics in Africa was launched22. Pilot telemedicine projects are being implemented in countries, such as Mali and Ethiopia. Countries like Tunisia have adopted Telemedicine plans, and more recently, Mozambique and Senegal are embarking on developing e-strategy for the health sector. Governance The utilisation of ICTs for improving government services in Africa is gaining momentum. Recently, ECA launched an electronic dialogue on e-governance23 that aimed at providing insights into trends in e-governance programmes on the continent. Discussions revealed that this field is at an early stage in most countries, hampered mostly by low levels of e-readiness and limited political will. However, there were some experiences from selected countries that deserve to be better known. It was stressed that e-governance is a continuous learning and interactive process requiring resources and research. Outcomes of the e-governance discussion will feed into the forthcoming African Development Forum (ADF IV) scheduled for next year on governance, which will have an ICT Focus Group that will deliberate on ICTs and governance. In addition, the forthcoming Committee on

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 135

Development Information (CODI III)24, one of the subsidiary bodies of the ECA scheduled to take place in May 2003, will also focus on information for governance.

Progress and Impact Evaluation

The jury is still out on the impact of ICTs on the development process in Africa, as the advent of the information age is relatively recent for assessing, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the exact impact on socio-economic transformations. Outside of the telecommunications sector, information is sparse, diffuse and anecdotal in such areas as sectoral applications, investment flows, donor/funding activity, the ICT industrial or business sector, ICT labour, and so on. Nevertheless, the fact still remains that there is an urgent need for developing indicators that monitor the role of ICTs in each and every sector applicable, as well as for developing mechanisms that provide precise assessments. Up to two years ago, the relevance of ICTs to Africa’s development was evaluated on an ad hoc basis. It is only recently that studies have been commissioned by agencies, such as the ITU, UNESCO, and the World Bank, to name a few, on e-readiness and the impact of ICTs and development In response to this development, an Africa-specific monitoring and evaluation programme, Scan-ICT, was launched in November 2000. Scan-ICT is led by IDRC and ECA and supported by the European Commission and the Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD). It aims at developing Africa’s capacity to collect, analyse and organise data on the penetration and utilisation of ICTs for development. Ghana, Senegal, Morocco, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Mozambique have been selected and sponsored to undertake baseline studies by employing indicators reflecting thematic areas; namely, infrastructure, content development, sectoral applications such as education, health, e-commerce. Interim results were presented at Bamako 2002.

136 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Partnership and Consultation Mechanisms Africa’s digital agenda is quite huge and challenging as is the continent’s development agenda that ICTs are intended to serve. Therefore, building synergies and creating strong alliances to address it more efficiently is crucial. It is in this context that partnership and consultation mechanisms have been put in place. At the regional level, they are expected to ensure that Africa’s digital agenda is locally led and owned. At the global level, they are meant to convey Africa’s views, position and needs and to guarantee efficient collaboration with the international agenda. The Regional Level
The African Technical Advisory Committee (ATAC)25 to the African Infor-

mation Society Initiative (AISI) was established by a mandate from the ECA Conference of Ministers Resolution 812 (XXXI)26. It is a regional advisory committee composed of African experts representing different areas of activities, including the Diaspora, and was formally launched during its first meeting in Addis Ababa, in October 1997. Its major functions are: • to assess the impact of the implementation of the African Information Society Initiative; • to advise the ECA secretariat on the content of its work programme for the implementation of the African Information Society Initiative; and • to suggest ways and means of resource mobilisation for the implementation of AISI. Since 1997, ATAC has been instrumental in providing inputs on AISI orientations and achievements.
The Partnership for Information and Communications Technologies in Africa (PICTA)27 is an informal group of donors and executing agencies

committed to improving information exchange and collaboration

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 137

around ICT activities in Africa.28 It was formed by representatives of 17 UN and other development agencies involved in information and communications technologies (ICT) development in Africa, who attended the donor and executing agency meeting on IT for development in Africa, held in April 1997, in Rabat, Morocco. They agreed to make PICTA a forum for donor/executing agencies collaborating within the framework of “Africa’s Information Society Initiative” (AISI), and to set up common information resources on the Internet for ICT related development activities in Africa. The major current joint programmes of PICTA members include the SCAN-ICT project, development and implementation of national ICT strategies (NICIs), the publication of a quarterly bulletin, entitled “iConnect Africa”, and a monthly “PICTA Bulletin”. Furthermore, PICTA members jointly organise a number of conferences and meetings related to the promotion of ICTs for African development.
The African Stakeholders Network of the UN ICT—Task Force (ASN)29 was

set up at the end of a two-day meeting in Addis Ababa (21–22 January 2002), and organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) with support from the UN ICT Task Force secretariat. The consultative meeting brought together over 60 representatives from governments, development agencies, donors, private sector, civil society and nongovernmental organisations. From Africa’s point of view, it is mainly intended to link existing African activities and initiatives with the newly established UN ICT Task Force. The main mandate of the ASN is to: • develop a network relevant to Africa’s needs and in line with the mandate of the Task Force and its Working Groups; • share information on major African activities and initiatives through mailing lists, websites and country profiles; • sensitise and mobilise major actors to ensure African ownership and support from partners; • share information and encourage membership, when relevant, and organise special events;

138 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • assist in linking the network with African and international initiatives; and • attract funds and investments in the ICT sector in Africa. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development.30 ICTs were one of the major components of the Compact for African Recovery, which was developed upon the request of the African Ministers of Finance and presented to them during the ECA Conference of Ministers, held in Algiers, in May 2001. The Compact codified a growing consensus within Africa of what had to be done to accelerate the continent’s development, including in the area of ICTs. As the development of the Compact has been carried out at the same time as the Millennium Partnership for African Recovery Programme (MAP) and the OMEGA Plan, the initiators of MAP and OMEGA asked the ECA to contribute substantively to the development of a unified document, which became the New African Initiative, and later the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). In this context, ECA prepared several sectoral contributions, including ICTs, based on the African Information Society Initiative framework, for MAP, OMEGA, the New African Initiative and NEPAD. AISI is now considered the starting point for the regional dimension framework of the ICT component of the infrastructure part of NEPAD31. The International Level
The Global Knowledge Partnership32 (GKP) is a “network of networks”

with a diverse membership base comprising public, private and not-forprofit organisations from both developed and developing countries. The Partnership was born as a result of the preparatory process of the 1997 Global Knowledge Conference in Canada, hosted by the World Bank and the Government of Canada. At present there are 45 members. For 2001–2003, the chair for the committee is the Government of Switzerland, represented by the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC). The secretariat is hosted by the Government of Malaysia and represented by the National Information Technology Council (NITC).

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 139

The GKP aims to promote broad access to (and effective use of) knowledge and information as tools of equitable sustainable development. GKP members also share information, experiences and resources to realise the potential of information and communications technologies to improve lives, reduce poverty and empower people. In April 2002, the GKP Annual Meeting held an African Day at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Members of the network and other invited experts discussed issues related to the major ICT for development initiatives in Africa, the GKP Strategy 2005, global and regional networks, as well as partnership mechanisms in Africa. African Day recommendations were presented in Bamako 2002.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a technical coordination body for the Internet, which is specifically coordinating Internet domain names, IP address numbers, Protocol parameter and port numbers. In addition, ICANN coordinates the stable operation of the Internet’s root server system. Africa’s participation in the ICANN activities is still limited despite efforts of international partners to support participation of Africans in the various ICANN meetings, including the Accra meeting. In this regard, Ghana was selected to host the first ICANN stakeholders meeting for the year 2002, which took place from 10 to14 March, 2002. At this occasion, a number of parallel ICANN constituency events as well as the General Assembly and the ICANN Board Meeting took place. Following the Accra meeting, discussions are underway between ECA and ICANN to put in place an African outreach programme, which would be part of the ASN.

Bilateral and Multilateral Partnership Mechanisms A wide range of bilateral and multilateral partners is supporting the implementation of the African Information Society Initiative. Discussions are being held with other partners, including GTZ and SDC. Selected projects and partners are described on the following page.

140 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Country Canada Organisation Government of Canada IDRC Area of Support Development of a centre for connectivity in Africa, and e-policy resource centre Scan-ICT baseline Studies in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Uganda European Union European Commission Scan-ICT baseline studies in Ethiopia and Mozambique Regional study on the state of telecommunication regulatory policies Development of NICI policies, plans and strategies in Central Africa Republic, Djibouti, Ghana, Mali, Niger Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs Strengthening ECA’s capacity for coordinating and monitoring national ICT policies and strategies Support the strengthening of ECA’s web presence. Production and dissemination of iConnect Africa, a quarterly web paper and email service Contribution to the AISI Media Award Programme Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Equipment for standing and mobile exhibition of ITCA Participation of women from Anglophone countries in the CISCO Internet and Networking course Korea Norway United States of America Ministry of Foreign Affairs NORAD USAID Establishment and strengthening of the Information Technology Centre for Africa Scan-ICT baseline studies in Ethiopia and Mozambique Development of manual for training of policy makers on the challenges and use of ICTs for Africa’s development Capacity building programmes World Bank Africa Bureau InfoDev CISCO Production of AISI Radio Series Training of African women on Internet and Networking Supporting Information Technology Centre for Africa (ITCA)’s training programmes Training on ICT and Regional Integration Support to AISI outreach programme

France Netherlands

Ministry of Development and Co-operation IICD

La Francophonie Open Society Initiative

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 141

The Communication Programme

The issue of ICTs for Development is relatively new in Africa. It requires outreach and dissemination of information programmes and efforts to publicise achievements, best practices and experiences in order to satisfy the increasing demand in this area. In this context, various efforts are underway to promote ICTs for development in Africa. Some of these activities include:
PICTA Bulletin33 is a monthly publication that provides information on

activities of members in the Partnership for ICTs in Africa (PICTA), as well as news on ICT-related activities in Africa.
iConnect Africa34 is a quarterly web, paper and email service that aims to

raise awareness in the wider African development community regarding the possibilities offered by ICTs in development. iConnect is produced by the ECA and the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD). It reports on activities forming part of the AISI and Building Digital Opportunities programme “BDO”. iConnect is funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Department for International Development Cooperation (DGIS) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
AISI Radio Series are based on the Harnessing ICTs for Development programme of the Economic Commission for Africa. The Radio Series is aimed at creating greater awareness on the information society, serving as a tool for media practitioners, especially radio broadcasters, to engage various groups in debating the role of ICTs in the development process. The programme was made possible with funding from the Africa Region of the World Bank. “ICTs in Mali”, one of the four programmes in the AISI Radio Series, was broadcast by the English Language Service of Radio Netherlands, and was a special edition in their weekly development programme, A Good Life.

142 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The programme will also be made available through Radio Nederlands’ affiliate stations, such as World Radio Network (WRN) broadcast world-wide, with specific feeds to National Public Radio (NPR) in North America, Safm, South Africa, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
The ICT Media Award Programme was launched recently by the ECA. It

aims at encouraging reporting by African journalists on ICT for development issues within the context of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI). The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) have made contributions to the award, which has assisted in kick-starting the process.
Out of Africa is an interesting map commissioned by IDRC to measure

the digital divide in Africa. It defines a Bits per Capita indicator to evaluate the communication capacity and readiness of African countries. It argues that International Internet bandwidth provides a better measure of Internet activity (URL:
NICI Maps and Graphs are based on data collected from different sources.

Currently, maps on the status of the NICI strategies, Africa’s Internet situation and tele-density, the number of ISPs (and ownership), mobile density, and broadcasting (regulation, radio, TV) can be found at: A NICI graph has also been prepared and is available from the same site.
AISI Briefing Papers are being produced on various issues related to pro-

moting ICTs for development. The briefing papers aim at sensitising better African policy makers about the issues that need to be addressed for achieving Africa’s digital inclusion. Currently, briefing papers on the National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) plans, ICTs and governance, and civil society participation in ICT programmes are being produced.
Web and e-discussions have been developed to disseminate information,

best practices, ICT stories from and within Africa, and to exchange ideas

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 143

on the development of the sector. The websites are being used to document the status of e-readiness and national e-strategies at the country level. Some of the major websites include: • • • • AISI (; NICI (; PICTA (; and ASN (

Electronic discussion fora on various topics related to promoting ICTs for development have been set-up. The main one is the AISI list (, where various topics related to ICTs in Africa were discussed. Very recently a lively discussion on e-governance/ government in Africa was held. Its main outcome can be found at:

Lessons Learned and the Way Forward

The recent dramatic growth of the Internet and the mobile sector, and the proliferation of Internet and computer services businesses(including the availability of cyber cafés in African capitals) show that there is potential for ICTs as a key development sector for Africa. Increasing use of ICT in other areas of economic development also indicates that, with concerted efforts, ICTs have the potential to meet development challenges. A number of lessons have also been learnt from the work of ECA in implementing the African Information Society over the last six years. Activities and initiatives have been mushrooming in the continent in the ICT for Development areas, targeting all member States but sometimes limited to a few countries. The different social and economic status of African countries led to different approaches to information society development and diverse projects in these countries. Such diversity itself

144 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development is a lesson. Major lessons that can be extracted from these projects, programmes and initiatives include the following: Increased Awareness Almost all African governments are now ready to consider the development of ICT policies and programmes of action that assist them better to address socio-economic development challenges. The resistance to embrace ICT has changed tremendously. The governments are willing to invest in information and communications technology programmes that: (a) meet their development plans and goals; (b) are part of their efforts to alleviate poverty; and (c) increase the social appropriation of ICTs by the civil society and the communities. Government seems to play a key role in driving the ICT agenda in most countries. Importance of the High-Level Leadership Progressive ICT policies and strategies at national levels demonstrate that political will and leadership are fundamental for translation of the policies into actions. President Chissano and Prime Minister Pascal Mocumbi are at the forefront of ICT policy in Mozambique. President Kagame is part and parcel of the process that aims to move Rwanda from agriculture-led to a knowledge society. These and a number of other examples show that the ICT policy process could succeed only through strong political leadership as well as institutional support. The NICI process could be more participatory Some countries set up broad national consultations for their NICI process. However, there is room for improvement. Indeed, compared to its significance in the development of the information society, the role of the private sector has been too limited so far and should be considerably improved. From the other side, the involvement of the civil society in ICT for development has been uneven. Not all the countries pay

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 145

significant attention to the civil society participation in the process. A new partnership model that builds on the strengths of government, the private sector and civil society, is needed. Need for learning from experiences of others—Best practices It is important to learn from the experience of others. There is an increasing demand for more documentation and efficient information sharing mechanisms. Indeed, there is a serious lack of documentation on a great deal of activities and successful achievements. It has been unanimously recommended to address this issue as rapidly as possible in order to illustrate the growth of the ICT sector and, in particular, to know “who is doing what” in ICT in Africa. Bellanet International developed the AI-AIMS database about the activities of the PICTA members (this database was later merged with the GK-AIMS). However, there is still a need for concerted efforts for information gathering and sharing. Recently, the Global Knowledge Partnership, the Swiss Cooperation for International Development and the ECA decided to create a knowledge base that addresses this issue.35 Communication materials, such as the PICTA Bulletin and the iConnect Africa Bulletin, are also contributing greatly to better dissemination of information on project realisations. Transition from ideas and concepts to concrete action plans Progress in ICT development in the region shows that countries want to move from policy development, ideas and concepts to concrete actions; most of them are ready now. Experiences indicate the need for two types of actions: • broader and long-term actions in a few key areas that bring substantial changes to the society; and • small, effective and sustainable programmes that bring catalytic impact on communities and that can also be used for demonstration purposes.

146 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Need for increased attention to sectoral policies and strategies Social and economic development challenges and resource limitations have increased the need for prioritisation for ICT intervention in key sectors in Africa. The prominent areas in Africa include: • improving governance and public sector effectiveness through concerted use of ICTs by government, and meeting public sector reforms; • meeting the challenges of health systems management, healthy life, HIV/AIDS, health knowledge, through increased use of ICTs; • increasing the capacities of small and medium enterprises to benefit from growing electronic businesses; • improving ICT use in all aspects of education, learning and research with focus on youth, lifelong and distance learning; and • harnessing ICTs for improving the situation of agriculture, food security and environment in Africa Human and institutional capacity must be strengthened The human and institutional capacity development remains one of the chronic problems in the region. The challenges include: • the creation of expertise in policy analysis (such as defining and implementing national policies and participating in global decision making); • the creation of expertise in information management, policy and regulatory framework development and enforcement of regulation by institutions; • a better coordination of ICT-related programmes at national levels in order to avoid the fragmentation that is due to competition among agencies and institutions; • the development of national negotiation skills, particularly at the international level;

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 147

• the establishment of reliable and sustainable institutional capacities resilient to the changes of government and global needs; and • the involvement of the African Diaspora. Prioritisation of external assistance The experience so far also shows that technical and financial assistance is needed at different levels. These include: • provision of knowledge as to what steps to take in developing inclusive national and sectoral policies; • providing guidance and resources to overall ICT policy formulation and e-strategy development processes, particularly in translation of policies to actions; • financing the implementation of large and small catalytic programmes and projects; • supporting countries in the mobilisation of internal and external resources; • maintaining partnerships for sustainable ICT development; and • monitoring and evaluating progress. Increasing regional cooperation and integration The regional dimension has become significant, particularly in the development of infrastructure, harmonisation of regulations and mobilisation of resources. The factors that spurred regional cooperation in ICTs include: • the increasing need for economies of scale (one country cannot do it alone); • the need to leverage regional cooperation and integration by harmonising policies, tariffs and resource plans; • the opportunities provided by dynamism in regional economic groupings and policy organs and frameworks, such as AU, NEPAD, and AISI; and

148 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • the need for a common and strong African voice in global decisionmaking to influence the global rule of the game on behalf of the communities on the ground. More adequate and innovative financing mechanisms are needed To date there is limited financing mechanism for the huge task of harnessing ICT for development in Africa. Ad hoc projects and programmes were largely unsustainable. There is, therefore, a need for better financing mechanisms that take the need of different actors into account. The problem has been addressed several times and now we need to move forward more efficiently. The Government of Senegal (responsible for the infrastructure part of NEPAD), with the support of ECA, organised the NEPAD financing conference in Dakar (15–17 April 2002). The conference came out with interesting recommendations in the area of ICTs. Bamako 2002 studied the proposal and agreed that some of the major immediate actions that were needed were: • • • • • to increase the public-private partnership; to streamline ICTs in the national development budget; to leverage on public resources, including radio frequency spectrum; to enforce a global bit tax for ICTs; to divert a percentage of military spending to the development of ICT and knowledge; • to swap debt for education, information, communication and knowledge; and • to create a universal fund for ICT in Africa, through such initiatives as the United Nations ICT Task Force and the follow-up on the G8 Dot Force.

Conclusion The lessons above and on ground-level work by the ECA in the region indicate that governments, partners, the private sector and civil society

Regional ICT Developments ✦ Soltane ✦ 149

organisations, should focus on selected areas in order to maximise the impact of ICT for social transformation. The key steps to ensure that digital opportunity is created to better serve Africa’s people and generate wealth and welfare in the Continent, include: • developing ICT strategies that are in line with the UN Millennium Development of the countries; • supporting the dynamic transition from strategies to actual implementation of programmes for sustainable development; • increasing the relevance of institutions, policies and regulatory frameworks; • building a network of actors, policy makers and those implementing ICT projects and programmes at community, national, regional and global levels; and • promoting sustainable financing mechanisms for long and shortterm programmes and projects using innovative strategies. Finally, there is need for ongoing efficient and light consultation frameworks that bring all African ICT experts, partners and stakeholders together. A re-energised partnership, and information-sharing platforms—such as that of PICTA, the African Stakeholders Network of the UN ICT Task Force, and GKP—are vital for building knowledge society strategies that enable Africa to harness ICT for social and economic development, and to promote sub-regional and regional integration and increase Africa’s participation in global ICT decision-making processes. In this context, the UN ICT Task Force and its regional networks could provide an efficient platform for an improved dialogue, both within the regions and among them, at the global level, a better articulation of the challenges of ICT for development and an effective implementation of sustainable programmes.

150 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development

1. Harnessing Technologies for Sustainable Development, ECA Policy Research Report, August 2002. 2. 3. Resolution 812 (XXXI) “Implementation of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI). 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. The bureau is composed of five government officials representing Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, South Africa and Rwanda, three representatives of civil society, two representatives of the private sector and a ECA as a General Rapporteur. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. Resolution 812 (XXXI) “Implementation of the African Information Society Initiative (AISI) 27. 28. Institutions, such as the British Council, FAO, IDRC, IICD, ITU, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNRISD, USAID, WHO, WIPO, World Bank, and WTO, having strong interests in improving the use of ICTs as tools to enhance economic and social development, are active members of this open network of partners. 29. 30. 31. The decision was made during the “Conference on the participation of the private sector to the financing of the NEPAD”, Dakar, Senegal 15–17 April 2002. 32. 33. 34. 35. This was also a recommendation of the African Stakeholders Network, in January 2002.



Emmanuel OleKambainei and Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa

Info-communication for Development in Africa
The African Connection Initiative1

Africa needs to ‘cheetah-pole-vault’ not ‘leap-frog’ —OLEKAMBAINEI

ICT in Africa—The Setting and the Challenge The Setting The development impact of ICT has two distinctive aspects. The first consists of the benefits of enhancement of the infrastructure and applications to users of information and communication services, who can be distinguished according to whether they use these services as an everyday tool for production, distribution or consumption, and for 151

152 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development their day-to-day activities. The second consists of the benefits derived by the economy from changes in the production, supply and operation of communications infrastructure, facilities, equipment, services and applications. Improvements in info-communications,2 and ICT in particular, lower the cost of information and knowledge exchange, the cost of dealing with others in the market (such as suppliers and customers), and the cost of business start-ups and of delivering social economic services, including governmental services. Through these processes, transaction costs in society drop, which improve overall efficiency and growth. Complementing this, the ability to transmit data, graphics, picture, and more, on communications networks contributes to increases in the quantity and quality of information available to service and productive enterprises, which opens up new opportunities and enables more thorough evaluation of the risks and returns associated with these opportunities. In many instances, the additional information that becomes accessible will contribute to the spatial expansion of markets, assisting producers to move from local into regional or national markets, and from domestic into international markets. Access (or the lack of it) to cheap and sufficient information is an important determinant of the competitive advantage of firms, sectors and countries. Furthermore, the efficient and easy access by citizens to up-to-date information on their local and central governments, NGOs and other civil society institutions, and corporate enterprises, improves interaction, mutual trust, confidence and participation. These, in turn, enhance empowerment, unity, democracy, peace and stability. Evidence suggests that countries that have invested in info-communication infrastructure and applications have attracted high levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as increased and efficient private and public domestic investments into other sectors. The value of the infrastructure is in the linkage effects to other sectors, more than in the infrastructure and applications per se. Economic benefits also arise from changes in the supply of communications network infrastructure and applications, which contributes to

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 153

the emergence and growth of specialist firms, or new branches of existing firms, in a range of service sectors to take advantage of new market opportunities in the production and distribution of information itself. On the one hand, these will include software production firms and Internet service providers, who provide essential pieces of machinery for information production and distribution. On the other hand, there are firms who provide and/or facilitate the creation and adaptation of relevant content of the information, such as web marketing agencies, electronic news media, community and governmental agencies, and so on. The changes in information and communications technology have broken down barriers between different productive and service sectors in the economy, and opened up competition and collaboration within and between the sectors. This enhances efficiency in these sectors, and contributes to overall growth. Much of existing economic data point to a high correlation between ICT and economic growth. In the past several decades this has been confirmed by the revolutionary impact of ICT on country economic performance, particularly in the areas of production, trade and market access, employment, and public and corporate governance. Converging and emerging technologies as well as new services and applications have allowed countries to accelerate economic growth, empower people and alleviate poverty through expansion in private and public business opportunities, to extend services to socially disadvantaged groups, to pervasively use and develop ICT for revenue and income generation purposes, and to enhance the participation of citizens in their communities, countries, regions, continent and global arena. The Challenge Africa’s experience with ICT has unfortunately, and for the most part, taken a different path from most of the world. Poor ICT infrastructure, combined with weak policy and regulatory frameworks, low technological penetration and unimpressive human and institutional capacity,

154 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development have led to inadequate access to affordable telephones, broadcasting, computers, Internet and efficient postal services. This has hampered the continents’ ability to capitalise on ICT as a central tool in creating new business opportunities. The combined constraints have also played a key role in creating rifts within and between nations, between subregional African markets, isolating African markets from global markets and preventing individual African markets from becoming strong and vibrant. Significant progress has indeed been made in the ICT sector, and a number of African countries have embarked on policy reforms that have introduced competition and improved policy and regulatory frameworks. In fact, since 1990, approximately 40 countries have embarked on programmes to separate postal functions from telecommunications. Over 20 have privatised their state-owned national telephone companies. 30 have liberalised their markets and opened up to private cellular services, and over 20 have revised their regulatory frameworks to facilitate more effective private investment. Nearly over 45 have at least one cellular services provider, and at least 40 have achieved some level of connectivity and the presence of local full-service dialup ISPs, even though Internet service and other advanced services are limited by scarce bandwidth. These developments reflect a growing belief that Africans are realising the enormous potential of ICT as a key driver for social and economic development and poverty reduction, particularly as reforming countries are reaping benefits through improved infrastructure, increased applications and better accessibility and affordability of ICT infrastructure, equipment and services. Even then, most of the reforms have been done without much coordination at the sub-regional level. The region as a whole does not have a consistent strategy to attract larger and higher-quality local and foreign capital and other resources for investment, or to remove the many barriers in order to accelerate development. However, serious problems still persist despite the reforms. Africa’s ICT sector remains characterised by low service penetration

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 155

and coverage, poor service quality and high investment costs and tariffs. Most calls and Internet traffic exchanged between African countries are still routed through Europe and cost Africa some $400 million a year in transit fees. The direct result of this is the inability of most African ICT services providers to reduce settlement rates, high Internet costs and other ICT tariffs. Over fifty percent of ICT services are in urban areas where less than thirty percent of the population lives. Excluding South Africa, which constitutes over fifty percent of the African ICT market, the connectivity gap between Africa and the rest of the world is very exacerbated, pegging African tele-density still at less than one line per 100 people a decade after extensive reforms. The situation is no better (and in some cases, worse) in broadcasting, Internet access, computer and IT usage, multimedia access and production and distribution of print material. Traditional radio broadcast, which has a far higher level of penetration in Africa, is still inadequate and stands at 20 per 100 people. Postal services, while they have received some attention following separation of a significant number from telecommunications operations, still remain fragile and lack requisite funds to modernise and expand. A key challenge is for Africa to be able to attract the requisite local and foreign, as well as private and public, investment to develop low-cost information and communication infrastructure and applications for efficient delivery of high value-adding products in effective applications on a reliable and sustainable basis. Alliances and partnerships with and between the local and foreign private sector would need to be forged and sustained nationally, regionally, continentally and globally, with transparent criteria on rules of engagement within clear rationalised institutional arrangements and relationships at all levels. Africa needs to be able to define and consistently monitor its own performance indicators to reflect effective universal service and access priorities. Policies on public ICT services access in particular need to be given priority in the face of all the above barriers and challenges. But perhaps even more challenging is for African governments to be able to go beyond national boundaries to synchronise policies, regulatory

156 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development frameworks, programmes and activities in order to derive synergies and economies of scale and scope from increased investments that often come with larger markets. Furthermore, there is a need to ensure effective and facilitative cooperation, coordination and collaboration (the three Cs) at all levels (horizontally and vertically) and between all the various initiatives in order to achieve the requisite synergies, complementarities, mutual re-enforcement, reduction of wasteful duplication and the efficiencies of scale and scope. This way, African ICT may develop the kick, momentum and acceleration to ‘cheetah-polevault’ not ‘leap-frog’ to catch-up and keep up with the rest of the world.

Meeting the Challenge at Regional and Continental Levels

While, as stated above, there is recognition and acceptance at national levels of the inevitable crucial role of ICT as a tool and catalyst for social and economic development and empowerment, the same is clearly apparent at both the regional and continental levels. In this effort, there have been local African initiatives. To mention a few, at the continental level are the various initiatives under the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), formerly PATU, the AISI under UNECA, the 1998 Ministerial initiative, known as African Connection and, more recently, the African Union and its comprehensive program, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), which have all stressed the critical role of ICT in achieving their objectives. These are in addition to (and needing to be coordinated and integrated relevantly with) the many global initiatives in ICT (Bridging the Digital Divide, UN ICT for Development, Global Information Society, ICT for Education, Health, Agriculture, and many others). Vertical and horizontal (geographically) and inter-initiatives cooperation, coordination and collaboration are crucial for success in achieving the shared vision and intended objectives.

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 157

The African Connection Initiative In 1998, African Ministers responsible for communications developed an initiative, called “The African Connection”, which was launched at the ITU Africa TELECOM in the same year in South Africa. The 1999 Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the Pan African Telecommunications Union (PATU, now ATU) adopted the initiative, which was endorsed in the same year by the Summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) as a continental initiative for action. The vision, strategies and content of the initiative, has with time, been positively impacted upon by the changing realities of both the ICT and global environments, and now encompasses the whole of ICT development and applications as a tool and catalyst, cross-cutting sector and business in itself. The Mission and Objectives of the African Connection The African Connection Program is an African-driven effort to make Africa a full member of the global information and knowledge society through accelerated development of country, regional and continental information infrastructure and applications in the social and productive sectors. The objectives of the African Connection include, among others: • Support for accelerated country ICT reform programs and initiatives; • Promotion of harmonised regional policies, regulations and standards anchored on effective national reform programs; • Fostering effective regional capacity-building strategies; • Facilitating technology development, transfer and use, and effective content development; • Developing pilot ICT applications in productive social services for cross-border mainstreaming, particularly in LDCs and rural and disadvantaged communities;

158 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Facilitating innovative financing and public-private partnerships to accelerate ICT infrastructure and services development; • Facilitating regional consensus building and donor and investor coordination for effective resource utilisation; and • Promote partnerships and synergy through building a culture of cooperation, coordination and collaboration.
The African Connection Program is a critical component of the African

Telecommunications Union (ATU) restructuring program and is endorsed by African Ministers of Information and Communication. It is also an important component of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which has a clear objective to capitalise on the crosscutting and catalytic attributes of ICT to accelerate the continent’s economic development and growth. The African Connection program strategy, in conformance with the larger NEPAD objectives, is to go beyond African national policies to African continental policies and programs. An Overview of Activities In its short history, the African Connection has undertaken a good number of important activities. These include:
Policy and Regulation: The African Connection has completed the First

Phase of the Regulatory Study with the financial assistance of the European Union. The study identified key issues involved in the reform of Telecommunications policies and regulations in Africa. The study’s report and similar reports are on the African Connection website.
ICT Policy Strategy Papers: The African Connection has developed sev-

eral ICT Policy Strategy Papers and posted them on its website.
Universal and Rural Access: The African Connection has developed, with

partners, a GMPCS licensing template (toolkit) posted on the website, and held follow-up workshops jointly with Schoolnet Africa and Worldlink (of the World Bank) that expanded the technology to cover all

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 159

wireless connectivity for education and development, and incorporate low-cost delivery devices and facilities. Furthermore, it is also currently carrying out a study on ‘Rural ICT Status and Market opportunities’ in ten countries selected from the five regions that will also come up with a pilot project and a draft rural ICT toolkit for Africa.
Human Resource and Capacity-building The African Connection is col-

laborating with USAID, TRASA and academia on the development of training modules for effective ICT development, and with the Markle Foundation on strategies to build capacity for effective involvement of African professionals in key international discussions on ICT.
Consensus-building and Regional Cooperation: It is working on various

programs with four African regions (COMESA, EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC), especially on policy and regulatory harmonisation, the establishment of regulatory associations and others, as requested by the respective regions.
Strategic Studies: These occasional studies include a SADC e-Readiness strategic document now being presented to the authorities. e-Africa Commission: Under the New Partnership for Africa’s Develop-

ment (NEPAD), the African Connection is exploring ways of working with the e-Africa Commission, ATU and other partners to develop strategies for continental institutional rationalisation and institutional arrangements and relationships that will provide the clarity of engagement to guide the sustainable and accelerated planning, development and resourcing of key ICT initiatives in Africa.
Regional and International Deliberations and Consensus-building: It pro-

vides professional inputs to various global initiatives, such as the G8 DotForce, the UN ICT Task Force, the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) and the WEF/SADC e-Readiness Task Force at global and regional levels.
Funding and Partnerships for ICT Development: It is working with various partners to develop possible cross-border public/private partnerships for

160 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development programs and projects on the basis of “Countries of Mutual Interest (COMI)” to take advantage of the economy of scale of larger markets. This will be preceded by a study on “Policy and Regulatory Reforms for Market expansion in Africa”.
ICT Applications and Content Development: The African Connection

website3 has been re-designed to allow more primary information and to facilitate user friendliness. There are ongoing efforts to synchronise this website with MIGA’s Investment Promotion Network and Privatisation website, amongst others. It organised a Content Development Workshop at the end of 2001, which brought together key content providers on the continent to discuss strategies for development, promotion, and the use and funding of African content. Networking and collaboration among the content development sector as well as requests for specific assistance are among the resultant follow-up activities from the workshop.
Direct Country Assistance: The African Connection provides advice and

support to policy and regulatory authorities directly on request, depending on available financial and human resources, especially to LDCs and countries in special need, and those coming out of conflict situations. Pressing Issues There are many issues, which the African Connection considers to be of a pressing nature with regard to the fulfillment of its terms of reference, and which require dedicated attention. These include: • Ensuring follow-up and implementation of proposals and recommendations arising from the work of the last two years; • Participating in institutional rationalisation and defining effective and sustainable institutional arrangements and relationships for the achievement of the ICT objectives under AU and NEPAD; • Seeing to it that existing and follow-up activities continue with the continuity, momentum and buy-in required to ensure achievement of the desired deliverables; and

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 161

• Finally, and of the utmost importance, getting a sustainable ‘home’ for the African Connection Initiative when the present Secretariat closes at the end of September 2003.

The Perspective on Info-Communication of the African Connection for Africa Development

Over the last two years of the existence of the African Connection Secretariat, otherwise known as African Connection Centre for Strategic Planning (ACCSP), we have developed some perspectives on many regional, continental and global issues. We would like to share, here, one such view on ICT for development in Africa. Sector Strategy The challenge for Africa is obviously a daunting one. A short-term objective of achieving the traditional tele-density measure of 2 by the year 2005 with a reasonable level of universal access would require investments in excess of US$8 billion in the core information infrastructure, according to World Bank estimates. Achieving this target is critical to the success of any attempt to improve African connectivity within and between African countries, and it would require a comprehensive, integrated and well-coordinated strategy, which is founded on: i. policy, legal and regulatory strategies to promote higher rates of return on infrastructure and applications investments, particularly in rural areas; ii. effective public/private sector partnerships that can capitalise on conducive environments to promote higher levels of investment and private sector participation in infrastructure development; iii. ICT applications and content, which add value to policies; and

162 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development iv. a formidable human resource and institutional support base that can foster the sustained development, diffusion and use of ICT in Africa. The most crucial action by Governments is setting up independent, autonomous and facilitative, well-resourced, credible and accountable regulatory agencies (authorities) to ensure the creation and enforcement of conducive, consistent and transparent regulatory environment and frameworks. There is also a need to give priority to the synchronisation and coordination of both local and external initiatives and programs at local, national, regional and continental levels, so as to achieve synergy, scale and scope in Africa’s development objectives. Policy and Regulatory Frameworks Sustainable, long-term infrastructure development will not be possible or optimal without policies that are conducive to efficiency, business activities and investment, and regulatory frameworks that are transparent, certain and ensure fair competition and open markets. This is particularly so in view of the changes in ownership, structure and consolidation of the information and communications sector, convergence of technologies and markets, and the reduced role and capacity of governments to manage the sector. Two key factors dictate the need for new ways of managing the sector. First is the inordinate task of managing the increased regulatory processes associated with sector liberalisation, increased competition, new technologies and services, and converging technologies. The second, and perhaps more tasking, is the convergence of trade and telecommunications policies under WTO agreements. Regulators need to be well established and equipped to deal with potential abuses by incumbent operators in the new competitive environments, to facilitate entry of new technologies and services and to keep abreast of the demands of the rapidly changing ICT sector. While many African markets are not individually attractive for high-level capital-intensive development, together they could provide

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 163

the critical mass, and scale and scope economies to attract local and foreign investors. What is required is harmonised policy and regulatory frameworks from interconnection and spectrum planning to licensing and e-commerce strategies. Tactically, it might be better to start with the policy and regulatory gaps that exist rather than forcing countries with different standards and procedures to change and comply. Furthermore, integrating ICT as a tool and crosscutting sector into development and development agendas can go a long way in efforts geared towards sustainable development, poverty alleviation and national competitiveness. Consistent and proactive e-Readiness assessments should be carried out for all countries in order to articulate current gaps, constraints and opportunities. Approximately fifty percent of African countries have had some assessment done of their readiness to integrate information technology and e-commerce. The results of such assessments should form the basis of more comprehensive ICT strategies to fill these gaps, resolve constraints and effectively package and market opportunities. These assessments would also go a long way to facilitate planning, identification and allocation of resources. e-Commerce policy has already been identified both as a gap and a priority, and could be used as the first phase of a more general harmonisation program. An e-Commerce model policy and legislation adopted by African countries could provide a cohesive tool towards intra-African and global trade. It may include sub-projects around using ICT tools for SMME development, e-Government service delivery, and the creation of jobs and wealth. Infrastructure Financing Most of Africa’s main telecommunications operators (public and private) do not have the requisite resources to expand their networks to competitive levels. This is even more so as revenues from the telecommunications sector still constitute a significant component of most of the countries’ gross national product.

164 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Emphasis should be on developing partnerships to finance new and existing national, sub-regional and regional programs and projects with the objective to improve connectivity, thereby increasing access and lowering costs. African development and investment banks should be encouraged to participate fully in these partnerships. The success of such partnerships will, however, depend extensively on comprehensive and credible Market Statistics on Africa’s ICT sector. This is lacking, and serious efforts should be made to rectify this constraint. Competitive mechanisms to generate and award ‘Smart Subsidies’ to private operators willing to connect rural communities should be integral in universal service access, social services delivery (especially education and health), and financing strategies. Such subsidies could also be extended to content developers to boost growth in the sector. A number of countries, such as South Africa, Mauritius, Morocco and Uganda, are already operating Universal Service Funds, which finance rural and disadvantaged community infrastructure with revenue contributions and license fees from telecom operators. Such best practices should be mainstreamed to the rest of the continent to ensure universal service to all Africans. Financing strategies should also include innovative and phased plans to connect all African countries through existing excess satellite and fiber optic cable capacity, as well as undersea cable and satellite capacity currently under construction. ‘Instant’ national coverage could be achieved through use of new technologies (such as VSAT, GMPCS and WLL), which will provide access to all schools, hospitals, libraries and community centres on flat rates. Cost-effective Internet access could be developed through Internet Exchange Points (IXP) to aggregate traffic and create economies of scale. Further efforts should be put into upgrading the capacity (bandwidth) and extending the reach of existing networks to make them able to act as reliable backbone for present and future demands for advanced and varied ICT services. These initiatives could all be financed through effective public-private sector partnerships with significant local participation and international donor assistance.

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 165

ICT Applications, Content Development & Internet Access Provision of ICT infrastructure and services is mutually re-enforcing with ICT applications accompanied by local content development. As the 21st century is by its nature the century governed by knowledge exchange and use of information, ICT, as a cross-cutting sector, valueadding and facilitator of such exchange and use, becomes as crucial to national, regional, continental and global trade, development and interaction as the utilities of water and energy are to all human activities. In this case, all initiatives, programs and projects in all sectors and at all levels should incorporate relevant ICT applications on the one hand and, on the other, ICT initiatives and programs should take into cognisance the needs of all other sectors for sustainable development. Through partnerships at local, national, regional and continental levels coupled with cross-border ICT connectivity, Africa can consciously and successfully develop and exchange local content. To achieve this, the use of local languages, the exchange of local cultures and the development of local programs have to be aggressively pursued and supported by governments, businesses and civil society. Africa has a rich legacy of cultural products that could be developed and packaged for new media dissemination on the continent and outside. Furthermore, ICT should be used extensively to increase general and digital literacy and expertise, especially among the youth and children, while using them to enhance the development of local content. When ordinary people can relate to ICTs in their languages, and when these reflect and are reflective of their cultures and traditions, ICTs are more likely to be embraced and become an integral part of the lives of Africans, thus enabling them to benefit more fully from ICT applications. But before content development can be made viable, Africa must take a serious approach to developing business models for transforming content to viable e-business. Incubators and stimulating content industry spin-offs should be promoted, and training programmes developed to improve the entrepreneurial skills of content developers.

166 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Specific programs and projects utilising ICT applications in areas like education and skills development, health, agriculture, culture and governance would go a long way in making accelerated progress towards increasing general literacy, health and productivity, and enhance sustainable development. The commitment to provide faster and cheaper Internet access to schools, libraries, research institutions and health facilities should be paramount and could be achieved through active promotion of alternative infrastructure, such as wireless, satellite and cable networks. Extensive focus should also be placed on developing goods for the advanced markets of the North. With significant pockets of programming and IT skills, the development of R&D and ICT hubs to develop software that addresses the needs of developing countries (tele-health, tele-education, translation software, and more), and services to provide back-office support to international clients may still be untapped markets. These hubs often act as magnets in attracting additional investment into relevant countries. Capacity and Institutional Development The availability of the appropriate skills base is an important determinant of the growth of information supply activities, and these contribute to human resource development. At the same time, the skills base must be understood as an important risk factor in appraising communications network infrastructure expansion and ICT applications projects. Without available skills to operate and maintain the physical infrastructure, as well as develop and maintain software, users or potential users will naturally be unable to take advantage of the infrastructure, which itself will therefore not be used to its full potential. Currently in Africa, the availability of specialist training in infrastructure operations and installations and competition regulation is extremely limited. Two major regional centres of training in telecommunications—ESMT, in Senegal, for Francophone countries and

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 167

AFRALTI, in Kenya, for Anglophone countries— currently provide some training for ICT. A number of telecommunications operators also maintain their own training schools, but these suffer from lack of financial resources and are inadequate to meet the urgent requirements of the industry. Furthermore, as these entities are progressively privatised, there is a trend towards closing these down as a downsizing and cost-cutting exercise. There is also reluctance by the new private owners of operating entities to give basic and even further developmental training for their staff, leading to a culture of poaching among the operators and regulators within countries and cross-border. It is, therefore, crucial that the sector reforms address this issue of basic training and developmental training so as to ensure the existence of sustainable quality facilities accessible to all in the sector to ensure continued and improved availability of the requisite professional and operational human resource. Here, strong collaboration and partnerships are required between the public and the private sectors, including international and multilateral organisations. Africa should learn from India that rather than trying to legislate against staff poaching and brain-drain, instead over-train and re-train, and utilise better and motivate. That way, you not only reduce the impact of the brain drain, but you change it to “brain-export”. Africa can do this and even develop research and nascent manufacturing industries in ICT, taking advantage of the many assets in the continent that give us advantage over the more expensive economies and congested environments of the Northern and Eastern countries. Human Resource Development (HRD) as well as Research and Development (R&D) in Africa should of necessity be considered an investment and not an overhead cost in all sectors and by both local public and private investors as well as civil society. To this end, a program is required to support an Africa-wide network of training and research and development institutions (both virtual and physical) to develop and share resources. The failure of existing institutions set up for this purpose needs to be examined. Such institutions

168 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development should be equipped with sustainable training resources and research programmes. Again, policy and regulatory capacity development can be a phase of an ongoing programme to develop ICT skills and applied research regionally or continentally. Such programmes should be accredited and reciprocal to facilitate mobility with a common market framework. Key institutions in the major regions could be identified to develop co-operative programmes and to co-ordinate efforts and resource allocation within the region. Embryonic initiatives of this kind are emerging at training institutions throughout the continent and these should be formalised into clear plans of action. Partnering with mature training institutions is one of the mechanisms that could drive such a process. An additional approach to capacity building and institutional development is through frequent exchange of information, experiences and lessons between African policy makers and regulators, including cross-border use of local experts and professionals. Finally, there is a need to promote general ICT diffusion and raise awareness and appreciation as well as e-literacy among our populations, especially children and youth. This should be coupled with efforts to demystify and de-demonise ICT for people to accept it as an everyday tool and not an end to itself. ICTs (inclusively, not only computing), I believe, can be used to improve the level of basic education and literacy of African children and youth. This can be done by targeting and ensuring that basic education and literacy change from the traditional “3Rs” (reading, writing and arithmetic) to a higher standard that can be referred to as “LNCI” or Literacy—reading and writing, Numeracy—working with numbers, Communicacy—communicating effectively, Innovativeness/Initiative. Success in this would give Africa the required pool of people to develop higher skills to use efficiently and productively in the competitive and technologically fast knowledge-based economy and society of the 21st century. It will give Africa’s education, human resource development, as well as research and development the ability to “cheetah-pole-vault” so as to catch-up with the rest of the global community.

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 169

Development of ICT Performance Indicators There is a need to develop consolidated ICT performance indicators relevant to the African environment, which will be updated on a frequent basis and serve as a reliable and current data source for stakeholders at national, regional, continental and global levels. Government-on-line (e-Government) There is also a need to promote the use of ICT to provide better, cheaper and faster government services and information electronically, increase citizens’ participation in decision-making and facilitate good governance. To accomplish this, an effort should be made to develop comprehensive and active websites for governments in phases until all governments are covered. Such websites would provide facilities to enable interactive consultation among agencies, and between agencies and customers, and enable the public to offer structured feedback on policy issues. Accelerated Rural/Universal Connectivity Universal national and cross-border rural connectivity in ICT is a compelling obligation if Africa is to fulfil its responsibilities to all its people. Specific initiatives in this regard should involve the following: a. Implement best practices and learn from “worst/bad” practices in national and cross-border rural connectivity programs; b. Develop and promote use of rural connectivity tool-kits; c. Establish innovative funding schemes to facilitate SMME participation; and d. Coordinate and synchronise rural connectivity initiatives and activities at national and cross-border levels.

170 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development “Smart Subsidy” Initiatives There is a need to develop result-oriented funds, which do not distort the market, to be used as subsidies to kick-start targeted ICT projects that are commercially viable, cut across borders and are particularly beneficial to rural communities. This could include the following specific actions: a. Develop transparent guidelines for the management and distribution of fund; b. Develop a methodology for the analysis of ICT projects, which could qualify for ‘smart subsidies’; and c. Identify sponsors for funding. “ICT Cities” Initiatives We should develop in each African country, a critical mass of ICT industries, related services, and resource base that can effectively target offshore outsourcing markets, promote local ICT hardware and software manufacturing, develop and trade-in local ICT (digital) expertise and local content. We could, for example: a. Develop a framework for effective development of ICT cities; b. Identify technical assistance and partnerships; and c. Collate best practice experiences at the national and sub-regional levels.

e-Schools and e-Health

There is a need for computers for schools and youth centre modules for digital training and general ICT literacy, networking of schools and youth centres, and access to cheaper and faster Internet and multi-media

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 171

facilities. We should also develop the capacity for extensive and intensive use of ICT in preventive and curative health in general as well as in specific programs, such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and Malnutrition. Electronic linking and virtual networking of health clinics/centres, hospitals and laboratories nationally so as to provide improved and advanced health access, especially to rural communities, remote areas and the under-served poor urban areas, is one way to approach this. e-Agriculture We could greatly advance agricultural productivity through the extensive use of ICT and electronic media to, for example: a. Improve the cultivation and use of agricultural inputs (seeds, fertilizer, medicines, tools/plants, amongst others); b. Improve weather and other natural forecasting information, particularly for rural productive areas; c. Improve information on market prices and marketing of agricultural products; and d. Improve delivery of rural products to markets in rural, urban cross-border and international markets.


We start the Year 2003 looking forward to the World Summit on Information Society in Geneva in 2003, and Tunisia in 2005. It is, therefore, proper that we reflect first on what Africa has to do to propel herself into the Information Society and hence become active and benefiting players in globalisation. Secondly, we should also reflect on what Africa expects from the rest of the global community as partners and fellow members of this Information Society. Info-Communication (ICT), as

172 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development stated earlier, is not an end by itself, but one of the means or tools for social, economic and cultural development as well as for all human activity. ICT is one of the critical tools for empowering individuals, communities, countries, regions and continents in their struggle for social, economic, cultural and political development as well as for improving their quality of life. The WSIS, we believe, is a recognition of this fact as well, in that by transcending the barriers of the digital divide within and between communities, countries and regions, we shall be able to empower humanity to participate fully in their own development and in positive globalisation. We expect that WSIS will bring into focus how information and knowledge exchange and related digital opportunities can be harnessed to become one of the facilitative tools in addressing the numerous objectives and declarations of the many Global Summits that have taken place over the last two decades, all aimed at addressing the many problems that our planet and its inhabitants face. It is hoped that the WSIS will be able to develop a shared vision and mutual political, corporate and moral will and commitment to make ICT that crucial tool in reality and for the Information Society to be inclusive, effective and mutually beneficial. This, of course, means each and every citizen, community, country, region and continent takes full responsibility for the exercise while recognising and facilitating mutual partnership. The African Connection and similar African initiatives are Africa’s ambitious and courageous attempts and commitment to address this challenge. This chapter is a humble attempt at putting these ideas and vision together. It is intended to trigger debate that may hopefully lead to development of some coherent strategies and actions by Africa’s public, private and civil society, with partnerships from outside Africa. This is not an attempt to raise all the issues nor answer all the questions. At the end of the day, development is first internally intended and pushed, then externally facilitated and assisted through mutually beneficial partnership with equitable sharing of responsibilities. It is a business, not a philanthropy.

Info-communication for Development in Africa ✦ OleKambainei & Sintim-Misa ✦ 173

1. I would like to dedicate this chapter to the African Ministers of Communications for their African vision and African Connection initiative in 1998, and to the African Connection Secretariat for use in this chapter of various presentations we have made in the past and to Ms. Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa, for her leadership, professionalism, commitment to Africa and leadership of the African Connection secretariat as its Chief Executive Officer. 2. Info-communication and ICT have been used in this chapter interchangeably to signify the combination of all those areas traditionally known as telecommunication, information technologies (IT), radio and TV broadcasting, online publishing and postal services, including the ultimate multimedia. 3.


Dr. Nii Narku Quaynor1
eAfrica Program Commissioner, Internet & Software Development


Africa’s Digital Rights

Today, the new buzzword in describing the state of the Internet in Africa is the number of exchange points, which are a local interconnection among providers to increase their local speed of communication and reduce somewhat what they pay for International traffic. Though exchange points are good, we do not see this as a good measure. — N I I N A R K U Q U AY N O R

A Vision for Information Freedom

Africa faces a threat of extended economic oppression and strangulation in the new information-intensive global economy, unless it acts proactively to acquire access to, and effective mastery of the facilities of information and communications technologies. The Internet and related software have become driving elements of worldwide ICT and ought to be the priority ingredient in all Information for Development visions. This chapter presents a vision of the eAfrica Commission of NEPAD as it relates to Internetworking and Software Systems covering a period of 10 years. 175

176 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development According to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report of 2002, 127 countries, with 34% of the world’s population, have not grown at the rate of 3.7% in per capita incomes, which is needed to halve the share of people living on or less than $1 a day. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the quality of life has actually regressed, and the quality of life of its very poor people is getting worse. The number of people living on $1 a day or less, increased from 242.3 million at the start of the 1990s to 300 million at the end (See Table 10–1). How we ensure that ICT is engaged to reduce poverty and prevent technical know-how from becoming a tool of oppression and further colonisation of the people of Africa is of paramount importance to the development community. The same Human Development Report also reveals some startling statistics: • The world’s richest 1% of people receive as much income as the poorest 57%. • The richest 10% of the U.S. population have an income equal to that of the poorest 43% of the world. In other words, the income of the richest 25 million Americans is equal to that of almost 2 billion people. • The income of the world’s richest 5% is 114 times that of the poorest 5%.
Table 10–1: Worldwide—No. of people living on less than $1 a day (millions)
1987 1990 1993 1996 1998 1999

Sub-Saharan Africa East Asia and the Pacific Excluding China South Asia Latin America and the Caribbean Eastern Europe and Central Asia Middle East and North Africa TOTAL Excluding China

217.2 417.5 114.1 474.4 63.7 1.1 9.3 1,183.2 879.8

242.3 452.4 92.0 495.1 73.8 7.1 5.7 1,276.4 915.9

273.3 289.0 290.9 431.9 265.1 278.3 83.5 55.1 65.1 505.1 531.7 522.0 70.8 76.0 78.2 18.3 23.8 24.0 5.0 5.0 5.5 1,304.3 1,190.6 1,198.9 955.9 980.5 985.7

300 260 46 490 77 17 7 1,151 936

Source: World Bank Poverty Site, UNDP HRD Report 2002

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 177

A recent study by ORBICOM on “Monitoring the Digital Divide” in 9 sample countries, and using Canada as the benchmark, concludes that progress in narrowing the Digital Divide is unsatisfactory (see Table 10–2). The study also said “it could literally take generations before a substantial narrowing of the Digital Divide takes place without further intervention.”
Table 10–2: The Evolution of the Digital Divide
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000

Canada China Colombia Finland India Malaysia Mexico Senegal South Africa

100.0 5.2 14.4 114.7 2.7 25.2 16.8 2.9 25.5

100.0 7.0 17.5 107.3 3.2 32.8 18.0 3.9 28.1

100.0 7.1 18.6 108.8 3.6 33.0 19.0 4.3 28.3

100.0 7.5 19.6 101.5 3.8 31.9 21.1 4.9 27.7

100.0 9.9 21.2 97.0 4.3 32.7 24.9 5.7 28.8

100.0 10.2 20.9 91.0 4.6 32.8 27.6 7.1 28.2

Source: “Monitoring the Digital Divide”, Orbicom-CIDA Project, 2002

As things stand at present, Africa does comparatively little manufacturing or processing and can hardly count on reliable utility services, such as electricity, water supply and telecommunications, with which to undertake these processes as well as enjoy quality life. Add to this, the glaring absence of industrial capacity for the synthesis of new materials and advanced information technologies that are now becoming an activity of competitive advantage in a global economy in relation to knowledge services, and we have a serious problem. It is therefore certain that unless Africa takes drastic steps to overcome these deficiencies, it will be very difficult for her to meaningfully participate in the emerging new economy. Furthermore, it is doubtful whether any competitive advances would be possible in the new global knowledge economy, without addressing the lapses in the functions of the industrial economy that preceded it. Basically, the various infrastructure and info-structure needed for such competitiveness would not be available. The solution for us, therefore, is to seek to bridge the

178 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development digital divide by deliberately utilising the advantages of the Internet and software technologies. A major strategic initiative under the Global Bridge the Digital Divide (BDD) Program must focus on twin strategies: 1. BDD for social upliftment and e-enablement; and 2. BDD for economic empowerment via e-commerce. Africa can bridge the digital divide given its history of strong elements of Information Processing tools, such as its calculating board instruments. These board instruments had supported early African societies with such calculations as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of up to 10 digit numbers.2. A set of calculating boards readily record information. Thus, though Information processing is not foreign to the African society, it has not, in recent times and given the acceleration of new electronic technologies, developed in pace with the rest of the world. This chapter first presents a proposal of a preferred measure of progress of ICT development in Africa using the Internet as a vehicle. An ICT vision for Africa is thereafter articulated showing the transformation from a learning society to a learned society, in which knowledge products with secured intellectual property are primary outputs of industry. To accomplish this, an eAfrica Agenda is defined that identifies the key components to be strengthened in order to be able to implement the vision. The synergy of the components is relevant in creating good dynamics for development. The core digital rights principles and an implementation framework is specified to ensure satisfactory footprints of the ensuing interventions of the eAfrica Commission.

Internet Measures

In the early 90s, the common method of describing the state of Internetworking of the African continent was simply whether there existed an

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 179

interconnection to the global Internet.3 These were often shown on maps that used colors to distinguish between no connections, email only, or full Internet availability (see Figure 10–1). Due to the concerted effort of indigenous enthusiasts with some overseas assistance, the entire continent soon gained full connectivity within a decade. There was mention of access from secondary cities as a new measure, but it soon became obvious that many developed societies did not have access in all their secondary cities, and the measure quietly disappeared from the literature. There were some developing countries with effective Intranets, but they had no connection to the international public Internet network. We have had to contend with a new measure of aggregate bandwidth in any given country as the indicator of Internet development on the African continent. This was at a time when the international connectivity bandwidths of several countries were sub-rates of the common basic unit of bandwidth of 2 MBPS. Today, many of the countries on the continent have in excess of 2 MBPS public Internet bandwidth
Figure 10–1: Interconnection to the Global Internet

180 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development connectivity to the Internet. Thus this has now become a beauty contest of who is willing to pay more money to the International community. These international Internet links require that the country seeking a connection pay for both half circuits, in-country and in the termination country, at unusually very high rates, several times larger than same bandwidth purchased in the developed countries. This is thus more a measure of capital flight than of how ICT is advancing the social development of Africa. The focus turned to the number of users, with calculations of penetration described in colorful charts showing how poorly Africa was performing in accepting the Internet and its promises. During these times, the continent was ridiculed with acclaimed high growth rates the developing countries were supposedly enjoying. These claims of the number of users doubling every few months have all been demonstrated to be mere marketing spins by corporations in developed countries to enhance their exploitation of the global economic system to the disadvantage of Africa. In any case, the number of users is a volatile measure, which changes rapidly as users depart the service and new users enter into service. Likewise, it did not capture the numerous occasional users who often used universal access services. Therefore, we at the eAfrica Commission do not consider the number of users to be a good measure to characterise Internet development in Africa. Today, the new buzzword in describing the state of the Internet in Africa is the number of exchange points, which are a local interconnection among providers to increase their local speed of communication and reduce somewhat what they pay for International traffic. Though exchange points are good, we do not see this as a good measure. In fact, we wonder why the developed countries do not have many exchange points and yet they seem eager to want to mislead us in this direction. The United States of America has only a handful of Internet exchanges to which the entire global community connects. The proliferation of Internet exchanges needs to be based strictly on local traffic in order for costs to desired locations to be meaningful.

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 181

Internet Domain Names and Addresses The Internet info-structure has two main parts: domain names and addresses. We look to these two structures as a way of defining measures of Internet for the eAfrica Commission. This is better as it relates to the fundamental workings of the Internet technology. We recognise that domain name as a measure is fuzzy and is a mixture of global names, whose destinations cannot be traced easily to Africa, as well as countrybased domain names, which can be operated from anywhere. This great flexibility in the domain name system reduces the efficacy of the names as a measure of Internet development in Africa. The addresses on the other hand have been specified to be within regions of continental sizes. The allocation of the addresses is also managed regionally by regional organisations, which are address registries that ensure uniqueness of the blocks allocated to providers in the region. Furthermore, the allocations are based on the demonstrable use of previous allocations and the presented network plan of organisations. Although the emerging African Address Registry, AfriNIC, is not fully established, information from existing registries covering the Africa region provide precise data on progress in Africa. The eAfrica Commission will use addresses as the primary measure of growth in Internetworking in Africa. This measure lends itself to similar detailed analyses of all the other measures including per capita studies and other higherlevel functionality, such as information flows. With respect to Internet addresses,4 the status of Africa may best be understood by consideration of Figures 10–2 to 10–6. About 43% of possible addresses in Ipv4 address space had been pre-allocated prior to systematic allocations through Regional Internet Registries. The three Registries located in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific have since allocated 6%, 4%, and 4% of the addresses respectively, amounting to approximately 256 million addresses. The allocation within Africa, a continent yet to have a Registry, is included in the figures of the three registries. This amounts to 2 million addresses, as shown in Figure 10–4.

182 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development In other words, the three Registries have allocated less than one percent of the addresses directly to ISPs or organisations in Africa. Note that this percentage is significantly less than one percent when one includes the pre-allocated addresses (43% of the addresses), which had previously been allocated to non-African countries.
Figure 10–2: IANA Allocation IPv4 Address Space

Muliticast 6% ARIN 6%

Other Org . (pre-RIR) 43% Unallocated 37%

Figure 10–3: IPv4 Allocations per RIR 1999–2002
40,000,000 35,000,000 30,000,000 25,000,000 20,000,000 15,000,000 10,000,000 5,000,000 0 0.79 0.52 0.92 0.57 0.92 0.69 RIPE NCC APNIC ARIN 1.50 1.29 2.05 1.71 1.51 2.25





Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 183 Figure 10–4: Region Summary
Source Countries ISP/LIR Addresses CIDR Block Revenue USD


1 4 21 26

1 19 69 89

8,192 933,888 1,187,840 2,129,920

/19 ~/12 ~/12 ~/11

2,500 52,250 110,000 164,750

The number and geographic distribution of organisations in Africa that have received allocations is shown in Figure 10–6. Observe that the six leading countries in Africa, according to this measure of the number of organisations receiving addresses directly are Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya and Ghana. This is contrary to what is usually expressed by earlier more subjective measures. It comes as a real surprise, because few cite Nigeria or Algeria as making progress with respect to Internet or ICT, but this measure observes their progress. The number of organisations receiving these addresses directly from the Registries, as shown, continues to grow and is depicted in Figure 10–5. This illustrates a growth from 15 organisations in 1998 to 86 organisations in 2002.
Figure 10–5: ISP/LIR Growth
100 79 80 60 40 27 20 0 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 15 86


184 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Figure 10–6: Member Distribution 26 Countries/89 ISP/LIR
2 9 1 1 1 31 1 10 1 RIP NCC 21 /69 1 1 2 1 1 ARIN 4 / 19 1 15 APNIC 1/1 7 1 1 2 21

1 1

There is available, a block of 37% of un-allocated address space and a 6% space reserved for multicast applications. The registries allocate other number spaces, such as Ipv6 and ASN numbers, but it suffices to work with the Ipv4 allocations in this instance.

The ICT Vision for Africa

The ICT vision for Africa is to establish ICT, in particular the Internet, as an empowerment tool, and through that, reinforce the people to become critical players in the social and economic transformation of the continent. The eAfrica vision is a three-step vision, which is intended to transform Africa first from a “Learning” society to a “Knowledge” society and, finally, to a “Wise” society (see Figure 10–7). Such a transformation needs to generate actions on both the economic and social axes in order

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 185

to leave an acceptable footprint. The vision may thereafter elaborate on other axes of interest.
Figure 10–7: eAfrica Vision
2005 Sustainable Knowledge Economy Economic 2008 Wise Society 2010

Knowledge Society

Knowledge Products Learning Society ICT Institutions Social Learning & Access Culture & Innovation Quality of Life

The first phase is to empower the people while ICT is positioned as a management instrument for economic development, and access for learning is achieved in the societies. A society with a culture of learning is the result. Subsequently, in the second phase, knowledge products and services are focused on as the economic output of ICT institutions in a sector. In this phase, the use of information and the culture of innovation and creations are encouraged as social values. A knowledge society is the result. In the third and final phase, a sustainable economy is built around knowledge products by securing the Intellectual Property that is uniquely African while ensuring that the quality of life is enhanced socially with the benefits of ICT. The prevalent structure of society reflects those who have a means and those who do not. Africa exhibits similar structures, except that the “haves”, even though they are ineffective “haves”, are insignificant in

186 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development number. They are only apparently excessively endowed economically in a people-centered information society. In fact, the very few that are well-endowed economically are equally poor in information know-how. Africa therefore survives on the knowledge of the many “information have-nots”. This necessitates making the inclusion of ICT into society an Information Right without which there will be further deprivation. The fact is that the “economic-haves” do not have impediments beyond a value appreciation of ICT, whereas the “information poor” have insurmountable barriers to participating in the new information economy that is emanating from the barriers that poverty imposes. The opportunities of the application of ICT in these informationpoor countries are manifold: • Improvements in overall productivity and daily routine of society. • Good governance through consultative decision-making and partnerships. • Enhanced social and economic development through carefully engineered productivity improvements. • Richer lifestyles and life fulfillment through culture, education and recreation. The failure, however, to utilise ICT in poverty reduction will lead to gross inequities that will fuel global unrest and threaten peace and harmony. For those who may question the basis for this caution, even though the entire African community is at risk, nonetheless important sub-groups may be identified. These include rural communities, the urban poor, women, youth, the disabled, orphans, senior citizens, street hawkers, workers, and SMEs. The need, therefore, is to define specific programs in ICT that focus on these groups. The indigenous population, on the whole, is an at-risk group who need special attention. The ICT programs that focus on these groups should be clearly defined, identified and addressed as part of the Global BDD Agenda.

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 187

The eAfrica Agenda The African ICT agenda on Internetworking and software is defined as having six components in policy environments. Several facilities considered prerequisites for rapid assimilation of ICT do not exist and hence institutional development becomes an essential piece of the agenda. Likewise, much of Info-structure is non-existent in Africa and must be established as part of the development dynamic. These particular components, institutions and info-structures make the eAfrica Commission agenda distinct from other proposed agenda.5 The Components of the Agenda The components contemplated include human capital (people), institutions, enterprise, infrastructure, info-structure and content with applications. The ICT agenda is implemented in an environment of global, regional and national policy frameworks (see Figure 10–8). All the components interact within the policy environments to achieve the vision of creating a “wise society” in 10 years. These interrelated areas complement each other in ensuring an adequate footprint in all interventions in ICT, especially the Internet.6 All the components are important and the degree of emphasis would vary as the scheme is adapted from location to location for Africa’s advancement. In this environment the role of global policy organisations is as important as that of nation states as well as that of international development partners with complementary agendas. The agenda includes: • Human capital: The people are the most important currency in a knowledge economy and must be consciously developed and accounted for. Aside from the tangible human values essential in knowledge development, they come with their own norms and values reflected in ethics and language, among others. These are a very essential part of knowledge products. The preparedness of the people and the availability of adequate access to information

188 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Figure 10–8: The eAfrica Agenda
Global Policy Environment Human Capital




Content & Applications

Infrastructure Local Policy Environment

services would lead to the desired innovations. Knowledge workers, computer science leaders and entrepreneurs must be created for sustenance. • Institutions: ICT must be supported and fully established. There is the need to build and support institutions in the public, private and non-profit sectors, many of which have very weak ICT focus. These institutions will then become repositories of knowledge and behavior as well as enforcers of key processes for society. Institutional capacity is relevant for sustenance of ICT development in Africa. • Enterprise: The growth of ICT is led by the private sector in a policy environment with the non-profit organisations. This community needs to be strengthened with the keys to business, including property rights, finance, tax regime, indigenous participation rights, market development and stimulation of demand. • Infrastructure: We must continuously enhance the Infrastructure to transport knowledge products and services. These have suffered in

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 189

the past because there has not been sufficient coverage of the demography to be effective in reaching the majority of the community. • Info-structure: The logical structures that utilise infrastructures to make the knowledge services seamless have in the past been performed on behalf of Africa outside of the continent. The end result is that the info-structure of the developed countries is enhanced at the expense of Africa’s own info-structure development. Examples of these include Internet names and numbers registries, certificate authorities, secure-key escrow, legal framework and others. • Content and Applications: The content and applications that will enable the realisation of the desires of the people and institutions, for quality use of the infrastructure and the related info-structures. • Local/Global Policy: ICT is developed within a framework of policies, which may be global, regional and local. The more transparent and inclusive the policy regimes, the more they attract participation from the components of the dynamic. An adequate regulatory framework needs to be created, but this must be flexible to admit newer technologies knowing full well that policy lags behind technology advancement. Implementing the eAfrica Agenda This approach offers flexibility in the emphasis on the policy environments as well as the components of the development dynamics. To derive an implementation framework, therefore, requires preparation, development of an implementation plan and an associated footprint analysis to keep the implementation goal-oriented (see Figure 10–9). During the preparatory phase, the eAfrica vision is crystallised, and clear development goals (probably related to the Millennium goals) are determined. Various national and regional eStrategies are harmonised for coordinated action in Africa. An important part of this phase is the initiation of an Observatory function to keep track of all on-going ICT activities.

190 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Figure 10–9: Implementation Strategy
Preparation Vision Goals eStrategies Observatory Plan Priorities Interventions Fund Raising Footprint Economic Social

Subsequently, in the planning phase, priorities and specific interventions that match available funding are initiated. Given the eAfrica commitment to ensuring that every intervention leaves behind a satisfactory “footprint”, all the interventions will be continuously assessed along both the economic and social value axes.

Digital Rights Principles

The digital divide has often been defined in terms of ICT gaps between one society and another more developed society, or between a community and another considered more developed. We find this inadequate because, for it to be meaningful, it must be normalised and applied to all other sectors of development. We note that there are gaps in agriculture, manufacturing, education and health, to name a few sectors, as well between Africa and the developed societies. In all these cases, not only are the products and services under-developed, but they are also dependent on acquiring further services from the developed countries. This may be an unfortunate form of dependency that may be reduced with the careful utilisation of ICT. The preferred definition of the digital divide is self-relative, and is a measure of how much of an economy is derived through ICT. In this regard, every sector strives to apply more and more ICT while ICT is developed as an identifiable sector.

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 191

The goal will be to provide basic ICT access to all institutions including the at-risk groups in the society, while making global information available to all for competitive knowledge creation: • The scaling of the little local expertise through the utilisation of ICT in enhancing their impact on the community in all aspects of society. Despite the need to produce more well-trained human resources, in the meantime the few qualified resources must be made to serve more people with use of the Internet and ICT to accelerate development. • Ensure that ICT, Internet and Software Development are applied to address the Millennium Development goals in poverty reduction. • Preservation of the intellectual property in language, culture, music, art, medicine, among others, to ensure that in the anticipated global knowledge economy, any value that accrues as a result of African heritage is protected for the benefit of its impoverished peoples. Currently, a fair amount of genuine African Intellectual Property is in free use through a variety of schemes. • Balance in national policy and global policy is essential because much of the policy and standards pertaining to the transport of information services is determined globally. Yet successful implementation depends on local national environments and supports. • Synergy within the six components of the environment (which are the people, institutions, infrastructure, enterprise, info-structure, and content/applications) would be desirable. Intense interaction among the five elements and the environment would be key to achieving the goals of the Africa digital rights vision. • Utilise all resources and stakeholders—public, private, non-profit and traditional institutions—to mobilise attention to the deployment of ICT in African societies. Accepting the interests of these varied groups will moderate the goals and expectations of the programmes. • Establish policy and implementation coordination guidelines for the African region to make easy interconnections and cooperation in ICT deployment possible.

192 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Prioritise educational and training programmes to first create the creators of money, followed by managers of money and finally users of money in ICT services. Africa is able to produce professionals to the highest of levels of specialisation as needed and must resolve retention of capacity and engagement of the Diaspora. • Provide Internet and Software Development Services support to all the programs of the eAfrica Commission. • Leverage on the other eAfrica Commission programs to enhance Internet and Software Development. • Identify and implement relevant pilot projects and incubate innovation centers of Internet and Software Development. • Incorporate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of the proposed pilot projects. • Incorporate a business model approach with community participation in all pilot projects so as to ensure project sustainability and potentials for project upscaling and replicability. • Establish an integrated platform for learning based on the Internet, and open standards in order for the community to enjoy the rights to lifelong learning through formal and informal activities. Implementation Framework for Action The Implementation Framework is organised along the components of the African Digital Agenda. These are not intended to be specific projects, but a framework within which specific projects may be defined to meet digital divide needs. See Figure 10–10 for the scope of actions within component areas of the eAfrica Agenda. The scope includes activities in community development, institutional development, industrial development, access, connectivity, and content and applications. The role of national and regional policy in stimulating the intended development of these six components is emphasised as being the “middleman” and a source of energy for growth. The global policy as pertaining to the Internet and other software activities are very important to the success of the actions. Similarly, donor organisations have unique contributions in shaping the actions stipulated.

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 193 Figure 10–10: Scope of Implementation Framework
Community Development Capacity, Awareness, Training, Skills Change National & Regional Policy Regional Policy Regulatory Harmonization Connectivity Affordable Connectivity Where Needed

Donor Coordination

Institutional Development Internet, Software, Standards, Certification Access Equitable Access to ICT Services

Industrial Development Finance, IPR Demand Payments Content & Applications Local Content Community Applications

Global Policy

Framework for Action The proposed framework for implementing the Africa BDD Agenda is based on the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Action) Cycle, as follows: Plan • Identify the real needs of the targeted at-risk community; • Identify the key players (public, private and civil society organisations) and the leaders of the targeted community; and • Form a Programme Planning Implementation Team comprising of members from public, private and civil society organisations, leaders of the target community, and others who have genuine interests to assist. Do • Describe the problem/issue in terms of seriousness and magnitude; • Formulate a thesis statement; • Propose pilot projects, expected deliverables/outcome, and action plans;

194 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Identify project champions/promoters, project managers and various project partners (content and technology); • Identify sources of funding and obtain the necessary resources required; • Form Project Implementation & Management Teams; • Determine the scope of work and terms of reference for team members; and • Implement pilot projects using the integrated project management model. Check • Set up a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to review stages of project implementation; • Determine a standardised project-reporting format; • Identify weaknesses and shortcomings; and • Take appropriate action to overcome the weaknesses or shortcomings identified. Action • Document all project reports, experiences and lessons learnt; • Publish and publicise successful projects; and • Plan for project upscaling and replication in other areas. Global Policy A lot of the standards activity and policy for a global network, such as the Internet, is developed globally by participation in several International forums. In the Internet community, a number of these forums are relevant and include ICANN (policy & coordination), IETASK FORCE (IP standards), ITU (link level standards), Unicode (character representation standards), W3C (web standards) and others. There are also donor agencies that are supporting Africa’s digital divide initiatives through mainstreaming ICT for development. The initiatives include:

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 195

• Identification of important forums, maintaining contacts with organisers, disseminating such information to stakeholders and facilitating their participation; • Coordination of country programs and donor programs to achieve optimum benefit for the region; • Establishment of relations with various silicon valleys overseas and cyber villages for maximum technical exchange; and • Enhancement of African participation in Internet/software Global policy Forums by assisting in reducing barriers. Local/Regional Policy Local and Regional policy has a compelling impact on the acceleration of ICT and Internet advancement. Many countries are continuously evolving their national policies and strategies. Some initiatives are: • Identification of important forums, maintaining contacts with organisers, disseminating such information to stakeholders and facilitating their participation. • Networking and Software associations are critical to keeping abreast of developments in the industry. They also form an industry body that gives input to policy makers on proposals. These would be strengthened. • Coordination of the various country programs for effective regional harmonisation and interconnections as necessary. • Establishment of relations with various silicon valleys and cyber villages in Africa for maximum technical exchange and networking. • An Observatory to study, track and report the progress made in ICT, Internet and software for Africa is to be developed. This effort would also evaluate the footprint of various interventions. Enterprise The private sector’s role in the diffusion of ICT and the Internet cannot be underestimated, considering the inter-relationship of economic and

196 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development social developments in the eAfrica vision of creating a wise society in a decade. The unique role of the private sector in the creation of jobs for knowledge workers and developing infrastructure and info-structure are key to building a sustainable development dynamic. Some of these initiatives are: • Finance and Credit facilities for ICT would be developed either through specific ICT development banks or through funds exercised through the existing development banks. Venture capital is scarce, but is considered an alternative as wealth creation ventures mature. • The creation of an environment that attracts foreign investment without excluding indigenous players from genuine participation in the ICT industry is paramount. • Intellectual property laws and other property laws that secure investment and protect the creations of Africa and its partners must be developed. • The creation of competition among providers by funding the demand side of ICT to stimulate the market. • Ensuring that electronic payments become an acceptable practice in the society in order to fuel e-commerce development. • Looking to incubators as a vehicle for initiating new enterprises that will keep Africa involved in ICT technology production activities, not only usage. • Positioning the uniquely African assets, intellectual property, for competition in the global market. • Considering chambers of commerce and other business roundtables as instruments for injecting ICT, Internet, and Software into commercial concerns. Human Capital In the vision of creating a wise society, the quality and values of human capital become a determinant of success. Activities that stimulate,

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 197

strengthen and organise human resources for action are desired. Some initiatives are: • Technical skills are on the critical path of Africa’s entry into the ICT, Internet and software arena. The few such professionals are overused and practically inaccessible. This bottleneck must be quickly eliminated by a buildup of critical mass of highly specialised professionals with international-level quality skills. • Support for academic programs in computer network architectures and software development, in particular, and computer science in general. These computer science programs would be engaged in collaborative networks to share teaching methods, faculty and exchange programs. Sufficient graduate programs in computer science and networking should be established to meet the needs of the continent in the stipulated timeframe. • Coordination of R&D centers in networks & software fields with interest in the more applied aspects of computing science and engineering. The new subject areas of next generation Internet, biotechnology, new materials, genetic programming and artificial intelligence may be rewarding topics for initial exploration. • Universal Internet Access services to bring the benefits to more of the people in Africa should be promoted. • Rural Internet solutions should be devised that can be readily deployed in rural communities at affordable prices. • Change Management should be deployed to assist the communities being impacted by the changes caused by ICT and the Internet. Institutions Many of the necessary institutions that support ICT absorption have not been constructed in many African societies. Yet institutional memory is paramount for sustainable systems, especially in the newer technology fields. Some initiatives include: • Networking & Software associations.

198 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Institutions for Internet in Africa and groups for ccTLD (AFTLD), for African ICANN (AfriCANN), for African Network Information Center (Address Registry AfriNIC), African Network Operators Group (technology transfer organisation AfNOG) and other trade associations, including African ISP Associations (AfrISPA). • Institutions for Software Development and Associations essential for promoting Africa’s participation in the industry. • Collaboration on software incubators with eAfrica business programmes. • Collaboration on software research with eAfrica Institution, Research & Space Communication Programmes. • Standards & certification programmes. Infrastructure The Internet and software require a variety of infrastructures to operate. Africa would prefer to participate in the development of these. Some Initiatives include: • Manufacture of hardware/software products to meet local needs, thus creating possibilities for innovative products that may compete globally. • Promotion of national Internet exchanges & regional inter-exchange carrier development to retain continental traffic completely terrestrial with minimum transit outside of Africa. • Collaboration with eAfrica Infrastructure programmes to establish terrestrial and International bandwidth needs of Internet services for the next decade. • Bulk purchase of International bandwidth to reduce costs of Internet connectivity to the international backbone. Info-structure There are a few information structures required to make the Internet function globally, and they must be developed to become competitive. Some of the initiatives include:

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 199

• Developing the country code Top Level Domain name (ccTLD) Registries in Africa to serve the local Internet community completely and ensure that capital flight, which occurs as a result of residents using global (international) generic Top Level Domain Names (gTLDs), ceases. • The eAfrica Commission should request the Top Level Domain “.Africa” be delegated and operate dotAfrica TLD for its purpose. • Supporting the AfriNIC Address Registry, a private non-profit organisation being established to allocate Internet numbers to the African community. • Promoting the establishment of Uniform Domain-Name DisputeResolution Policy( UDRP) service providers for Internet domain name disputes in Africa. • Supporting the operation of a Root Server in Africa as part of eAfrica’s desire to participate in all aspects of the Internet operation. • Internet and Software Laws are lagging behind the advancement in usage of these services, and this needs to be corrected. Content and Applications The principal contact of the majority of the community to the Internet and software is through access to content and the execution of applications. The eAfrica Commission has initiatives to address these, and they include: • Promoting new Internet applications, in particular, how Internet telephony (VOIP) may reduce costs of access, and also how to use Internet-enabled solutions to participate in e-commerce and e-tourism to Africa’s advantage. • Software development of African games is a natural point of entry for Africa into the industry and should be utilised to gain some intellectual property for these creations. • African languages must be available on the Internet and useable in software applications. Hence all the languages need to be registered and the corresponding alphabets properly included in Unicode. The

200 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development eAfrica would prepare for the introduction of Internationalised Internet Domain Names. Educational software tools present another opportunity for Africandeveloped software from the adaptation and creation of instructional material through stand-alone software or the Internet. Learning aids based on ICT for all levels of education should be developed specifically for Africa. Africa’s folklore, music, art, culture and herbal medicine need to be digitalized for preservation and protection of the Intellectual property. This database would become an asset in a knowledge society for economic purposes and for the improved quality of life of Africans and people of African descent. Microprocessor applications and instrumentation for SMEs is also a potential for innovation in simple system, hardware and software products peculiar to the needs of Africa, and would be developed. Small VSLI Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC) are of interest in solving unique system problems of the region. Design Centers and design entry are potential enterprises to be developed in support of ASIC applications. Methods of access to the internals of commonly available software is a must and consideration would be given to the merits of proprietary and open source tools as vehicles to realising the objective of enabling active development of software on the continent.

ICT Priority Areas

The details of ICT Priority Areas are best determined after an observatory is in place. However, the guideline is that projects that involve Africa in the development of technology and technology solutions should be of higher priority. Africa wishes to participate in the advancement of the technologies as well as their usage. Africa also wants to preserve its natural intellectual property as it relates to the emerging

Africa’s Digital Rights ✦ Quaynor ✦ 201

knowledge industry and therefore should be the ones to develop such projects. In BDD, there should be a balanced development between three strategic elements; namely, community development, connectivity and access, and content and application development. Each of the strategic elements will have to focus on priority areas, as follows: a. Community Development (Individuals and groups) • Human capability building (awareness, training & skills-development) • Institutional capacity building (arrangement/administrative machinery) • Sustainability (processes & empowerment) b. Connectivity and Access • Affordable network access • Affordable ICT appliances • Rules and procedures c. Content and Application Development • Relevant local content • Community-focused applications • Content management and knowledge sharing


There is hope that the application ICT, Internet and software technologies would reduce poverty and avert the potential of further oppression of Africa in the new information-intensive global economy. This chapter proposes a vision for information freedom and an agenda that will enable Africa narrow the digital divide while preserving its place in the

202 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development emerging knowledge-based global economy. The vision promises to initially create a learning society that can evolve to become a knowledge society and lead to a wise society that preserves its knowledge assets for global competitive positioning. It further proposes a framework for action that ensures that good footprints are the result of all interventions within the eAfrica vision.


1. I wish to acknowledge the contribution of Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Henry Chassia, Pierre Dandjinou, Pierre Ouedrago, Clement Dzidonu, Mouhamet Diop, K.J. John, William Tevie, Ernest Brown and Mawuko Zormelo. 2. N. Quaynor, J. Annan, “Oware: A Computing Instrument”, CAN 1990, Nigeria. 3. L. Landweber, ISOC, “International Connectivity”, (c)1991–1997. 4. Regional Internet Registries, RIPE NCC, ARIN, APNIC, LACNIC, AFRINIC, EAIF, August 2002. 5. Markle Foundation, Accenture, UNDP, “Creating a Development Dynamic”, February 5, 2002. 6. Clement Dzidonu, Nii Quaynor, “Footprint Concept”, 2002.


Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr. PhD
President and CEO, Telecom Africa Corporation


Building the Digital Bridge
Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies1

The industrial world must allow for the slightest possibility that Africans might one day develop the scientific and technological capacity to compete effectively against the world’s most powerful conglomerates. In a knowledge-based global environment, what it takes to do so is knowledge, information, intellectual capacity, access, opportunity and a level playing field. Africa’s potential in this regard is enormous, given the already large numbers of leading-edge African ICT experts spread throughout the world. — J O S E P H O . O K PA K U , S R .


I want to thank the United Nations for the wisdom in convening these two informal panels in parallel with the Special Meeting of the General Assembly on Information and Communications Technologies for 203

204 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Development, and the organisers for the priviledge of being invited to participate in these deliberations. My acceptance of the invitation is a triple recognition and acknowledgement of the honour it bestows, the urgency of the challenge we seek to master in these discussions, and the compelling importance of devising strategies for, and implementing solutions to the challenges of the Digital Divide before we become so used to them that we unconsciously begin to resist solutions for the fear of the loss that subtly accompanies the prospects of problem-solving.


For, in a complex way too detailed to go into here, there is a part of us that disposes us to become so enamoured of certain kinds of problems that we depend on their continuing existence to give efficacy to our urgent pre-occupations. In fact, to some extent, the more we invest in such problems, which I call “seemingly intractable problems”, the more we develop a dependence on them. Some of us build major careers on our expertise on problems, not on their solutions, since the former, being easier to master, offers a more reliable path to intellectual fame. Problem-solving is more risky and promises less, in the short-term and, consequently, has a lesser ability to attract what one might call “the ambitious realist”, because it is domiciled on slippery grounds. Significantly, perhaps unfortunately, the problems of development in the non-industrial world, particularly in Africa, and especially with respect to the handicaps of information and communications technologies capacity, fall into this category. The challenges of the Digital Divide are so intriguing, perhaps romantic in a way, that we must credit this lead 21st Century phenomenon with having created an enormous mass of scholarship, expertise, even an industry, all in the short span of only a few years from the formal birth of the expression, “the Digital Divide” in Okinawa during the G8 Summit meeting in the year 2000. As happens in

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 205

such dynamics, a tremendous amount of money and resources has been engendered and spent in the devolution of this phenomenon.

Our Challenge The question is: What do we have to show for it? How much have we accomplished? And of what we have accomplished, how much of it has or holds the potential to have a meaningful positive impact on the quality of life and competitive capacity of the people and society of Africa and the developing world on whose behalf all of this evolved? Furthermore, if our answers to these questions are less than enthusiastic, what have we failed to do, or done wrong, or need to do differently, in order to drive a direct and logical path from the problems of the Digital Divide to their solutions? How do we ensure the recognition of these gains and their entrenchment into the permanent fabric of the African society? This, I believe, coming from the back door so to speak, is the pre-occupation of this Special Meeting of the General Assembly, and the challenge to this panel and its sister panel of yesterday. The Metamorphosis of Problem-Solving Solving intractable problems of the sort to which we have classified the Digital Divide requires a coherent process which, in simple terms, involves the creation of a path along which we convert problems into challenges which, in turn we re-configure as opportunities, which themselves then naturally attract the intellect, capacity and resources of problem-solving by virtue of self-evident benefits accruable from responding to them. This engineered metamorphosis of the challenge of the Digital Divide from a problem to an opportunity is, for me, the best mechanism for bridging the gap. Our challenge here, therefore, becomes how we engineer this metamorphosis, and once the problems become opportunities, how we define and articulate the vision of an ICT-empowered developing world

206 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development (hopefully “newly-developed world” at that time). What strategies do we develop for its accomplishment, what resources do we identify and mobilise for the process, what indicators and benchmarks do we construct to guide and monitor the process, and what would also be the nature and image of the end-result we seek, so that we can identify success when we get there. These, again, are the questions before us.

Where We Are A tremendous amount of energy and resources has been committed to the definition of the reality and scope of the handicap Africa and the rest of the developing world suffer when it comes to the equity and parity of access to the facilities and corresponding benefits of information and communications technologies. At global, regional, national, private sector and civil society levels, there already exists such a large number of initiatives that the blurring and potential for acting at cross-purposes usually attendant to such circumstances have begun to kick-in. The United Nations ICT Task Force at the global pinnacle, alongside the G8 Dot Force Initiative, the Digital Divide Task Force of the World Economic Forum and the various continental efforts, such as the e-Africa Commission of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), are but a few. If, in spite of all of this, we still have not built the global wave of indefatigable momentum powerful and relentless enough to drive a process of transformation in and with ICT, chances are that our paradigm for bridging the Digital Divide needs corrective adjustments. The very fact of this gathering would seem to confirm this perception.

The Clarion Call A prime element calling for adjustment is the need to commence the engineered metamorphosis of transforming the problem of the Digital

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 207

Divide into a worldwide mobilisation of our global genius to use the vast capacity of ICT to build an eminently better world. That world would be one in which most of the hopes and dreams of the United Nations Millennium Programme, a vision which encompasses the dreams of most other initiatives, are accomplished, through a global rebirth of creativity, innovation, faith and joie de vivre in a global 21st Century Renaissance. For, as I have said in the past, there comes a time in the lives of a people, when no matter how embattled or handicapped, they must find the courage and the will to take their destiny in their own hands. And armed with their resources, no matter how limited, strike out with courage, hope, faith and enormous passion and genius, to create the future of their wildest dreams, with the help of friends, if possible, alone if inevitable. This passion, this courage, this right and responsibility of shaping a desired future, this opportunity of masterminding our tomorrow, this unique opportunity to enrich our today and to leave an indelible legacy to enrich the lives of those who succeed us, this is the singular strategic human and social resource we need to bridge the Digital Divide. This clarion call to the trenches, must engender the enthusiasm and zeal of a Renaissance, not the misery and weary-laden boredom of indifference, hopelessness and disillusionment, which have been major, even if inadvertent, by-products of the relentless drumbeat of impoverishment, disadvantage and incapacity which, in turn, only undermines the confidence and capacity of Africans and others in the developing world to dream. The train of development of ICT capacity in Africa and the rest of the developing world must be out of the station. Those who wish to make a difference and preserve the right and opportunity to enjoy the benefits and accolades of promising accomplishments, must be on board.2

Building the Digital Bridge

To symbolise this paradigm shift from problem embrace to problem solving, I have chosen to proffer the concept of “Building the Digital

208 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Bridge” to replace that of “Bridging the Digital Divide” as the proper proactive vision. I will, therefore, devote the rest of this presentation to the challenges, opportunities and strategies for building the Digital Bridge, allowing each society to choose the gap, river or gorge over which to build it. The Challenges Contrary to common wisdom and therefore to the assumptions which we take into the exercise, the challenges we face in trying to build the Digital Bridge fall into many categories, most of which are neither financial nor technological. In fact, they are primarily philosophical, ideological, cultural, intellectual and conceptual. Let us look at a few of them. Amongst the assumptions we take to be axiomatic but which are at best debatable, are the following:
1. The Cinderella Syndrome

In talking about ICT and development in the Third World, we almost automatically focus on pilot or experimental initiatives and couch this inefficacious notion under the guise of the need to be “realistic”, “to crawl before you can walk”, or other reasonable facsimiles. The notion is that big initiatives are ambitious or presumptuous and guaranteed to fail. The question is: On what evidentiary basis do we assume that small initiatives have an inherent capacity for success, as opposed to big and bold initiatives, just because they are small? Some problems are simply big. This includes Africa’s development problems. Big problems sometimes demand big solutions. In fact, it is the very enormity of big problems, which ignites the genius of the bold and innovative, and sets the necessary psychological stimulus and environment for a relentless effort to overcome them. This is what gets the juices of incurable problemsolvers flowing. I know, because I am one of them. It is, therefore, my humble submission that one reason we have not made the progress we need to make in building the Digital Bridge is that we are totally mired

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 209

in a plethora of small initiatives which, though they give us comfort, have no prospect of reasonable impact without the bold efforts that must first be made.
2. What Jack Can Do, Jack Can Do

Why do we presume that Africans lack the same ambition, genius and dream for innovation that their western counterparts have and with which they have built their own societies? How realistic was Bill Gates’ dream to build Microsoft? How realistic was the dream to create the Internet? These are some of the major innovations that have created the core of ICT. If Africa and the rest of the developing world are to enter the fraternity of the mastery of ICT for social and economic transformation, they must, first and foremost, break out of the bondage of constrained dreams, possibilities and expectations, to unleash their genius and passion for the transformation of their own societies and our common world at large.
3. The Vortex of SMEs

Correspondingly, virtually all the initiatives in place, with regard to ICT and development, focus on small and medium enterprises with an almost visceral disdain for major, especially industrial, initiatives. This is strategically and conceptually flawed because, by definition, SMEs are satellite operations, which dance around core industrial enterprises. So, without building core ICT industries in Africa and the developing world, SMEs are unsustainable. They merely rotate frenetically around a vortex which will ultimately swallow them up, gulping an enormous amount of scarce resources, hope and expectations in the process.
4. Bureaucracy and Innovation: Water and Oil

We are entrenching the management and prosecution of ICT in development with bureaucracies, whether of government, international organisations or corporations. This is an intellectual oxymoron. The quintessence of bureaucracy is to maintain the status quo by preventing change, surprise and magic. There is hardly a single significant ICT

210 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development innovation from the industrial world, which is the product of a bureaucracy. And yet when we talk about bridging the digital divide, we run the full gamut of bureaucratic intervention from donor to recipient, literarily freezing out residual creative value.
5. Systemic Exclusion of Genius

Most importantly in this regard, genius, the enabling capacity for innovation, tends to function best outside the system, outside bureaucracies and sometimes outside the most logical; hence, the validity of the old concept of the “mad scientist” to whom we owe most of our current development capacities. It is my submission that we are, in fact, by the very manner in which we are prosecuting our intervention in ICT for development, excluding the very genius that we need in order to make the critical difference. We should remember that quantum transformation is not an normal or routine process, but one of the exceptional. Africa, and for that matter, most developing nations, may not need more than a mere handful of significant innovations to drive the massive transformation of their economies and societies to the desired high quality existence.
6. The Narrow and Dysfunctional Definition of Wealth and Poverty: The Primacy of Africa’s Global ICT Intellectual Wealth and Capacity

There is a flawed asymmetry in our emphasis on material resource and, at the risk of being misinterpreted, even stability, as necessary or ideal requirements for quantum development. The most important ingredient for ICT for development is intellectual capacity and the knowledge that goes with it. So stated, the assumption of Africa’s merely insipient capacity for driving quantum ICT development becomes questionable. The problem is that we have not tried to quantify and qualify Africa’s global ICT expertise (both male and female) as a strategic tool for driving the continent’s development and transformation. It is for this reason that at the Telecom Africa Corporation, we have sought to undertake a Global Human Resource Survey of African Male and Female Expertise in

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 211

ICT as a key element in our strategic toolkit for building Africa’s global competitiveness in the sector.
7. Regulators for Whom?

It has come to be presumed to be axiomatic that the role of regulators in the sector is to facilitate easy access to the markets of the developing world for large global corporations. Besides the fact that this has no historical precedence in the developed world, it has no inherent logic or validity. The first responsibility of any regulator is to mastermind the local development of the ICT sector using its regulatory powers and resources (such as spectrum) to empower the growth of indigenous capacity in the sector. Such empowerment then makes local sector players attractive to global players as partners without whom they cannot access these markets. That was always the American paradigm in which the sector was inaccessible to foreigners for a long time, or in the Middle-East oil countries where this is a basic partnership paradigm. It is this indigenous capacity which becomes the foundation, down the road, of that nation’s competitive capacity in the global context, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of all our efforts at bridging the Digital Divide, or is it not?
8. Recognising the Digital Bridge When We Cross It

It is more than a bit of intellectual curiosity that we talk so much about bridging the digital divide, but we never define what the bridge looks like. How then do we know what we are looking for or recognise it when we find it? It is like going to the airport and asking for the next flight to anywhere. We end up nowhere of any significance. And should we get there by accident, we will continue to search because we failed to define what we were looking for in the first place. It is, therefore, important to us, a priori, to attempt to define, no matter how utopian in scope, this bridge we seek to throw across the river, like Aenid’s Julius Caesar of old. Without a fully defined destination, it is difficult to derive or ascribe value to our journey. Tomorrow does not just happen; it is created. And

212 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development if we take the trouble to define our desired tomorrow on the basis of our most treasured dreams and expectations, we will find that not everyone wants the same tomorrow, or that their tomorrow be a sullen imitation or replica of our own checkered yesterday. This is particularly critical in our electronic age.3
9. Conditionalities Which Effectively Inhibit Development

It has always been my belief that when in doubt about what is good for others, simply interpose what is good for you. On this basis, much of what is said to be necessary before there can be ICT (or other) development in Africa, while good capacities in themselves, hold no precedence as incentives for investment or development. Never in the history of human development have so many requirements been placed on a people in dire need of self-development. Nobody ever required a particular type of Government or leader in the U.S. or Europe, or, more pertinently, in the People’s Republic of China, as a condition for investing or engaging in business in these countries. The concerns that drive investment and development are not necessarily the same as those of good governance or excellent civic leadership. This is not to suggest that Africa does not need to entrench good governance and accountability for its own human and social benefit and internal strength. But any casual study of the long grocery list of pre-requisite conditions for investment in Africa will reveal a striking semblance to the characteristics of Utopia, which by definition, are unattainable. On the other hand, one can argue that economic development, and that which ICT development can greatly advance, will, in fact, reduce the stress and anxieties which inevitably create an environment fertile for conflict and political instability. Sometimes, the brandishing of this long list of conditionalities becomes little more than a faint excuse for avoiding or postponing a commitment to assist in the development process. Africa’s recognition of this is important for finding the courage for selfdevelopment and competitive capacity building. Social, political and economic development goes hand in hand, not in tandem.

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 213 10. From Handicapping Pessimism to Empowering Optimism

From a psychological point of view, it is difficult to understand why we do not see that the constant badgering of Africans, even by their most ardent well-wishers, with the worst case scenario statistics of a lack of capacity and the long list of failed or unfulfilled dreams, cannot but totally depress and incapacitate Africans. People cannot dream about a better tomorrow if constantly confronted with an emblazoned litany of woes from a painful yesterday, especially by those who, or whose ancestors, played a not insignificant role in creating yesterday’s nightmare! While many may require this relentless recitation as a studied prerequisite for justifying support, it often has the effect of acting like spraying a room of hungry people with debilitating vapor in advance of bringing them food.

Ownership of the Challenge of the Digital Divide

Perhaps the most important of what I consider our strategic flaws in seeking to build the Digital Bridge, is the fact that those who seek to help, first and foremost, take inappropriate ownership of the problem, leaving the stakeholders, those whose lives we seek to improve, irrelevant and destitute of the right and responsibility to mastermind and shape their own destiny. The result is that we run the risk of carrying on so gallantly with a massive Big Band Parade of commitment to transform peoples’ lives while they themselves resign themselves to stroll or sleepwalk down the alleyways of our digital highway, mere bystanders and observers of the alien evolution of their own future. This is not meant to be unkind at all. On the contrary, I have arrived at this notion as a result of a strenuous effort on my part to address the issue of the risk of frustration on the part of those, like all of us here, who have devoted so much time, energy, resource and genius, in my case much of my adult life and a fair bit of my informed youth, trying to help achieve Africa’s development. It is my submission that, like it or not, and

214 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development whatever their weaknesses might be, the only paradigm of development that has efficacy, especially with regard to ICT, is that in which a stakeholder takes the driver’s seat from the word go. It is simply axiomatic, and incontrovertibly so, that one does not learn to drive by sitting in the passenger seat. In saying this, a memory long-forgotten, jumps to mind. In the 1960s and early 1970s, in the United States, there was a ubiquitous advertising jingle, which said, “Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us”. The bankruptcy of this paradigm, one more representative of our approach to African development than one would think, is attested to by the fact that the Greyhound Bus Company’s African initiative, such as in Nigeria, quickly collapsed. I have discussed this issue more extensively elsewhere, and in the introduction to this volume.4

Building the Digital Bridge

After having raised all these problems, what do I offer as solutions other than to plead that I have run out of time and would have loved to oblige? Actually, in response to my brief for this presentation, what has my own company, Telecom Africa Corporation, as a lead strategic African private sector institution, created for the precise objective of helping drive Africa’s relentless search for global competitive capacity in ICT, done or is trying to do to effect a coherent and efficacious model of an ideal strategy for global partnerships to transform Africa in and with ICT capacity? A few examples will suffice.
1. Industrialisation

The Telecom Africa Corporation, from its inception, has sought to persuade Africa and the global support environment, of the importance of building industrial capacity in ICT in Africa, as the key to building the

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 215

Digital Bridge. This not only creates a basic indigenous science and technology capacity in situ, but offers the only way to effect affordability through local manufacture. Specifically, Telecom Africa continues to explore partnerships for industrial projects in Africa. It is working with on prospects of manufacturing optical fibre equipment and cables in Africa, most probably in Namibia. Telecom Africa is also in discussions with China’s leading mobile telecommunications manufacturer, for similar efforts with respect to mobile communications equipment and handsets. We need to make handsets cheaper in order for Africans to afford them, creating the large market we need from the economies of scale.
2. Research and Development

Science and Technology have no staying power without the backstop of a robust research and development capacity. We need to customise our solutions to our specific environment. We need to create intellectual property, the main ingredient in ICT capacity. Telecom Africa continues to search for those leading companies in ICT which will have the “generosity” and courage to partner with us in setting up active research and development laboratories in Africa. This is a commercially attractive and strategic opportunity, not an altruistic pastime. In respect of this, and to mobilise Africa’s global intellectual resource in ICT, we are setting up the Telecom Africa Virtual Research Laboratory, with the promise of technical support from UNESCO.
3. Global Human Resource Survey of African Male and Female Expertise in ICT

I have referred to the primacy of undertaking this study. Without knowing what and whom you have to work with, you cannot begin to design the Bridge we all want to build. This is an area in which the ITU, the UN ICT Task Force, UNDP, foundations and other institutions can be eminently and beneficially helpful.

216 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
4. The Telecom Africa Continental Telecommunications Network

For purposes of continental integration as well as for compelling ICT capacity building, we must eliminate the costly practice of transmitting intra-African traffic through overseas hubs. Telecom Africa has designed a satellite-based continental network, the Telecom Africa Continental Telecommunications Network, to deliver direct access between countries for voice, data, Internet and multi-media capacity. This offers a unique opportunity for profitable partnership and investment.
5. The Digital Factory

The Telecom Africa Corporation, in partnership with Sun Microsystems and the State of California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency, is embarking on creating the Digital Factory, a project to create high-level software development capacity in Africa along the same lines as the Indian model. That model, incubated primarily in Bangalore but now spread throughout the sub-continent, has seen India become a major global player in the software development market. Designed as a public/private initiative, the Digital Factory is expected to service not only the African market, but also the global market, through outsourcing and sub-contracting from major software companies, global institutions, corporations, governments, and international agencies and organisations. Details of these and other initiatives of the Telecom Africa Corporation are available from or

A New Partnership Model

Partnerships are the critical vehicles for building our Digital Bridge. In this regard, Africa should not seek partnerships just for partnerships’ sake. The precise kind of partnership, its configuration, the benefits it accrues to Africa, not only in the short-term but also in the

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 217

long-term, not only tactically but also strategically, is very important. Without this carefully thought-out approach, ill-formulated partnerships, especially those that position the Western private sector merely to reap the commercial benefits of the market opportunities inherent in Africa’s ICT demand, as identified by African Governments individually or as a whole (such as, for example, under the aegis of NEPAD’s e-Africa Commission), without reciprocal benefit and capacity-building, would simply have the effect of destroying Africa’s nascent ICT private sector. It is precisely such an eventuality that would result in condemning Africa permanently to ICT dependence, and deprive the people of the enabling opportunities of using ICT capacity to create the wealth and resources to kiss economic embattlement goodbye once and for all. For this reason, at the Telecom Africa Corporation, we believe that Africa’s strategy should not be so much to build a partnership between African governments and the Western private sector, but rather for African governments to empower the African private sector, through an internal African public-private partnership. This, in turn, would then enable the African private sector companies to mastermind an effective private-private partnership with their global counterparts. The empowerment that this creates, is what will ultimately build Africa’s global competitive capacity. In this regard, the words of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, in a special luncheon in his honour at the United Nations, in June, 2002, become most significant and efficacious. “I want to empower my people,” he said, “so that they can form good partnerships with the Western private sector.” Internal, Regional and South-South Partnerships As important as global partnerships are to the building of our Digital Bridge, internal and regional partnerships, including South-South partnerships, are also critical, both for empowerment through strength in numbers, and shared experiences and practices, as well as for expanding the foundation for global competitive capacity-building.

218 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The World Economic Forum CEO Charter

The recently launched World Economic Forum CEO Charter has the unique advantage that it is driven by CEOs, once themselves incurable dreamers, who know what it is to want to make a major impact, and who believe in taking on big problems with passion. Some of the most important help the Telecom Africa Corporation has received from global corporations like Nortel, IBM, Siemens, the Aerospace Corporation amongst others, even if only in our conceptual phase, has been the recognition of the enormity of our the Telecom Africa Vision, and the confirmation of the possibility of its realisation. This is what Africa badly needs. My prescription for the success of the CEO Charter is to create a Mentorship Programme whereby each CEO adopts an African entrepreneur, and grooms him or her over several years, to re-create a facsimile of his or her own dream. Essentially, if one hundred, or even fifty, CEOs adopt an equal number of African entrepreneurs and chaperon them through the labyrinth of entrepreneurial and corporate development, serving as mentors, quick reference points, and, most important, points of last reference before succumbing to the not infrequent pressure to throw in the towel just when things might just be about to turn the corner, we would have twenty five to fifty core ICT industrial institutions in Africa allowing for fifty percent success. It is these major African corporations, then, which will trigger other such corporations and stimulate and sustain numerous small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a response to creating the products, services and capacities to service their demand. In a less than ten-year period, with one to two hundred major corporations in Africa with global competitive capacity, the notion of assisting African development would become history, replaced by a more refreshing dialogue on how to share the opportunities of the global market more equitably. That is our dream at the Telecom Africa Corporation. In the process of such mentoring, the corporations of the CEOs will have a lot to gain not only through the vicarious invigoration which comes from new ideas and enthusiasm, but through working

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 219

partnerships with companies with lower overheads with which they could more profitably compete for global opportunities. This is the formula for both a win-win situation, and a respectable and eminent partnership for development in what I call: “Building the Digital Bridge across the Information and Communications Divide”. Telecom Africa has set out on this mentorship path as well. There are many such visionary initiatives by Africans and other developing world people, which offer tremendous opportunities for partnerships and investment.

The Shape of My Dream Digital Bridge I had maintained at the outset that we must define our dreamland so that we can recognise it when we get there. What then will the Digital Bridge look like? We would have achieved our dream of building the Digital Bridge when we have a situation in Africa and the Developing World in which the empowering capacity created by ICT would be so common place that ICT itself would disappear from our everyday consciousness, joining the backdrop that is the proper home for enabling facilities; what we commonly call utilities. We would have infused our educational, administrative, creative, strategic, even social environment with the benefits of ICT capacity, while preserving the primacy of our culture from the potential threat inherent in any inadvertent mistake of allowing ICT itself become a culture, one which can compete with our human culture with devastating consequences.

Our Ultimate Goal

If our ultimate goal is for Africa and the rest of the Developing World to develop their capacity to become globally competitive, which

220 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development means getting a fair share of what is currently controlled by the industrial world, logic suggests that at some point we must break away from the tutelage of the industrial world in order to build the smart capabilities to compete with it. At some point, when we believe we are ready to sink or swim, we will be compelled to kiss our helpers goodbye with affection, and say, “thanks, love you, see you on the global field of competition”. It is the logic of history, and a major tenet of African cultural tradition, that if we do our job of teaching and training well, that is, of mentoring, those who come after us must transcend us. If they do not, then we have not done our job; we have not taught them well. The industrial world must therefore allow, at least psychologically, for the slightest possibility that Africans might one day develop the scientific and technological capacity to compete effectively against the world’s most powerful conglomerates. In a knowledge-based global environment, what it takes to do so is knowledge, information, intellectual capacity, access, opportunity and a level playing field, not legacy capabilities, entrenched economic and media dominance, political power and military might. Africa’s potential in this regard is enormous, given the already large numbers of leading-edge African ICT experts spread throughout the world. The Essential Principles of Globalisation In the event of such a desirable eventuality, in this future dispensation, we must modify the rules of global trade to include what at the Telecom Africa Corporation, we have chosen to call “The Essential Principles of Globalisation”. Simply put, it is my fundamental belief that: Trade amongst nations must be: 1. Fair and Equitable; 2. Involve mutual access to each other’s market; and 3. Enhance global competitive capacity, in the absence of which, it must

Building the Digital Bridge ✦ Okpaku ✦ 221

4. Promote the development of such global competitive capacity through dedicated Affirmative Action programmes built into trade agreements.

Conclusion Finally, from all I have said, one might ask: Have we accomplished anything at all in all our collective efforts at promoting ICT development in Africa and the rest of the Developing World? Eminently so. We are today, quite a long way from where we were when we started to talk about the need to bridge the Digital Divide. We can take heart in the knowledge that we have done much, even though we have a long way to go. We must now change tune and shift our gears to the proactive mode of Building the Digital Bridge together. For those who might have wondered if I would conclude that we have been wasting our time, how could I say so when I have been an integral part of this global effort? I thank you for your intellectual indulgence.


1. On June 17–18, 2002, the United Nations held a Special Meeting on Information and Communications Technologies for Development as part of the 101st Plenary of the 56th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which also included two concurrent Informal Panels. This chapter was an Address to Informal Panel 2: The Role of the United Nations in Supporting Efforts to Promote Digital Opportunity, on June 17, 2002. 2. There are lyrics from the Negro Spirituals of the African-American heritage, which capture this compelling clarion call. 3. See Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., E-Culture, Human Culture and In-between: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century Digital World, ITU Conference on Creating New Leaders for e-Culture, Coventry, UK, August 20–24, 2001. 4. See Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., Ownership of Problems, Intellectual Property and the Digital Divide—The Enabling Challenge of Solutions, WIPO Second International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property, Geneva, September 19–21, 2001.



Dr. Akhtar Badshah and Justin Thumler1

Digital Bridge to Africa— The Digital Diaspora Network for Africa (DDN-A)
Skyrocketing demand for information and communications technology personnel makes top scientists and technologists globally mobile. When they come from developing countries, their global dispersal creates Diaspora that can become valuable networks of finance, business contacts and skill transfer for their home country. — U N D P H U M A N D E V E L O P M E N T R E P O R T 2 0 01

The Digital Diaspora Network for Africa (DDN-A) is an initiative designed to tap the value of Diaspora communities in service to Africa. DDN-A also addresses the bigger challenge implied: The best and the brightest from developing countries are being drawn away by greater opportunities, perpetuating a systemic imbalance in favour of the prosperous to the detriment of their indigenous societies and communities. 223

224 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The trend is not likely to end in the foreseeable future—let alone reverse. DDN-A is a collaborative effort among the United Nations ICT Task Force, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), The United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), Digital Partners, and Gruppo CERFE, which promotes development in Africa by mobilising the technological, entrepreneurial and professional expertise and resources of the African Diaspora. Since vital expertise is unlikely to “go back,” DDN-A is to serve as an effective and efficient means to “give back.”

The Challenge

Given the speed with which Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are developing and the breadth of their socio-economic impact, it is imperative that some means be developed now if Africa is not to be excluded from the technological revolution. The use of ICT has been integrated into virtually every aspect of commerce, education, governance and civic activity in developed countries and has become a critical factor in gaining access to information and wealth worldwide. Yet in Africa, ICT has barely taken a foothold. Inadequate computer literacy and the lack of access to ICT are widely recognised as an increasingly daunting obstacle to the economic, civic and political development of Africa. Many potential ICT entrepreneurs in Africa are limited in their actions by a lack of information about opportunities, potential partners, institutional contacts and resources. On the other hand, many Africans in the United States, and many others who feel committed to the development of Africa, have important skills and access to a wealth of human and material resources but perceive few avenues to apply them to benefit sub-Saharan Africa.

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 225

The Opportunity Many Africans in the United States and abroad, and many others who feel committed to the development of Africa have important skills and wealth in terms of human and material resources that could effectively address Africa’s challenges. Nevertheless, few avenues exist to apply these resources to the benefit of sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, many potential ICT entrepreneurs in Africa could benefit from increased opportunities to meet and work with counterparts living outside of Africa. According to Zachary2, Diaspora networks can be an effective mechanism for promoting economic development by: • Creating a new mode of foreign assistance and investment: economic stimulus through self-organising Diaspora networks, spawned by civil society and the private sector but legitimised and sustained by government and multilateral institutions; • Altering the terms of trade in human talent, by encouraging “brain circulation” in addition to brain drain; • Strengthening support in rich countries for continued and deepened ties between ethnic communities in these countries and their countries of origin as a matter, not only of human rights, but of economic and political significance; • Creating recognition within developing countries that overseas communities deserve political, economic and social means to maintain their links with their home country including support by their home society and government for ongoing, albeit episodic involvement of nationals who chiefly reside outside of the country; and • Helping the Diaspora to play a more effective role in leveling the growing imbalance of power between wealthy and poor nations. Zachary further notes that “political and social policies aimed at harnessing or managing Diaspora communities are in their infancy. There

226 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development are no multilateral agencies or international treaties concerned with the peaceful, voluntary movement of people across borders, and the subsequent transnational associations arising from these movements.”

A New Model for Development

The benefits of traditional top-down development mechanisms are often lost in the complexities of government and corporate interests. DDN-A offers a new model of development based on engaging the motivations and interests of Individuals rather than institutions. Over 350 individuals from the worldwide Africa Diaspora joined DDN-A after its inaugural meeting at the United Nations in July of 2002. These individuals have corporate, academic and government interests, which they will inevitably bring to bear as the Network continues to develop programs and projects for Africa that are of interest to them. Brought together with the growing number of organisations, corporations, foundations and academics promoting the application of ICT to assist Africa’s development, members of DDN-A can provide a rich source of ideas, skills and support for promoting digital opportunity in Africa. As the Digital Diaspora Network for Africa (DDN-A) continues to reach out to Africa’s scattered community in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and elsewhere, it will serve to facilitate the exchange of ideas and information to help ICT entrepreneurs create opportunities and find the partners and resources they need to make use of them. The development of the Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) is instructive in terms of what is possible for Africa. TiE was started in 1992 as a small Indian-ethnic organisation of people eager to contribute to the cause of entrepreneurship among the Indus people in the Silicon Valley. TiE now has over 8000 members in 40 chapters worldwide and hundreds of successful TiE-inspired startups, many directly benefiting India’s economy. Most inspiring to the concept of the Digital Diaspora Network for Africa is the fact that TiE has now assumed a broader role for itself to foster socio-economic development globally.

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 227

In many ways, DDN-A seeks to start where TiE took 10 years to arrive: where economic development is not disengaged from social development; and where entrepreneurs in the US, Europe and Africa create a network interested—for whatever reasons, be it business, cultural, personal, or otherwise—in a broader goal of supporting development activities in their home countries and are willing to commit time and resources in support of such development activities.

Mechanisms for Impact A development model based on the use of ICT and the engaged interests of individuals is new. The intermediary institutions, the projectdevelopment methodologies, the funding mechanisms and the myriad of other development basics that evolved during the Industrial Age have not been updated to reflect the opportunities and challenges of the Information Age. DDN-A developed three programs designed to address critical elements necessary to activate the potential of the African Diaspora in service to Africa. Networking and Coalition Building
Digital Bridge Africa is an annual workshop that seeks to enhance the

bridge linking ICT activities in North America and Europe with emerging activities in Africa, thereby enhancing entrepreneurship and development. Its general focus is on two main components: • Capacity—developing the entrepreneurial and technical capabilities within Africa, and • Capital—developing financial resources focused on ICTs in Africa. The workshop particularly emphasises the role of social entrepreneurs who are using ICTs to open new avenues in markets, e-commerce, and information sharing, and explores models that are profit-making and financially sustainable.

228 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The workshops bring together five groups that are critical to advancing ICTs for entrepreneurship and development. These are: 1. Leaders with practical experiences in working for the empowerment of the world’s needy, including representatives of such people’s organisations, and social and economic entrepreneurs; 2. Leaders among the donor community and international organisations experienced in implementing projects and generating resources on a large scale, including managers of global programs and foundations, multilateral institutions, and local underwriters of venture capital; 3. IT entrepreneurs and individuals with technical skills, such as innovators in the corporate sector, promoters of digital technology and e-commerce in African communities, Internet start-ups and incubators from local communities; 4. Government officials at all levels; and 5. Academics and scholars who are studying the practice and promise of ICTs for entrepreneurship and development. A goal of the meetings is to link local entrepreneurs with technology and business mentors, explore potential synergies to companies and activities abroad, and develop options for financing and investment. These workshops lay the groundwork for larger meetings that will bring together some of the world’s largest social venture capitalists and industrialists to focus on issues of ICT and entrepreneurship in Africa.


The Social Venture Fund for Africa was launched by Digital Partners to

provide financial support for entrepreneurial projects developed or supported by DDN-A following the first Digital Bridge to Africa workshop. Participants at the first Digital Bridge Africa workshop set a goal

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 229

of USD 500,000. While started with modest initial aims, the fund is designed to grow into a collaborative effort supported by individuals, foundations, development agencies and corporations. The workshops and meetings will serve to support the development of a large social Venture Capital fund targeted at African ICTs. Modeled on Digital Partners’ Social Venture Fund for South Asia, the Social Venture Fund for Africa is an innovative financing structure developed to provide “seed capital” for initiatives providing modest financial returns with high social dividends. Building upon the current practices in “venture philanthropy,” the Social Venture Fund provides support for pioneering non-profit organisations and for-profit businesses capable of fostering commercial markets serving the poor. Individuals, corporations, foundations or development organisations that invest in the fund get a tax write-off; Digital Partners pools the donations to invest or provide long-term loans or grants. Returns from the investment or loans are re-invested to support other projects, further leveraging each dollar contributed into the Social Venture Fund. Digital Partners’ model meets an as yet un-bridged gap between traditional venture capital funds, other social funds, and traditional foundation grants and investments. It provides a structure for social and IT entrepreneurs to learn from each other and to incubate outsidethe-box solutions to the unmet needs of the poor. The fund particularly supports innovations that have profit potential but need financial support and incubation to get them to the point where they can seek more traditional forms of market support. Project Development The Social Enterprise Laboratory™ (SEL) is a process developed by Digital Partners to bring ICT and market-development experts together with poverty-alleviation experts to create new social enterprises and promote a new generation of IT-empowered social entrepreneurs. The Laboratory is a comprehensive package of services catering to international social entrepreneurs to increase their skills and provide

230 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development them access to opportunities to raise funds for their IT-enhanced social enterprises. A significant component of the laboratory is the Mentoring Program. It includes the hands-on participation and assistance of business executives, venture capitalists, industry professionals and graduatestudent teams from leading US and developing country graduate programs in business and IT.3 In addition to supporting individual entrepreneurs and organisations through the Mentoring Program, the Social Enterprise Laboratory™ also works to increase the local capacity to provide on-going assistance to the SEL entrepreneurs and to serve as a foundation for generating increased social entrepreneurism. The goal of the Social Enterprise Laboratory is to catalyse the potential of IT-empowered entrepreneurs in developing economies: • Those who seek to serve markets at the bottom of the economic pyramid; • Those whose vision and business models could help achieve connectivity for the rural poor; and • Those who creatively use Information and Communications Technology as a tool for empowerment. Projects developed through SEL have come from South Asia, Latin America and Africa. The SEL Process
Identification of Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises

The SEL application process is open and web-based. To help target high-quality applicants, the Digital Partners’ worldwide network of individuals and partner organisations is engaged to solicit requests for proposals utilising ICT in social enterprises. Once a proposal is received, it is immediately reviewed to ensure that all relevant background information has been provided and that it meets specific minimum

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 231

requirements. Additional information is requested as needed and background research conducted in preparation for presentation to the selection committee. The committee for African projects consists of seasoned ICT and business veterans and experts from the development field who are part of DDN-A. They individually review each project to select the enterprises based on the following criteria: • IT-Driven—Innovative use of information technology must be an integral component of the business or project model. • Quality of the Management Team—The management team should demonstrate the expertise and commitment necessary to enhance the concept’s chance of success. • Market-Based for Sustainability—The concept must show the potential to generate a market-based revenue stream (must have a demonstrable revenue-based business model) to ensure sustainability. • Scalable/Replicable—The concept must show promise to be broadly scaled or widely replicated to serve much larger constituencies. • Bottom-up—The concept should be initiated and benefit those at the grassroots level to assure that real needs are being met with customised solutions. • Partnerships—The concept should show the potential to foster public, private, and/or civil society collaborations beneficial in increasing its impact and building capacity to support similar efforts. Consideration is also given to those enterprises that Digital Partners feels it can best help, given the needs of each enterprise and the resources (such as DDN-A members and student teams) it is able to draw on. The bottom line of the entire selection process is to find the diamonds in the rough—the projects that show promise to lift individuals and whole communities out of poverty and effectively leverage the opportunities provided by ICT and the digital economy to create systemic change at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

232 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Mentoring Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises The selected projects are assigned a team of DDN-A members and graduate students from prestigious universities to assist the social entrepreneurs to: • Effectively incorporate ICT and market mechanisms into their enterprise; • Gain access to potential sources of funding; • Develop funding proposals; • Think through their business model, such as their business strategy, marketing strategy, and target market; and • Re-write their proposals into business plans capable of convincing potential financial supporters of the project’s viability, impact, and sustainability. The ultimate objective of the mentoring process is to develop highquality business plans or proposals that are suitable for funding from the Digital Partners’ Social Venture Fund, sponsors of a particular Social Enterprise Laboratory™ foundations, corporations, social investors and other investor forums. Funding of Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises The refined project and business plans are presented again to the selection committee from the DDN-A for possible seed funding. Individual DDN-A members, foundations, and corporate sponsors provide the funds as a tax-deductible donation through Digital Partners’ Social Venture Fund. The financial support provided to the projects is not intended to fully fund the long-term needs of any one project. The Mentoring phase provides the social entrepreneur with a well-crafted proposal or business plan suitable for raising additional resources. Seed capital supplies

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 233

the initial monies needed to at least pilot the project and provide resources while additional funds are sought. Digital Partners helps with introductions to suitable contacts and assistance to the entrepreneurs in their longer-term fundraising efforts. The due diligence provided by SEL is expected to lend credibility to the projects and increase “investor” confidence. Financial support from Digital Partners’ Social Venture Fund is given either as outright grants, long-term low-interest loans or even as equity investments. Currently, the Fund primarily provides grants. It is expected that as more social entrepreneurs enter the field, a larger percentage of loans and investments will be made. All returns will be reinvested to support the development and funding of other projects, further leveraging each dollar donated to the Social Venture Fund. DDN-A Supported Projects in Africa The DDN-A is now taking the lead on all projects being developed and supported in Africa. Examples include the following:
E-Academy, Tanzania

E-Academy will address the high cost and inadequate quality of education in Tanzania via the creation of an on-line e-learning initiative that will make teaching materials developed by the “best brains” in the country available in the local Kiswahili language. E-Academy aims to provide quality, affordable education through e-learning to facilitate greater reach while establishing higher standards and creating Kiswahili content. ‘Best brains’ in their particular fields will be responsible for the development of quality courses in the Kiswahili language. E-Academy also aims to take advantage of the mushrooming of cyber cafes throughout Tanzania to provide Internet connectivity to subscribers of E-Academy, while CD Rom-based education will be available to reach those without an Internet connection. E-Academy requires development of a business/project plan and assistance with its marketing strategy.

234 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Youth for Technology Foundation, Nigeria

YTF’s TechPreneurship Program for Rural Women will equip women who run small businesses with the technology training they need to run their businesses more efficiently while promoting co-existence within religiously heterogeneous communities. The TechPreneurs Program at the Owerri Digital Village attempts to address the failure of womenowned businesses due to lack of knowledge of implementing sustainable business models and lack of access to resources. The TechPreneurs Program will teach participants the technology skills to manage their businesses effectively to enhance the Nigerian woman’s personal status and her contribution to national economic development. Participants in the program will learn to use YTF’s business management software and database application locally developed by YTF youth program members. The application will allow the women entrepreneurs to track their inventory, revenue and expenses for their small and medium businesses. Workshops will be offered on writing successful business plans, microcredit facilities and credit programs. The program will assist women to develop their personal talents, increase their family incomes, meet local market demand, stimulate export demand, and contribute meaningfully to the public life of their communities while harnessing peaceful co-existence within religiously heterogeneous communities. The organisation is looking to refine its business plan.
SATELLIFE and HealthNet Uganda, Uganda

In an area where access to information is a scarce and potentially lifesaving resource, the PDAs and Better Health In Uganda project will improve the decision-making capacity of health professionals by arming them with PDAs that will provide them access to the information they need to make timely diagnoses and provide appropriate treatments. In a country where many health workers do not have access to a telephone, let alone the Internet, information for decision-making is a scarce, potentially life-saving resource. Building on its experience implementing a PDA project in Uganda and Kenya, HealthNet Uganda is poised to

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 235

introduce this technology on a wider scale. PDAs can be used in the most remote locations, have the computing power required for simple but essential functions, are easily customisable to meet the particular needs of individuals and institutions, and can hold large quantities of timely, relevant, and appropriate content and facilitate rapid data collection and analysis. SATELLIFE and HealthNet Uganda have a competitive advantage in the introduction of PDAs because of their understanding of the real data and information needs of health professionals and their ability to work with the government, universities, NGOs, and private practitioners. In addition to project design, technical support and training, SATELLIFE provides a powerful combination of content, including country-specific clinical guidelines for malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/ AIDS, the World Health Organisation Essential Drug List, a countryspecific essential drug list, a multi-functional medical calculator, medical references, customised local content, and customised survey instruments. The project partners hope that this activity will not only improve HealthNet Uganda’s potential for sustainability, but also stimulate the PDA market for the private sector. HealthNet Uganda seeks help making the transition to a sustainable enterprise that weds its humanitarian mission with sound business practices and may include development of a business plan. Matching Skills with Need Taking full advantage of the Internet to virtually eliminate location as a constraint in matching ability and resources to need, AfriShare is envisioned as a web-based platform to serve as a tool for collaboration and a knowledge-sharing facility. The implementation strategy is to respond to the needs and capacity of DDN-A as the network develops. Previous web-based efforts have taken a “build it and they will come” approach and have had limited impact in their effort to be all things for all users. A skills and interests database of DDN-A participants and password-protected sites for enterprise development were the initial

236 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development components identified by the membership as the first capacities to be developed. DDN-A in Action The true value and impact of DDN-A will eventually be told by the web of connections and projects that will organically develop through the personal interests and connections of its members. Early examples of members acting on their own initiative to mobilise partnerships for Africa demonstrate the potential of DDN-A as an individual-centred development force: • Within weeks of the launch of DDN-A, members working with GE Capital, arranged to have high quality used computers shipped to schools in Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Other members working with Microsoft Africa secured free software. • Commitments were also made to link the schools in Africa with schools in the US through Global Classmates, a collaborative learning platform developed by Digital Partners. • Members also self-selected to serve as mentors for projects chosen for support by DDN-A through the Social Enterprise Laboratory process. Other members decided to serve on a Steering Committee to ensure that DDN-A maintained its momentum beyond the initial enthusiasm of its launch. • A larger Advisory Committee was also established to take on broader roles and responsibilities. The committee identified presence in Africa as critical for the effectiveness of DDN-A. Individual champions within the network took the lead to establish Digital Partners/Ghana and Digital Partners/Nigeria to support the on-the-ground activities of DDN-A in these countries and in the region. • A Digital Bridge Africa workshop is scheduled to be held in May 2003, in Ghana, with key partners to develop an action plan for DDN-A in assisting the effective development of ICT in Africa and lay the groundwork for its presence throughout Africa.

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 237

The Collaborative Partners of DDN-A

For an effort of the scope and range of the Digital Diaspora Network for Africa to be successful, it requires the support of several key partners and organisations. DDN-A was launched with a clear vision and leadership provided by the United Nations ICT Task Force that was convinced that without the active participation of professionals from Africa itself, no projects undertaken will take root and become successful. With that in mind, the United Nations ICT Task Force mobilised an effort to create and launch DDN-A by establishing a collaborative framework among other UN agencies, such as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Fund for International Partnership. The objective was to expand the efforts of the individual organisations in order to have a much larger impact. Digital Partners mobilised the effort and modeled DDN-A on its successful South Asia effort in North America, whereas Gruppo CERFE was instrumental in launching DDN-E (Europe).
UN ICT Task Force

The UN ICT Task Force was established to provide overall leadership to the United Nations role in helping to formulate strategies for the development of information and communications technologies and putting those technologies at the service of development. The Task Force focuses on forging a strategic partnership between the United Nations system, private industry and financing trusts and foundations, donors, programme countries and other relevant stakeholders in accordance with relevant United Nations resolutions through its various Regional Networks and Working Groups.

The United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) promotes women’s empowerment and gender equality. Since its creation, UNIFEM has supported numerous projects and initiatives throughout the developing world that promote the political, economic, and social empowerment of

238 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development women. Recently, UNIFEM launched a new program, “Bridging the Gender Digital Divide in Africa through Strategic Partnerships”. The program seeks to empower African women through innovative uses of Information Communications Technologies (ICT).

The United Nations Fund for International Partnerships promotes new UN partnerships and alliances with a variety of sources, including companies and foundations, as well as bilateral and multilateral donors, in furtherance of the Millennium Development Goals.
Digital Partners Digital Partners is a Seattle-based not-for-profit organisation working on utilising the benefits of the digital economy to benefit the poor all over the world. Digital Partners has already developed a network of IT entrepreneurs in India, and is in the process of developing a similar network of entrepreneurs in Latin America and Africa. Digital Partners provides professional services and financial support to visionary social entrepreneurs interested in effectively utilising ICT to benefit the poor. They have created a venture capital fund model, a social venture fund, to invest in and incubate new initiatives designed by ICT and social entrepreneurs to trigger solutions to problems of poverty. Gruppo CERFE

Gruppo CERFE is an association of European researchers belonging to non-profit institutes, whose purpose is to conduct a scientific research programme on the current situation of human societies around the world. The organisation has specifically been involved in development issues for many years and has supported initiatives such as the development of a network of African Habitat Professionals. The organisation has expertise in research and analysis of the needs and issues of the African Diaspora, specifically in Europe.

Digital Bridge to Africa ✦ Badshah and Thumler ✦ 239

1. David Feige and Deepa Ghosh provided research support for this chapter. David is a Program Officer at Digital Partners and Deepa is a Master of Public Administration Candidate at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. 2. “Diaspora Capitalism and Exile as a Way of Life: Some Observations on the Political and Economic Mobilisation of Dispersed Peoples,” by G. Pascal Zachary, as part of the Nautilus Institute’s “Virtual Diasporas and Global Problem Solving” Initiative, 3. Participating schools in 2002/2003 include Harvard Business School, the University of Washington, the University of California, San Diego, Theses (France) and Thunderbird.


Crocker Snow, Jr.
Special Report for United Nations ICT Task Force

Tip-Toeing across the Digital Divide

African Entrepreneurs Applying, Adapting, and Advancing Appropriate Information Technologies

Roselyn Egosangwa, a middle-aged mother from one of Nairobi’s most

troubled and troublesome slum areas of Korogocho, holds an all too rare job as a sandal maker, hand-crafting the most basic footwear from discarded rubber tires to the sizes, shapes and styles ordered over the Internet by overseas consumers in Australia, Canada, Denmark and other western markets. Yasser Loutfy, technical manager and founding partner of a local Internet Service Provider housed on a bustling market street in Egypt’s Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, struggles to adjust his business model to a new national law providing free Internet linkup and, quite 241

242 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development implausibly, develops a valued and possibly valuable website for the deaf in the process. Meddia Mayanja, an early computer geek at Uganda’s Makerare University in Kampala, works a kind of “bush connectivity” for the purpose of administering an online educational system that currently runs a common curriculum through 15 sites around Uganda that is dedicated to spreading knowledge and creativity simultaneously for a fee. Egosangwa, Loutfy, Mayanja and many more with business, community development or merely survival skills in nations across Africa are hard at it, utilising and channeling one or another form of information technology to their own needs and, quite often, for society’s benefit. Their unique, demand-driven applications are starting to have an effect on the quality of African life in ways that were truly inconceivable a mere five years ago. It is no surprise to discover hard evidence of the information revolution in African national capitals and urban centres. Billboards and signs promoting computer training, store front advertising for an array of cyber cafes and roadside private, for-profit telephone booths are today almost ubiquitous. But well beyond the bright lights of the big cities of the African continent, information technologies are spreading downward and even backward to the grass roots, inspiring whole villages and communities, and positively impacting living conditions. In their widely differing environments and activities, Roselyn Egosangwa, Yasser Loutfy and Meddie Mayanja are at the vanguard of this creeping revolution as they strive to utilise telephony, the Internet and other key outriders of the information revolution to help themselves and, in the process, others. In examining their experiences—and that of their known and unknown counterparts throughout Africa—several common characteristics and conclusions shine through: • Demand drives supply—Where a gaping vacuum exists in areas such as communications, education, health services or jobs, advanced information tools are being wielded by the alert and the inquisitive to address the need and try to fill the void. As a rule, locally conceived,

Tip-Toeing across the Digital Divide ✦ Snow ✦ 243

demand-driven initiatives are working; externally encouraged applications often are not. “Ownership” is essential—Almost universally for the poor and the professionals of Africa alike, the sense of creating, developing and applying information technology strategies themselves—the spirit of the self-motivated—is critical to the drive, dynamism and ultimate success of the undertaking in question. Learning (and adjusting) by doing—As Africa’s entrepreneurs acquire basic computer skills through schools and training programs, their most practical applications are almost always selftaught, on the spot and under pressure. Their ability to be flexible and adjust to conditions encountered in implementing a project (rather than as imagined in the planning stage) is critical to their initiative’s survivability. Small can be desirable—Most IT-facilitated startups begin as a small idea to address a local need or opportunity. When successful, the “bigger is better” syndrome arises. But many African IT entrepreneurs cannot scale up for lack of financing or human capacity. Even those who can are unconvinced. In the words of a successful Egyptian ISP operator, “My company was much more fun and more responsive when we were so small that everyone was one shout away.” Think offline security—Africa’s IT applications mean telephones, cell-phones and computers become coveted items in the context of the continent and magnets for straightforward, offline crime. “Buckle up” safety steps are often required. The money motive matters—If the continent’s IT entrepreneurs have most always been saddled by insufficient funding in the early stages of development, the most realistic and persevering of them see this as a plus. Africa’s IT upstarts discover that donor monies, often critical for their projects at the outset, can be fickle in the long run and can either overwhelm or vanish altogether. Accordingly, the drive to be sustainable and even profitable by developing reliable revenue streams is, for most, essential.

244 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Africa’s IT Entrepreneurs As a prototype then, Africa’s budding class of IT entrepreneurs are young, driven by doing, flexible, single-minded yet not smug, undeterred by setbacks and quite often seeking a higher social purpose. The common threads listed above (and doubtless additional ones) are weaving the fabric of entrepreneurial-driven, IT-facilitated, socially beneficial applications of communications systems throughout the continent. New and quite used information technologies alike are proving to be an effective tool not only for development, but also for productive profiteering as well. The evidence is clear, if not yet abundant, that IT as a tool can be a tool with a heart. Egosangwa, Loutfy, Mayanja and their counterparts are doers more than thinkers. Individually, they engage in the application of computers or telephones or the Internet for their own varied selfish and social reasons without worrying it too much. Their drive comes from within, not without, based on highly individualistic, even existential, motivations. The stories of their trials and tribulations are both wholly unique and generically revealing. TURNING DEVELOPMENT UPSIDE DOWN: Recycling Waste Rubber and Selling Online Provides Jobs and Danger in Kenyan Slum Seven years ago when Internet access was first pioneered in Africa by three Kenyan exchange students at Boston-area universities to create a company now known as Africa Online, a reverse exchange student, an American, was looking, not at online opportunities, but at the hopeless living conditions of Nairobi’s slum area of Korogocho. Mathew Meyer was on a junior year-abroad program from Brown University, studying Swahili and living on the outskirts of one of the city’s most notorious and violent sections to which he was drawn by a new friend and social worker, Benson Wikyo. As a later chronicler of the conception of the company that became known as Akala (“rubber shoe” in Swahili street

Tip-Toeing across the Digital Divide ✦ Snow ✦ 245

slang) Designs put it: “Mathew Meyer was a student who believed something was wrong with our world for people to live this way. Benson Wikyo was a young Kenyan who lived that way.” Dreaming and working together, the two friends landed a $3000 grant from the small Samuel Huntington Foundation in the U.S. to launch a community-based business making rubber sandals from used rubber tires. The enterprise was a struggle from the outset. The material and human resources necessary were available in abundance in the form of discarded tires and workers eager for any job, but footwear techniques, basic equipment like peddle sewing machines or the most rudimentary sales, accounting and management skills were not, and had to be learned or acquired by painful trial and error. Still, Meyer and Wikyo persevered. A few people were engaged as designated “sandal makers” for jobs fetching 150 Kenyan shillings a day ($2.00 US). A few sandals were sold, initially to friends and acquaintances and through international refugee organisations for $2.00 apiece. In 1998, Matt Meyer was back in the US doing graduate studies when cofounder Benson Wikyo died suddenly of a series of treatable medical failings. The project effectively died its first of several deaths. But the continued commitment of the workers, coupled with a second grant for a mere $1500, proved a saving grace. The two inputs prompted Meyer to utilise his college computer skills to try something quite new, designing a website——to promote the rubber sandals online. It was a giant step of faith in broadening the tiny project’s market reach, and the horizons and ambitions of the subsistence economy of the sandal-makers involved. It worked, if to a modest degree. Today the little company is viable by the standards of many in the area. Monthly online orders from western markets of one of the eight sandal designs offered range from 80 to 800. Eight people are employed full-time. Collectively, they can produce about a dozen new sandals a day. Another ten Korogocho dwellers have qualified through a threemonth training program and work on commission as overseas orders ebb and flow. Most of all, there is palpable pride among the workers for their products, their jobs and their demonstrated survival skills.

246 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Egypt’s Newly Legislated “Free-Net” Prompts Fresh Thinking In Alexandria—And A Soundless Approach Yasser Loutfy, 40 years old and entirely educated in Egypt, got his first job at the US Consulate in Alexandria as a communications technician. He learned the field from a practical point of view, sensed the value of the Internet and, four years ago, gave up this secure job to join a partner to establish the city’s second ISP. Glob@lNet was founded in 1999 and within two years had 40 per cent market share of the city’s several hundred thousand Internet users. The future looked reasonably rosy, until a rumored government decision legislating free Internet for all, went into effect on January 14, 2002, and changed things. Suddenly, Loutfy and some 60 other small Internet providers throughout the country, like his friend in Cairo, Jordanian entrepreneur Khaled Bichara, founder of LinkdotNet, saw the base of their businesses undermined. The “all you can eat” flat fee system was abandoned. Dialing in per se no longer mattered from a revenue point of view; holding customers online for minutes or more at a time did. The competing providers were forced to vie for numbers and for content to keep their customers coming and staying. In Cairo, Bichara had the resources to acquire eight different content-driven enterprises, offering everything from job search to life style information. The strategy is working. He is in the process of consolidating under his single LinkdotNet brand name, has managed a major advertising campaign and, in the process, has become the country’s fourth largest ISP while joining the ranks of the established in the eyes of the national press. “It was our only option,” the energised young entrepreneur remarked in an interview. “We had to move very quickly to gain content as a way to keep our subscribers on our system rather than just using it to dial up and go elsewhere. Fortunately, we had some bank financing by this time to do this.” However, Yasser Loutfy in Alexandria had no such option: no available financing nor a sufficiently large market base. He chose a different route, initiating some web-based hosting and page design. In concert with the Chamber of Commerce, Glob@lNet announced “e-Alexandria”,

Tip-Toeing across the Digital Divide ✦ Snow ✦ 247

a weeklong computer online training program based on UNESCO’s Information Communications Driving License (ICDL), for less than $5.00 US. It was oversubscribed. Yes, they got new customers who tended to turn to Loutfy’s ISP first. More important, a number of the city’s deaf people came to the training programs, and they proved to be particularly adept and attentive at the computer. Yasser and his partner were struck by this and looked into it further. They discovered to their surprise that there were several hundred thousand deaf people living in the Alexandria area alone, eager to join the information revolution. The spontaneous market research indicated a new online market where none had been known to exist. Loutfy and his partner decided that only deaf people could know—and provide—what was needed. They hired several and gave them their head. The result is a new website,, set up for and by the city’s deaf people to serve them fully online for their unique interests, needs and concerns. About a dozen of Alexandria’s deaf population are employed to work the site, form the content and act the parts with sign language for CD ROMs. They are excited by the process. Yasser Loutfy, their employee, is unable to communicate with them in sign language. Through an intermediary who can, however, he tells them, in their “staff meeting” shortly after the launch, that their specialised web content is catching on much faster than he expected. “There’s high interest in the site,” he reports. He plans to take out some national promotions to attract more users and has had queries from ISPs in East and North Africa about hyper link connections. They have stumbled onto something that is proving to be needed, wanted and useful, and are producing highly specialised content that is the very definition of sustainable social development. Bush Connectivity In Uganda Comes With Great Risk—And Rewards Meddie Mayanja has been involved in information technologies and the Internet in Uganda since its very inception when he was a graduate

248 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development student at Makerere University. He has studied, worked, and promoted it, if not particularly profited from it. Though not a teacher by training, Mayanja is preoccupied with the inherent educational aspect of the computer and Internet revolutions. Currently he directs a project called SchoolNet, a spin-off of the international enterprise World Link that spreads common curriculum in disparate developing countries. He has been administering 15 sites around the country since the launch of the service in 2001, based on $200 monthly charges for the school systems that sign up. They now count 10,000 Uganda students as having access to online information in a systematic way never available before. “You can see for yourself that this makes a big difference,” he remarks. This is the professional speaking. Mayanja, the philosopher, goes further. “The Internet seems to make facts and concepts much faster and more flexible for the students to absorb. The computer makes things more creative too. Students want to see something new on the screen, and before you know it they have begun to create it themselves.” Can steady online access also create false expectations in countries as underdeveloped as Uganda? Can computers generate a different type of unrealistic “power surge”? “Not all of us will be thinkers,” Mayanja replies. “But I have discovered that access to information is a re-orientation of your mind. Is there anything wrong with that?”

Need-Driven And Market-Based

The tales of the in Nairobi, of in Alexandria, of SchoolNet in Uganda and of the people most centrally challenged and engaged, are presumably mirrored by countless others in African cities and towns, applying the most basic or sophisticated information technologies to run a project, make a business and in the process do some social good.

Tip-Toeing across the Digital Divide ✦ Snow ✦ 249

It becomes important from such a sampling that international donor agencies are ever alert to this and do their very best to foster it. It is equally clear that the entrepreneurial spirit in Africa is alive and well and indeed charged by the opportunities that new technologies can offer. The interest, outside push and experience of multilateral development agencies like the United Nations, associations like the International Telecommunications Union and a variety of Non-Government Organisations can only help fire imaginations and seed projects like these and others. The native talents, energies and experience of people like Roselyn Egosangwa, Yasser Loutfy and Meddie Mayanja utilising new technologies in their own chosen fashion are ultimately what will make the difference and put real life to the abstract concept of ICTs as a true “tool for development”.


Dr. Gillian M. Marcelle

From Technology Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Technological Capabilities
Lessons from African Information and Communications Technologies Firms


This chapter will argue that developing country firms can move from ‘technology transfer’ to strategic acquisition of technological capabilities from external sources. The analysis presented here suggests the processes through which developing country firms can acquire technological capability inputs from external sources when these firms take account of the industry-specific nature of technological change, analyse the endogenous factors that influence their ability to accumulate technological capabilities through relationships with suppliers, and design specific requirements relevant to the industries in which they operate. 251

252 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development It argues that the requirements for service sector firms will differ from those of manufacturing firms. These insights emerge from the application of the technological capability building (TCB) system approach, which was the conceptual framework developed in a study of technological capability accumulation by twenty-six firms in the telecommunications sector of four African countries—Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa.1 In this approach, TCB is understood as a process of assembling or accumulating technological capabilities. It is treated as an investment activity, which is not linear, sequential or orderly and which is not necessarily overly influenced by exogenous or contextual factors. Firms are the unit of analysis, and the processes by which they built TCB systems, defined as a set of integrated processes and mechanisms that are used by firms to build technological capabilities over time, are centre-stage. The conceptual framework suggests that a firm’s TCB system consists of five components, namely: 1. allocation of financial resources; 2. management practices, systems and decision-making rules; 3. practices to establish and maintain facilitating leadership and organisational culture; 4. accessing external technology capability resources from suppliers; and 5. accessing technology capability resources from the innovation system (local and global). This approach further suggests that in an ideal system for TCB, there is a systematic and balanced operation of these five elements. A welldeveloped TCB system is necessary and sufficient to increase the existing stock of technological capabilities in a firm, defined here to include both person-embodied and non-person-embodied capabilities (such as capital equipment, software, and codified knowledge systems). Firms with underdeveloped TCB systems are expected to perform poorly in capability accumulation.

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 253

This framework was applied in the empirical study of capability development by developing country firms, and the research themes explored included the firms’ relationships with external suppliers. The study offers insights into technology acquisition processes of developing country firms, more commonly referred to as technology transfer. The chapter is organised into four sections: a review of the dominant theoretical explanations of what developing countries can do to improve their performance in ‘technology transfer’; an exposition of the process of technology acquisition suggested by the TCB system framework; an analysis of the performance of twenty-six African telecommunication operating firms in acquiring technological inputs from external sources in light of the TCB system approach; and the insights that emerge from this analysis.

Existing Concepts and Evidence of Technology Transfer Technology transfer: A Misnomer Despite its widespread usage, the term technology transfer is problematic since it suggests passivity on the part of firms. By using the term transfer rather than acquisition, conventional researchers, perhaps inadvertently, impose a frame in which the role of developing countries is that of a recipient of imported technology (usually equipment), rather than that of an active economic agent searching for technological solutions. Farrell2 and Vaitsos3 criticise the implicit assumption of passivity on the part of the recipients and purchasers of technological inputs and offer an alternative—commercialisation of technology. The TCB system framework prefers the term technology acquisition and defines this as the range of activities that are likely to be necessary for firms in developing countries to source, purchase, install, test, and commission equipment and related services from international suppliers. In the rest of this section, the term technology transfer is retained to reflect the usage by contributors to this field.

254 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Deconstructing Technology Transfer Processes
Technology transfer usually consists of commercial transactions in

which a bundle of technological inputs—equipment as well as technical services, such as technical assistance, construction, engineering and related services — is exchanged.4 The prevailing view in academic literature is that developing country firms do not fare well in these transactions since equipment suppliers often lock developing countries into contracts of long duration and provide technical services at inflated rates. Reddy reports that technological equipment (artefacts) transferred by international firms were, on average, four times older than those used in the home country of the transnational corporations (TNCs). It is not only developing country researchers who have provided fuel for a less than positive assessment of the results of technology transfer. Research conducted from the point of view of the ‘home country’ of the TNCs has also suggested that only mature technologies should be transferred.5 Pavitt5 points out that technology transfer is best understood as a process involving the cumulative flow of codified and tacit knowledge. Bell and Pavitt6 take the implications of these characteristics further by suggesting that since tacit knowledge transferred is usually “firm-specific information concerning the characteristics and performance properties of production processes and product designs”, recipients would normally be obliged to devote substantial resources to assimilate, adapt, and improve upon the original technology. These authors also point out that the environmental conditions facing developing country firms, such as poor supply conditions for resource and knowledge inputs and institutional immaturity, are not conducive to sourcing external technological inputs. Studies of technological capability development in sub-Saharan Africa amply demonstrate this point for firms in this region.7 Technology transfer takes place in a variety of modes and at different levels within recipient firms. The main distinction is between equitybased (direct foreign investment and joint ventures) and non-equity based (licensing, franchising, management contracts, marketing and

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 255

technical service contracts, turnkey contracts and subcontracting) modes of technology transfer. In the former, technology transfer takes place via intra-firm relationships and, in the latter, it is characterised as an arms-length relationship between the recipient and transferring firms. Empirical trends for the 1980s showed that Direct Foreign Investment still accounted for the largest share of technology transfer, as measured by receipts for technology royalties, fees and technical services in the 1980s, although the context in which technology transfer takes place has changed significantly.8 Technology transfer also takes place through trade by importing machinery or by exporting to buyers who provide expertise.9 Developing country firms are likely to face specific barriers since they often engage in technology transfer across national borders. They must respond to the need to adapt technologies to local conditions as well as the differences in infrastructure between home and host locations, and distance and communication costs.10 Critical Success Factors in Technology Transfer Hoffman and Girvan11 argued that greater selectivity in policy intervention and improvements in the management of technology transfer at the national level within developing countries were possible solutions to the risks associated with the lack of genuine technology transfer. These authors also consider technology transfer to be a variegated process involving exchange of information, materials and people and explicitly recognise that the outcomes produced in technology transfer processes vary. Studies of technology transfer suggest that firms that have been able to successfully manage technological acquisition incorporated the following elements: • Training and learning components in technology transfer agreements and an explicit focus on acquiring various combinations of design, engineering and project management technologies.9,12

256 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Sponsoring or otherwise encouraging overseas postgraduate training and work experience for engineers and managers, enabling them to acquire problem-solving skills and aptitudes and to gain access to informal international networks.13 • Establishing knowledge-acquiring operations, such as R&D centres or technological learning outposts, overseas.9 • Using management practices, corporate culture and leadership styles that facilitated efforts to jointly manage technology importation and local capability development activities.14 Although many studies indicated that there are likely to be long-term benefits from implementing complementary approaches, empirical studies are still relatively rare.15 • Concentrating on a wider range of activities than those associated with passive importation of technological inputs and having an awareness that passivity might lead to increased domestic production output and improvements in static efficiency but unlikely to make a contribution to learning activities. Bell and Pavitt6 argue that it is possible for firms to develop effective systems for importing foreign technologies in combination with efforts to develop local technologies and to build technological capability. In their ideal-type, imported techniques and practices do not “crowd out” local technology and domestic capability building. However, these authors noted that few countries were able to implement policy regimes that supported complementarity between domestic technological capability development and acquisition of technology from abroad; instead, the majority of developing countries approached these modes of capability development as substitutes. Bell and Pavitt6 present a wide range of sources of imported technology, including direct foreign investment (joint ventures), sub-contracting, original equipment manufacturing (OEM) agreements, licensing, and contracts for know-how, designs, equipment and services. They observe that capability development may involve intensive efforts to improve and develop what is initially acquired, or more passive adaptation or minor modifications of imported inputs.

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 257

Linearity Assumptions Lall16 characterises technology transfer as a process in which recipient firms, through a cumulative process, acquire capabilities of increasing levels of complexity. He suggests that firms move through four levels of technology transfer and acquire the associated capabilities, as shown in Figure 14–1. This sequential approach to technology transfer forms the basis of much of the conventional academic and policy writing on this important subject and has been influential in policy development. It is complementary to the linear view of technological capability development developed by the same author.
Figure 14–1: Levels of technology transfer in Lall’s framework
INNOVATIVE (advanced design) ADAPTIVE (technological self-reliance) DUPLICATIVE (intermediate) OPERATIONAL (basic level) Ability to develop next generation system Ability to adapt product designs or reengineer production processes Ability to expand output without further foreign assistance Ability to manage/operate production facility designed and built by foreign partner

Source: Author, based on Lall,16 (Lall, 1992:167, Table 1), and Lall (1987:18, Table 1.1)

Stewart17 appears to accept this linear model and uses it to offer a pessimistic view of the impact of technology transfer on development. She argues that technology transfer between industrialised countries and developing countries is not well-suited to promoting equitable development and balanced growth in the importing country. For Stewart, since transfer involves the importation of technologies that have characteristics more suited to the home market where the technology was developed, the process can (and often does) result in the development of a dualistic society. She also argues that since only a few developing countries have been able to manage technology transfer effectively, technology transfer does not result in increased productivity, support for local technological effort and/or distribution of benefits to the majority of the population. Based on evidence from the 1980s, she also states that sub-Saharan African countries present the most

258 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development obvious example of the negative consequences of technology transfer. Stewart17 concludes by suggesting that developing countries should adopt a staged process to improve their management of technology transfer. Borrowing from Lall, she argues that a linear model of capability development and technology transfer is useful since it defines, for the developing country firm, the objective of moving phases of transfer: “[mounting] the ladder of full assimilation . . . because higher stages permit more efficient operation of technology . . . indicates increased local technological capability, and therefore increased ability to assimilate other technologies efficiently and to acquire and bargain over new transfers, and . . . to control the direction of technological change.” (Stewart17 p. 309). As will be discussed in greater detail in the next section, the TCB system approach, consistent with work by Bell and Pavitt,6 Ernst et al.,18 and Kim,10 adopts a non-linear process of technology acquisition. In this approach, the balance of interest between suppliers and buyers of technological inputs is assumed to be forever changing. This theoretical position is supported by evidence in Hoffman and Girvan,11 which shows that recipient countries have exercised greater degrees of freedom in managing the terms and conditions of technology transfer.

Technology Acquisition in the TCB System Approach

The TCB system framework draws on insights from existing research and carefully considers, in particular, theoretical contributions from Bell and Pavitt,6 Hoffman and Girvan,11 Lall,17 and Stewart;18 reviews of research on technology transfer from Boseman,19 Kumar and Siddhartan,20 Radosevic,21 and Reddy;4 and empirical work reported in Kumar.8 It is worth noting that much of this research is located within the manufacturing

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 259

sector and does not extend to intra-firm processes. The study on which this essay is based specifically focuses on aspects of these lacunae, by examining intra-firm processes of service sector firms. This conceptual framework also builds on insights from an emerging body of work that recognises that intra-firm learning processes and the experiences of nontechnology-producing users may have important lessons for understanding the capability-building processes of developing country firms.22 Technology Acquisition as a Non-linear Process The TCB system approach accepts the notion that levels or stages of technology capability may be useful as an organising rubric to describe distinctions between kinds of capabilities, but regards the stages model of technology transfer as being less useful. Several reasons are advanced in support of an alternative model of technology acquisition, which relaxes assumptions of linearity associated with the stages model. First, by refuting the assumption that developing country firms have an inevitability or increasing desire to move to ever “higher levels of transfer”, it allows consideration of capability development objectives, other than generating technology. Second, it provides for a wider range of policy guidance, augmenting the recommendations that focus only on how developing country firms can gain access to the proprietary technologies associated with “higher stages” of transfer. In the non-linear TCB system approach, there is a focus on policy interventions that can provide incentives for technology acquisition and increase mutual benefit to the actors in technology transactions. Third, the TCB approach focuses on what recipient firms must do to progress from operational to innovative levels of technology transfer and considers what specific factors limit or facilitate such movement at the intra-firm level. Fourth, the foreign partners in the TCB system approach are not considered, by definition, to be detrimental or beneficial to the accumulation of more advanced abilities by developing country firms. Instead, their role is considered to be an input to a process of capability development. The relationship between developing country firms and foreign

260 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development suppliers is considered to change over time; for example, it is assumed that the knowledge, skills and equipment provided “with foreign assistance” can be substituted by local capabilities as firms acquire more advanced capabilities. Fifth, in this framework, the nature of the technology plays a crucial role in defining the transfer relationship. In many early studies, the imbalance in capabilities between recipient and transferring firms, rather than technical change, was the major focus of attention. By not including technology specific factors, several important aspects of technology acquisition and the potential for strategy on the part of recipients were missed. Finally, the TCB system approach regards variation as important in the ability of firms to manage technology transfer. When acquisition of technology takes place in a context where technological knowledge is mature, unchanging, and available from public sources, and the technological frontier at which innovative activity takes place (defined as the ability to generate next generation systems) is within the grasp of developing country firms, some of the assumptions of linearity hold. However, in more challenging contexts of technological change, alternative explanations are required. In light of these observations, the conceptual framework for understanding technology transfer relaxes most of these assumptions of linearity and is therefore more likely to be relevant in a wide range of contexts. Integrating External and Internal Capability Development Processes The TCB system approach recognises that, for the majority of developing country firms, importation of technological inputs is a major source of capability development. Internationally operating firms or local branches of such firms are the main source of supply of technological inputs, and developing country firms use a variety of mechanisms to acquire technological capabilities from external sources. The types of mechanisms include: selecting suppliers; procuring equipment and services from external suppliers under suitable terms and conditions; and

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 261

integrating this supply process with other aspects of technological capability building. Reliance on imported technological inputs is considered necessary, because the local innovation system in the majority of developing countries does not provide adequate sources of advanced technological knowledge, equipment, software and technical services. The TCB system approach emphasises the need to balance indigenous capacity development with the importation of know-how and suggests that to effectively manage the interface with suppliers, firms must draw on many other capabilities. It is expected that firms that have developed capabilities to manage and process change, to develop leadership and culture that support learning and specific management practices to manage learning, will be more adept at acquiring technological inputs from external sources. In this framework, the ability to deploy cultural, leadership and change management strategies, is referred to as “internal processes” for building technological capabilities. In the technology transfer literature, these capabilities are referred to as “absorptive” capacities, or the ability to “manage technology transfer”. The TCB system approach extends the concept of absorptive capacity by specifying mechanisms used to manage boundary relationships, such as those with suppliers, and mechanisms that improve the ability and willingness to search for technological sources, and the ability to integrate new varieties of technology. The framework also extends the understanding of critical success factors for acquisition of technology by focusing on the individual human aspects of technology acquisition processes. These features have been treated extensively in the organisational development literature, but have received relatively little attention in the ‘technology transfer’ literature.23 Constrained Agency Arising from Technical Change and Industry Features The effectiveness of developing country firms acquiring technologies is considered explicitly to be under the partial control of these firms. Other important factors, such as the willingness and ability of external

262 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development suppliers to play a role in capability development and the nature of the technological inputs that the developing country firm is seeking to acquire, will also matter. Therefore, the technology acquisition process is considered to be a boundary relationship in which developing country firms exercise constrained agency. The firms are not completely passive actors at the mercy of TNCs, but they are also not fully in control of the extent to which they can maximise capability development objectives using externally acquired inputs. This characterisation has features in common with the treatment provided by Bell and Pavitt.6 The amplification provided by this approach is that it provides a detailed analysis of the conditions that influence the acquisition of different types of capabilities, and emphasises industry specific factors as one of the explanatory factors. The limitations and opportunities for making effective use of supplier relationships for technological capability building are expected to be derived from the nature of the specific technological inputs being sought and the willingness and ability of supplier firms to provide these inputs. In the conventional technology transfer field represented here by Lall17 and Stewart,18 developing country firms are often assumed to have less access to technological inputs as a result of the concentration of innovation activity in the industrialised countries. The secular trend of the increasing concentration of innovation activity is not questioned here, but an alternative reading of its consequences for developing country firms is offered. It is argued that while the inputs for generating radical innovation may be affected by this trend, many of the capabilities that are required by developing country firms are likely to be unaffected by concentration in innovative activities. Therefore, the majority of developing country firms that do not operate at technological frontiers are unlikely to be constrained by the increasing concentration of innovative activity. Many of the early studies of technology transfer focused on the manufacturing sector, where firms in developing countries were seeking to produce the same output (at a lower cost) as their suppliers. The trend for radical innovation and incremental innovative activity to be

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 263

increasingly concentrated in large, transnational corporations that invest heavily in professional R&D facilities and other supporting infrastructures, and that seek to appropriate returns through the enforcement of intellectual property rights, would have an impact on the manufacturing sector. This threat of the extension of proprietary rights to production technologies may have been overstated. In service sectors, the purchaser of imported inputs often does not directly compete with their suppliers, and the threat of non-disclosure of technological functionality, etc., is therefore reduced.24 This approach takes account of the trends identified by Bell and Pavitt,6 such as the increasing specialisation in many technological markets. They note that this has led to an increase in the sources of technological inputs, particularly for processes other than radical innovation. For instance, there are many more suppliers of codified knowledge and there have been increases in the number of specialised suppliers of equipment. Other factors that may facilitate access to external inputs include increased international migration of skilled labour and information and communication technologies that assist in the technological search process. The TCB system approach also considers that technological change has implications for the relationship between suppliers of technological inputs and their customers. In the telecommunications industry, a specific technological change, which has major implications, is the increases in the embeddedness of knowledge within equipment. By presenting a more detailed analysis of the types of technological capabilities that are likely to be desired by developing country firms, and by considering the constituent elements of technological capabilities, the TCB system approach provides a more nuanced analysis of the technological acquisition process. The approach specifically considers that international suppliers can provide only a subset of the capability inputs required from external sources. Suppliers operating in commercial markets are likely to be able to supply tacit and codified knowledge, software, equipment, etc., but cannot provide the supplier management capability that firms require to integrate these inputs. A fully operational capability to manage supplier relationships requires

264 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development active investment and components that cannot be provided by suppliers. Effectiveness in managing supplier relationships includes the ability to search for alternative sources, to negotiate supply on appropriate terms and conditions and to integrate external inputs from a variety of sources. Another key feature of the TCB system approach to understanding the role of technological acquisition in capability building is the emphasis on understanding how the changing nature of the relationship between supplier and user and the technological characteristics of the inputs affect the process of technological acquisition. For example, sector specific studies on capability development in the telecommunications sector provide useful insights into how the acquisition of capability inputs from external sources is impacted by industry-specific factors and technological change.25 Conventional studies of technology transfer often do not adequately take these factors into account.

Evidence from African Telecommunications Firms Supplier Selection Operating companies in the sample considered cost effectiveness, product functionality, depth of technological knowledge, technical support, track record in similar markets and speed of delivery to be among the most important criteria. The sample firms with well-developed TCB systems expressed the importance of having defined criteria and supplier selection systems that included technology assessment and evaluation mechanisms, whereas firms with underdeveloped TCB systems did not. There was a reasonably good fit between the criteria reportedly used by operating companies and the perception of their suppliers. The analysis of empirical results also confirms that operating firms did not consider the ability to generate products with a high

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 265

degree of technological novelty as an important criterion, but placed more emphasis on commercial abilities and the execution abilities of their suppliers. Wherever there were technical criteria, they were in terms of the functionality of the equipment that would be supplied. Embeddedness of knowledge and information in equipment was one of the features of technological change in the telecommunications industry that influenced the acquisition of capability inputs from suppliers of equipment. The companies reportedly used as suppliers are shown in Figure 14–2.
Figure 14–2: Identifying important suppliers of equipment and services
Company Name Number of operating companies

Ecrisson Alcatel, Cisco, Lucent, NEC, Scientific Atlanta Advent, Airspan UK Ltd (formerly DSC), AT&T, BBC, BT, Digital Equipment Corporation, Divicom, ITELCO, MAS, MCL, Mitsubishi, MSI, NDS, Nortel, NTL, Plessey, Siemens, Tadiran, Varian, Fujitsu, Hughes Network Systems, Iredeto, Irridium
N=16 operating companies

4 2 1

Specific Mechanisms for Acquiring Technology from Suppliers Eleven firms provided data on the specific mechanisms used to acquire information, know-how and skills from their suppliers of equipment and services; these data are presented in Figure 14–3. Analysis of these data suggests that the formation of joint network design teams with suppliers, as well as tendering and bid evaluation processes, were used by the highest number of sample firms for technology acquisition. Exclusive product demonstrations, long-term attachments at the suppliers’ site and interaction through social networks were among the mechanisms that were each used by one firm. There were variations among firms, according to the size and level of development of the TCB system. For example, one large national telecommunications company reported a very different pattern, insofar as the company placed its emphasis on

266 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development transfer during field trials and procurement, rather than via provision of regular training programmes.
Figure 14–3: Specific routines used for technology transfer from suppliers
Technology Transfer Mechanism Frequency (# of firms reporting usage)

1. Formation of joint project teams for network planning 2. Tendering and bid evaluation processes including development of technical specifications 3. Intensive use of supplier technical support hotline 4. Regular communication at functional middle-level management with international and local divisions of supplier firms 5. Short-term contracts for expatriate engineers from supplier companies during testing & commissioning on site in African country 6. Training on specific equipment provided at supplier premises in South Africa (REGIONAL CENTRE) 7. Training on specific equipment provided at supplier premises in Sweden 8. Technical support services provided by supplier staff on operating company site 9. General technological training courses organised by suppliers and delivered overseas 10. Know-how transfer projects managed as part of procurement and equipment trial processes 11. Designation of executive with overall responsibility for managing supplier relationship 12. Long-term attachments with supplier companies on their premises 13. Shared social networks 14. Exclusive product demonstrations
N= 11 operating companies

4 4 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1

Specific and Complementary Routines for Managing Supplier Relationships Firms are not born with the ability to manage supplier relationships. The development of boundary management competencies required active investment and the implementation of routines to strengthen: • the ability to evaluate technological capability requirements;

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 267

• the ability to scan and search, which incorporates the ability to investigate and understand technological trends, and the ability to select high-quality sources of technological inputs on appropriate terms and conditions; and • the ability to integrate external inputs. Only seven out of twenty-six firms used formal evaluation and/or scan and search routines. These seven firms had well-developed TCB systems, consisting of a wide range of TCB mechanisms, and they also paid attention to the integration of all capability development activity. South African operating companies were the most intensive users of formal technology search and evaluation techniques, with five out of the firms operating in South Africa reporting the use of these mechanisms. The relatively large size of the South African companies may be an explanatory factor here, since scan and search activities require a critical mass of highly skilled technical personnel. The other distinctive feature of the large South African operating companies is that their network development was funded independent of bilateral or multilateral development assistance, whereas in Uganda and Tanzania, the large public network operators did not operate independent search and scan mechanisms. It may be, as reported by the interviewees, that these firms were not able to exercise a choice in the selection of suppliers, but were obliged to use the suppliers named by the financiers. This characteristic was also the case for the Ghanaian public operator prior to privatisation. In addition to the South African companies, two other companies in the sample reported using formal search and evaluation techniques. These two firms were outliers in their active approach to capability development. The Ugandan company had a technology and operational strategy that was closely influenced and directed by its major shareholder—a large South African company with operations in other parts of the continent. In the case of the other outlier, a small Tanzanian data-communication company, the implementation of formal search and evaluation techniques was linked directly to the corporate culture of the firm. This company was part of a group of companies founded

268 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development by young Africans, including MIT engineering graduates. The background of the founders, their interest in technological sophistication, their vision in promoting innovation, and their direct involvement in influencing technological strategy had enabled this small company to extend its boundaries beyond the limits imposed by its small size and the deficiencies of the local innovation system. If informal scan and search routines, such as attending trade fairs and exhibitions and participating in different communities of interest (professional bodies, trade associations, working parties of regional and international organisations) are included, the number of firms increases to eighteen. The pattern for use of informal mechanisms differed from that for formal mechanisms in so far as there was wider representation from Ugandan, Ghanaian and Tanzanian firms. For example, a small Tanzanian private network operating company reported that its owner used trade fairs and exhibitions as a cost-effective mechanism for acquiring technological information. The owner of the firm, a technological pioneer in Tanzania, reported that he took direct and personal responsibility for this activity, drawing on his technological background in aviation and aeronautical engineering, which he used as a foundation to expand into telecommunications. Another example comes from a small Ghanaian data communications company, whose spokesperson reported an exceptionally high usage of these informal mechanisms. This firm was an active participant in technological development at the regional and international levels. The background of the founder of this business was as a professional engineer with more than 20 years of private sector overseas experience in the United States and active involvement with the United Nations development agencies as a technical assistance provider. This may account for the permeability of this firm’s organisational boundaries and its high propensity to be actively engaged in technology scanning and search activities. The other intensive users of these informal mechanisms were large public network national operators in Uganda and Tanzania and the national mobile operators in South Africa. However, the explanations for the observed patterns differ for these two groups. For the former, active participation in industry associations

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 269

and in the working parties of the African Telecommunication Union, Commonwealth Telecommunication Organisation and the International Telecommunication Union, was reported to be an important means for independent assessment of technological trends and the evaluation of suppliers. These regional and multilateral bodies were considered by interviewees to be ‘honest brokers’ since they did not fund network development, but instead were mandated to share information about appropriate technological choice and to provide information on equipment standardisation. Conversely, for the two national mobile operators in South Africa, participation in industry associations was said to focus on groupings such as the GSM Association, where employees engaged in the development of standards for particular technologies on an equal footing with the other participants. The relatively strong standing of the South African participants is demonstrated by the fact that employees of one of the operators had held international office in the GSM Association at the time the data was collected. Another community of interest, which appears to have been an important source of external inputs, is the strategic investors and shareholders in the operating companies. Even companies with only moderate development of their TCB system and those with no discernible TCB system reported that they maintained regular communication with regional headquarters, sister companies and shareholders as a means of gaining external technological input. There were some large companies, particularly in Ghana, that used formal mechanisms for acquiring technological inputs and expertise from shareholders and strategic investors, including long-term attachments for local staff at the site of the investors and formal training courses organised by the investor companies. In summary, the evidence drawn from interviewees shows that the sample firms engaged in activities that were designed to develop their scan and search capabilities. The foregoing analysis suggests that variations in the use and implementation of these mechanisms are related to features, such as size, organisational culture and leadership. The TCB system approach suggests that the ability to integrate externally sourced technological inputs is likely to require complementary

270 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development capabilities if firms are to benefit from boundary relationships.26 As noted in the earlier discussion of the conceptual framework, these features tend to be discussed in organisational development theory, but ignored by economists examining technical change and innovation. Empirical evidence supported this proposition; sample firms were found to be ineffective at supplier management when complementary aspects of technological evaluation and integration were not in place. In particular, firms that created conditions for experimentation, reinforcement of knowledge and promotion of higher-order learning were better able to integrate external inputs. Among the sample firms were those with explicit technology strategies, which considered themselves to be worldclass as well as the technologically active outlier firms, as discussed earlier in this section. There was also a large Ghanaian firm that had focused its competitive strategy on the development of the technological competencies of its people. This company focused its evaluation efforts on formal needs-assessments. Similarly, firms that demonstrated a high level of competence in integrating external inputs were also those that exhibited advanced competencies in management development and practices, such as a clear definition and assignment of responsibilities. Role of Human Factors in Accessing Tacit Knowledge Evidence from the sample firms confirmed that supplier relationships were an important source of technological capabilities. In particular, these contractual relationships were used to acquire equipment, software, and codified knowledge and information in the form of equipment handbooks, training course materials, maintenance procedures and protocols. Although the equipment component typically accounted for a large percentage of the reported financial cost, contracts usually included elements of non-embodied capability. While the majority of the sample firms used traditional delivery mechanisms for accessing codified knowledge and information, a few firms augmented these with information technology tools, such as hotlines and web-based technology support. Traditional and computer-assisted mechanisms seem to

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 271

have provided operating companies with access to factual information on equipment functionality and specifications, maintenance routines and equipment and software upgrades. Embodied capabilities were provided when suppliers organised training courses and technical support and services. A variety of mechanisms were used for the transfer of embodied capabilities, which ranged from formal classroom-based instruction at the operating company site to long-term attachments of operating company staff at the site of the supplier. Other mechanisms used by the sample firms included visiting supplier premises and reference sites, establishing joint project teams for network development, and using consultants and specialists from suppliers on short-term technical assistance assignments. The most significant characteristic of these mechanisms was that they involved the exchange of tacit knowledge and information between supplier and operating company. Due to the importance of the tacit component of knowledge flow, these exchanges took place using both formal and informal mechanisms, and their effectiveness of exchange appears to have been highly dependent on design and implementation. Tacit knowledge and information exchanges require trust between parties, acknowledgement of the contextual characteristic of knowledge and information, and shared meanings. As a result, the design of the exchange mechanisms that was sensitive to these characteristics would require considerable skill on the part of both the operating companies and the supplier firms. The features of technology acquisition exchanges that appeared to improve effectiveness, particularly for transfer of tacit knowledge components, included mechanisms for: • Selecting training instructors and “experts” who had up-to-date knowledge sets, sound fundamental technological training, good communication skills, and experience in similar operating contexts. • Ensuring that there is regularity of contact over all phases of network development and operation and not limiting the tacit knowledge and information exchanges to commissioning and testing phases.

272 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development • Organising joint ownership of the technology acquisition objectives expressed in the design and staffing of project teams and the breadth of the activities that are assigned to buyers of technological inputs. Other characteristics of managing supplier relationships, which reportedly contributed to the effectiveness of the sample firms’ TCB efforts, included: • The ability of personnel in the telecommunication operating companies to maintain strong social networks with the staff of supplier firms; • Maintenance of regular contact between the staff of the operating companies and the supplier firms at all levels of hierarchy, ranging from global executives to local managers; • Implementation of mechanisms that foregrounded joint learning, such as through equipment trials, where suppliers and operating companies were actively involved in understanding technology requirements and specifications, prior to full commercial deployment; and • Implementation of tendering processes that resulted in maximum disclosure of codified information and provided opportunities for intensive communication between suppliers and users. When there were weak search and scan abilities, the operating companies in the sample were less able to select suppliers that were skilled in the design of technology dissemination projects. The involuntary lack of control over choice of suppliers, on the part of the operating company, had the same effect as weak scan and search capabilities by artificially restricting suppliers. This lack of control over the design of technology acquisition projects appears to have limited the effectiveness of the exchange of codified and tacit information flows and, particularly, hampered the flow of tacit information. Another important design flaw was caused by the misconception that technology acquisition was limited to commissioning, testing and installing equipment. Smaller firms in the

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 273

sample reported that they were hampered by their lack of critical mass of qualified and experienced personnel and their inability to make appropriate selections to staff technology acquisition projects. Impact of Technological Change The sample firms’ reliance on global market leaders as an important source of external technological inputs appeared to be related to the following features of technological change in the telecommunications industry. As more knowledge and information is encoded or embedded in equipment and software control algorithms, suppliers appeared to have been forced to become more expert in helping their customers to understand and use this sophisticated equipment. While this characteristic of embeddedness has the effect of making knowledge required for network management increasingly product (equipment/application) specific, it also increases the possibility for fine-tuning network performance characteristics through software changes. This increasing embeddedness of knowledge in equipment has meant that the supply of embodied and nonembodied elements of technological capabilities in the telecommunications industry has become increasingly coupled. This trend has had the effect of reducing the importance of intermediaries and information brokers as sources of external technological inputs. Telecommunications operating companies expect their suppliers to design and support equipment with appropriate functionalities and to understand the operational context in which that equipment will be used. There has also been a rapid and accelerating pace of technological change in telecommunications systems, subsystems and sub-components, which has led to the need for regular, continuous interface between suppliers and operating companies. The pace of change has also had some negative consequences, in that it has created artificial crises spurring operating companies into continuous rounds of technological upgrading and “improvement”. As a result, the high levels of software controls used in the switching and access networks and the high information and knowledge content

274 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development coded in equipment (devices and components) have resulted in IT and project management becoming core competencies for telecommunications network operating companies. All professional technical employees and particularly those in specific functions, such as network management and optimisation, are required to have high levels of IT literacy. In summary, the effect of technological change in the telecommunications industry has led developing country firms, such as those in the sample, to be more likely to use a single supplier firm as a source of external technological inputs. The single source of supply is likely to allow operating companies to take advantage of the coupling effect of having access to non-embodied capabilities and embodied capabilities. These long-term, one-stop supplier relationships were common among the sample firms, but did not necessarily lead to the deleterious effect on access to technological capabilities that was implied by conventional studies on technology transfer. There appeared to be potential shortcomings in the single-supplier mode, especially for firms without technological evaluation capabilities, insofar as the operating companies could be persuaded to make regular upgrades in technological inputs at a pace determined by their supplier, rather than at a more measured pace in line with their capacity to direct and absorb the integration of these inputs. Technological change also led to the emergence of at least two areas of core competence—IT and project management. Impact of Specialisation and Concentration of Innovative Activity The findings confirm that the sample firms, including those with extensive search routines, frequently used global market leaders as their suppliers (these firms were those that had led the trend to concentrate innovative activity, as measured by R&D, patents, etc.) in the equipment industry. The suppliers used by the sample firms mainly included market leaders and second-tier equipment suppliers. The evidence does not provide support for a view that developing country firms were active in diversifying their suppliers. The qualitative accounts suggested that the operating companies in the sample did not favour smaller or alternative

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 275

sources of supply. Where small companies such as Tadiran, the Israelibased company, were used, these firms were often niche market leaders in specific segments, such as wireless in the local loop access network components and systems. This pattern is consistent with the nature of competition in the telecommunications equipment supply industry. Put simply, the global market leaders were willing and able to provide the operating companies with access to up-to-date equipment and the technical services required to efficiently develop, deploy and maintain networks based on that equipment. Therefore, these global market leaders were the suppliers of choice of the operating companies. The evidence from the sample firms does not support the view that implementing search routines leads to greater diversification. Ironically, for the operating firms where there were multiple sources of technological inputs, this was involuntary and was imposed by multilateral agencies and heavily criticised by the purchasers. The qualitative accounts, however, do support the argument that the firms that had developed routines for technology needs assessment and integration of external inputs were better able to manage their single-supplier relationships. The telecommunications operating companies in the four developing countries in this study selected a limited range of companies to supply their key technological inputs. While the operating companies appeared not to have an interest per se in the innovative performance of the supplier companies, their keen interest in functionality and standardisation of equipment led to a de facto limit on the range of supplier sources. This is the same outcome as if they had been explicitly interested in choosing only those companies with relatively strong innovation performance. The limited range of suppliers does not appear to have affected the ability of these developing country firms to exercise ‘constrained agency’ in acquiring technological inputs from these firms. This may be explained by the interest of the global market leaders in increasing their effectiveness as suppliers of non-embodied and embodied capabilities. The suppliers to the sample firms appeared to perceive that their success in winning business from the telecommunications operating

276 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development companies in Africa was dependent on their responsiveness to the business needs of these companies. The perception that it was important to have joint ownership of technological development objectives between suppliers and operating companies was indicated by the inclusion of such features as the ability to jointly plan and manage network deployment and operation among the list of critical success factors reported by suppliers. What is perhaps even more interesting is the evidence that the supplier firms were themselves investing in organisational systems that may improve their ability to be responsive to the technological development objectives of their developing country customers. For example, one of the supplier firms provided evidence that it had developed specialised career paths for technical assistance experts who were deployed to assist customers with network deployment and management. This company had also developed mechanisms whereby the employees of their customers could undertake formal certified training courses to achieve comparable levels of skill and expertise as the career network specialists of the supplier firm. There is also corroborating evidence that suggests that this company considered its ability to design these technology dissemination mechanisms as a source of core competence in all market segments, and had applied these business processes in developed markets.27 The evidence from this research suggests that this company was extending implementation of these business processes to its developing country markets. The organisational innovations, which were perceived by supplier firms in the sample to be most effective, include: • undertaking investments in their internal technological learning and facilitating knowledge dissemination; • adapting business processes to increase knowledge and information flows between suppliers and users; • regular and continuous interfacing with customers through a variety of formal and informal mechanisms; • documenting the best practice mechanisms for knowledge dissemination;

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 277

• improving account management; and • using computer-assisted tools for dissemination of information. In summary, the changing nature of competition appears to be closely associated with the technological features of the products offered by these firms. Competitive success was considered to be increasingly dependent on the ability to assist customers in achieving their objectives and was believed to require organisational innovation to improve and maintain levels of responsiveness. On the evidence, it would appear that the global market leaders were satisfying their developing country customers in terms of their levels of responsiveness. This result suggests an interesting line of further research that would investigate whether relationships similar to the ones exhibited in the telecommunications industry are present in other sectors. Limits on Suppliers as Source of Technological Inputs Although equipment and service suppliers appear to have been an effective and significant source of technological inputs for the operating firms in the sample, there are indications of some types of knowledge inputs where these private sector companies were less useful. Private sector equipment and service companies provided non-embodied and embodied technological inputs that were required by operating companies, but were regarded as being less effective as sources of knowledge about fundamental scientific principles, basic technological training and understanding about the nature and direction of technological trends. The operating companies also had needs for this type of knowledge and information, which could not be satisfied through their relationships with suppliers. This “know-why” was probably more effectively sourced from innovation system institutions, such as universities, training colleges and research labs, as well as from policy and regulatory bodies. The empirical evidence also suggests that international and regional bodies might play a useful role in providing this information and knowledge.

278 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development Other communities of interest and practice also made an important contribution to supply this “know-why”. Private-sector suppliers also did not seem to be particularly effective in providing access to knowledge and information about the best sources of codified and tacit knowledge needed by operating companies, also referred to as “know-who”. The communities of interest and practice referred to earlier appeared to be particularly good at providing independent assessments of competing sources of technological inputs, as were specialist information providers and organisers of trade fairs and exhibitions. To make use of these sources of “know-who”, operating companies had to have routines for evaluation and for searching and scanning. When operating companies used additional sources of external capability inputs, the equipment suppliers would be partners in technological choice, rather than taking direct ownership of this critical function. Private sector equipment suppliers would be unlikely to be an effective source of “know-who”, because they would be unlikely to provide objective assessments of the range of sources available. These results have policy implications for the design and functioning of national innovation systems.


Several key insights emerged from the study with relevance for public sector bodies as well as for strategic management of African ICT firms. First, the results suggest that African ICT firms should improve their capability to manage supplier relationships. Making these improvements is likely to influence whether developing country firms are able to benefit from access to external sources of technological capabilities. Effective management of supplier relationships was strongly influenced by endogenous variables, such as the level of development of the firm’s technological capability building system. In particular, the extent to which firms had acquired the specific competencies of technological

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 279

evaluation, search, acquisition, and integration appeared to strongly influence the ability of firms to benefit from commercial relationships with external suppliers. Complementary competencies that relied on human factors were found to be important for effective boundary relationship management, a component that is too often ignored in economics-based studies of “technology transfer”. Second, the result that confirms that African ICT firms appear to exercise constrained agency in their management of supplier relationships is also important. This suggests that ICT firms in Africa, such as those in the sample firms, adopt technology strategies that are not concerned with being generators of radical technological innovation at the frontiers of technology, but have to do with improving the firms’ ability to use, operate and adapt state-of-the-art technological inputs in their production processes. Achieving these objectives require sophisticated user capabilities, some of which can be sourced through relationships with suppliers, and others that require internal development. In addition, it was found to be important to differentiate between the many different types of knowledge and to assess the potential value that supplier relationships can add in each case. These considerations are particularly relevant in the case of service sector developing country firms, where many components of technological capability are embedded in equipment. An important conclusion of the study was that exogenous factors, such as technological change, increasing specialisation, concentration of innovation and the nature of competition also influence the contribution of supplier relationships to technological capability building objectives of ICT firms. On balance, the evidence suggests an optimistic interpretation of the effects of these exogenous factors. It provides illustrations of how large and small firms in the ICT sector in Africa can interact with global market leaders to the benefit of their technological objectives. The confluence of technological and market dynamics appears to be leading customers and suppliers to become keenly interested in the exchange of knowledge and this seems to be leading to more open dissemination and greater disclosure.

280 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development The empirical study outlined here confirms insights from research within the development studies field that suggest that external sources of technological capability need not crowd out domestic capability development. It extends this observation by highlighting the conditions under which the acquisition of technological capability inputs can advance the technological capability development objectives of developing country firms. These results have important implications for public policy in such fields as Science and Technology Development, Industrial Policy and ICT policy. The evidence should also inform the intervention approaches of national science and technology institutions and international organisations that support capability development in ICT, such as the UN ICT Task Force. The analysis indicates that firms can improve technological capability accumulation by paying attention to supplier management as a specific aspect of capability development. It also suggests that there is considerable room for improvement in terms of how organisations in national systems of innovation assist firms to acquire knowledge that cannot be obtained from commercial sources. Public-sector bodies in the national innovation system can play an important role in the capability building process by supplying complementary types of knowledge, “know-why” and “know-who”, for example, to support the search and scan capability of firms. To become more effective in this role, the national systems of innovation in developing countries will require considerable strengthening in terms of the range of institutions involved and the tools used to support capability development in firms. Applying the TCB system approach can contribute to moving developing country firms from passive technology transfer to strategic technological capability acquisition. These strategies are particularly relevant for firms that wish to enhance strategic competitiveness and cope with rapid and fundamental technological change in the ICT sector. The empirical evidence has shown that African ICT firms can make this transition to strategic technological capability acquisition by being more effective in relationships with suppliers and the innovation system.

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 281

National and global innovation system institutions should support and enhance the efforts that are already underway by making firm-level investments in learning more effective.


1. Marcelle, G. M. (2002). Technological Capability Building and Learning in the Developing World: The Experience of African Telecommunications Companies. Unpublished DPhil thesis, SPRU, University of Sussex, Brighton. 2. Farrell, T. M. A. (1979). Do Multinational Coporations Really Transfer Technology? Paper presented at the Integration of Science and Technolgy with Development: Caribbean and Latin American problems in the Context of the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology for Development, Miami April 6–8 1978. 3. Vaitsos, C. (1975). The Process of Commercialisation of Technology in the Andean Pact. In H. Radice (Ed.), International Firms and Modern Imperialism. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 4. Reddy, N. M., and Zhao, Linming (1990). International Technology Transfer: A Review. Research Policy, 19, 285–307. 5. See for example, Caves, R. (1996). Multinational Enterprise and Economic Analysis (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Pavitt, K. (1985). Technology Transfer among the Industrially Advanced Countries: An Overview. In N. Rosenberg, and C. Frischtak (Ed.), International Technology Transfer: Concepts, Measures and Comparisons (pp. 3–24). New York: Praeger. and Walker, A., and Ellis, H. (2000). Technology Transfer: Strategy, Management, Process and Inhibiting Factors. A Study Relationg to the Technology Transfer of Intelligent Systems. International Journal of Innovation Management, 4(1), 97–122. 6. Bell, M., and Pavitt, K. (1993). Accumulating Technological Capability in Developing Countries. Paper presented at the World Bank Annual Conference on Development Economics 1992, Washington D.C.; and Bell, M., and Pavitt, K. (1997). Technological Accumulation and Industrial Growth: Contrasts between Developed and Developing Countries. In D. Archibugi, and Michie, J. (Ed.), Technology, Globalisation and Economic Performance (pp. 83–137). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 7. See for example, Cooper, C. (1994). Science and Technology in Africa under Conditions of Economic Crisis and Structural Adjustment, UNU/INTECH Working Paper No.4. Maastricht; Enos, J. (1995). In Pursuit of Science and Technology in SubSaharan Africa: The Impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes. London: Routledge and UNU-Press; Forje, J. (1991). The Three Decades of Africa’s Science and Technology Policy Development. In M. Huq, P. Bhatt, C. Lewis, and A. Shibli, (Ed.), Science, Technology and Development:North-South Co-Operation. London: Frank Cass; Pickett, J. (1991). Indigeneous Technological Capability in Sub-Saharan Africa. In M. Huq, P. Bhatt, C. Lewis, and A. Shibli (Ed.), Science, Technology and Development: North-South Co-Operation. London: Frank Cass; and Wangwe, S.

282 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
(Ed.). (1995). Exporting Africa—Technology, Trade and Industrialisation in SubSaharan Africa. London: Routledge and UNU-Press. See Kumar, N. (1996). Foreign Direct Investments and Technology Transfers in Development: A Perspective on Recent Literature, UNU/INTECH Discussion Paper # 9606. Maastricht; and Kumar, N. (1997). Foreign Direct Investments and Technology Flows to Developing Countries. Paper presented at the Third Annual Workshop of EULDC Trade and Capital Relations Network on External Resources for Development, Rotterdam, Netherlands. In these studies, Kumar defines a concept of the quality of foreign direct investment (FDI) and suggests that developing countries can influence the “quality” of FDI and make conscious efforts to determine the extent to which technologies are transferred and the extent to which there is accumulation of capability through trade and investment. When the quality of FDI increases, technology is transferred and capabilities are acquired through trade and investment relationships. Hobday, M. (1995). Innovation in East Asia: The Challenge to Japan. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. See Kim, L., and Nelson, R.R. (Ed.) (2000). Technology Learning and Innovation: Cambridge University Press; Lundvall, B.A. (1988). Innovation as an Interactive Process: From User-Prooducer Interaction to the National System of Innovation. In G. Dosi, et al. (Ed.), Technical Change and Economic Theory (pp. 349–369). London: Pinter; and Teece, D. J., Pisano, G.P. and Shuen, A. (2000). Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management. In G. Dosi, R.R. Nelson, and S. Winter (Ed.), The Nature and Dynamics of Organisational Capabilities. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hoffman, K., and Girvan, N. (1990). Managing International Technology Transfer: A Strategic Approach for Developing Countries. Ottawa: IDRC. Enos, J., and Park, W.H. (1988). The Adoption and Diffusion of Imported Technology— the Case of Korea. London: Routledge. Bell, M. (1984). “Learning” and the Accumulation of Technological Capability. In M. Fransman, and K. King (Ed.), Technological Capability in the Third World (pp. 187–209). London: Macmillan. Cohen, W. M., and Levinthal, D.A. (1990). Absorptive Capacity: A New Perspective on Learning and Innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 128–152, provide an early and influential treatment of these issues from the organisational development perspective. Girvan, N., and Marcelle, G. (1990). Overcoming Technological Dependency:The Case of Electric Arc (Jamaica) Ltd., a Small Firm in a Small Developing Country. World Development, 18, 91–107. Lall, S. (1987). Learning to Industrialise: The Acquisition of Technological Capability by India. London: Macmillan Press and Lall, S. (1992). Technological Capabilities and Industrialisation. World Development, 20(2), 165–186. Stewart, F. (1990). Technology Transfer for Development. In R. Evenson, and G. Ranis (Ed.), Science and Technology: Lessons for Development Policy (pp. 301–324). Boulder: CO: Westview Press. Ernst, D., Mytleka, L., and Ganiatsos, T. (Ed.) (1998). Technological Capabilities and Export Success: Case Studies from Asia. London: Routledge. Boseman, B. (2000). Technology Transfer and Public Policy. Research Policy, 29(4–5), 627–655.


9. 10.

11. 12. 13.





18. 19.

From Transfer to Strategic Acquisition of Capabilities ✦ Marcelle ✦ 283
20. Kumar, N., and N.S. Siddhartan. (1997). Technology, Market Structure and Internationalisation. London and New York: Routledge and UNU Press. 21. Radosevic, S. (1999). International Technology Transfer and Catch-up in Economic Development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. 22. See for example, Cassiolato, J. E. (1997). Learning to Use Telematics Technologies in Service Firms: Lessons from the Brazilian Experience, Unpublished monograph prepared for UNU-INTECH. Dutrenit, G. (1998). From Knowledge Accumulation to Strategic Capabilities: Knowledge Management in a Mexican Glass Firm. Unpublished DPhil Thesis, University of Sussex; Remmelzwaal, B. (1996). Technological Learning and Capacity Building in the Service Sector in Developing Countries: The Case of Medical Equipment Management. Unpublished DPhil Thesis, University of Sussex; and Figuereido, P. (2001). Technological Learning and Competitive Performance. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. 23. Scholars are recognising the need for a multidisciplinary approach; see for example, Francis, D. and Bessant, J. (2002) “Transferring Soft Technologies”, Unpublished seminar paper presented November 4th 2002, at CENTRIM, University of Brighton, which states: “although there was little intellectual interchange between the predominately economic tradition that guided technology transfer specialists and humanistic behavioural science-orientated change agents who had constructed the methodologies of planned organisational change and developed OD. In the main, these two intellectual lifeworlds remained separate, with OD paying scant attention to technical change and technology transfer remaining naïve about the actuality of facilitating effective organisational development”. (p. 3). 24. I am grateful to Dr. Louanne Barclay, University of the West Indies, Mona, for pointing out that the same would be true for developing country manufacturing firms that were operating at distinct positions in the value chain from their international suppliers. 25. Davies, A. (1996). Innovation in Large Technical Systems: The Case of Telecommunications. Industrial and Corporate Change, 5(4), 1143–1180; Hobday, M. (1990). Telecommunications in Developing Countries: The Challenge from Brazil. London and New York: Routledge; Mansell, R. E. (1995). Innovation in Telecommunication: Bridging the Supplier-User Interface. In M. Dodgson, and R. Rothwell (Ed.), Handbook of Industrial Innovation (pp. 232–242). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing; and Mytelka, L. (Ed.) (1999). Competition, Innovation and Competitiveness in Developing Countries. Paris: OECD Development Centre. 26. The term complementary capabilities is used in the same sense as the notion of the reinforcing effect of primary and secondary conditioning features of capabilities. See Pettigrew, A., and Whipp, R. (1991). Managing Change for Competitive Success. Oxford: Blackwell. 27. McKelvey, M., Texier, F. and Hakan, A. (1998). The Dynamics of High Tech Industry: Swedish Firms Developing Mobile Telecommunication Systems.: Systems of Innovation Research Program, SIRP at Linkoping University, Sweden.


Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr.
President and CEO, Telecom Africa Corporation


Towards a Road Map for Information and Communications Technology Development in Africa

When all is said and done, there are basic facts that constitute Africa’s development challenges, the analysis and resolution of which will form the basis of a comprehensive strategic response. Such response must aim at transforming, once and for all, African life and condition to a respectable quality and level, one which Africans themselves can be satisfied with, if not proud of. Amongst these are: 1. The African condition, in the perception of Africans themselves, leaves a lot to be desired. 2. No matter how we got here, Africans are poised to take full responsibility for transforming that condition through a comprehensive self-development effort for the long-term. Recent developments demonstrate the determination of Africa’s leaders to 285

286 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development take command of the continent’s destiny, and to shape it for a better tomorrow. The essence of that commitment is unequivocal in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and enshrined in the vision of the African Union. Africa’s friends, as much in international organisations and the development community as in the private sector and civil society, have also declared their commitment to partner with Africa in this process, for mutual benefit, and the benefit of all. The United Nations system, through the Millennium Development Goals and the various United Nations initiatives for Africa, is doubling its efforts in support of Africa’s development. This is a major part of the commitment of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The commitment of the United Nations to the implementation of NEPAD, especially to NEPAD’s ICT initiatives under its eAfrica Commission, is an important aspect of this. Specifically, the creation of the United Nations ICT Task Force in the aftermath of the Millennium Summit, as a vehicle for mobilising all parties and resources in support of ICT development to serve as a catalyst to drive the Millennium Development Goals, holds much promise in this pursuit. The commitment of the Task Force to ICT development in Africa, within its overall programme, as evidenced by this book and its various initiatives listed in Appendix I, holds much promise in this regard. The success of this global partnership for Africa’s development is only possible, however, if Africans take charge of masterminding the strategies for such a massive effort, and direct the process. It is then, and only then, and only in such a context, that support and assistance can be best received and most effective in its deployment. Internally, Africa cannot effectively embark on such a mission without the complete buy-in and full and active participation of its people, working hand in hand with the leaders in a fully symbiotic enterprise for Africa’s future. The African people themselves are ready to play their part. Some have already been doing so and continue to do so whenever, wherever and however they






Towards a Road Map for ICT Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 287

can. Pooling these efforts in some loose comprehensive set of strategies and initiatives, which reduce the waste of precious resources without stunting creative scope, freedom and ingenuity, is the challenge. 8. Given such a conducive environment, Africa’s already quite vast existing expertise can be mobilised quite quickly to create initial results substantial enough to propel the process and provide the reinforcement of the recognition of accomplishments to sustain the effort. In this regard, Africans at home and abroad are forming various national, regional, trade and professional organisations and societies to address various development challenges. The deliberate and active interest in these initiatives by Africa’s leadership (and, for that matter, Africa’s development partners) would go a long way to reinforce the determination of these mostly young Africans to assume primary responsibility for achieving a goal we all share. 9. Information and communications technologies, in their versatility, offer major capacities to jumpstart and drive this process of self-development, penetrating even the far-flung and outer reaches of the continent, delivering resources as well as acquiring innovations for redistribution to other parts of Africa and the global community and market. 10. Here, in particular, Africans, individually and in corporate, social and professional groupings, are moving ahead to do what they can with their own limited resources. In many cases, they start their own initiatives and then challenge their leaders to give them a chance to address some of the major ICT challenges.

Some Notable Initiatives

In all of this, there have been many initiatives on ICT for African development, which are noteworthy by virtue of the initiative, determination,

288 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development commitment and courage of those who have led them. Here are a few examples. The Internet Initiative for Africa (IIA) of UNDP In 1997, when the idea of the Internet was still essentially a remote speculation for much of Africa, the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Programme, under the Directorship of Ms. Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, undertook to promote its introduction to Africa. The Internet Initiative for Africa, or IIA, was created by the then Chief Economist of the Bureau, Dr. John Ohiorhenuan, and Richard Kerby, who was in charge of information systems at the Bureau, with the collaboration of African ICT experts outside the UN system. IIA consisted of two basic components: the promotion of official receptivity to the introduction of the Internet on the part of African governments, and facilitating the building of Internet nodes in countries that did not have one or needed to reinforce what existed. To advance the objectives of the IIA, the Regional Bureau sponsored a group of African and non-African experts who criss-crossed the African continent, holding public seminars that brought together government officials (including Ministers and Directors), ICT entrepreneurs and a handful of representatives of the global industry to promote the benefits of the Internet. Of particular importance to the team was the need to persuade African governments that the benefits of an exponential jump in the access to knowledge and information by the people far outweighed any anxiety they may have that such access would undermine their authority. This perception of the Internet as a potential tool for “sabotage” was a very serious obstacle to official receptivity to its introduction. This group of what one might call “the Internet Troubadours for Africa”, consisted of Richard Kerby, of UNDP, who was the project officer and leader, Dr. Joseph Okpaku, Sr. of Telecom Africa Corporation, Professor Raymond Akwule of George Mason University, Ms. Amma Annan, then at AT&T, Diane Tyson, also of AT&T, Charles Coupet, then

Towards a Road Map for ICT Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 289

of Oracle (now with Microsoft), Roxanne McElvane of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Pierre Dandjinou of UNDP, Sarah Tesfaye, a private consultant, B. K. Njie, then Managing Director of Gamtel, Gambia’s PTT, now Secretary (Minister) for Communications and Technology, and Ebrima Ceesay, then Secretary (Minister) for Communications of Gambia. From these and other forums, a camaraderie developed between African ICT experts and African Ministers of Information and Communications. This, in turn, resulted in an African public-private partnership in ICT that has contributed in no small measure to the united focus and activism of Africans in the sector. In material terms, in pursuit of the second objective of the Internet Initiative for Africa, UNDP provided matching funds of up to half a million US dollars each for any African country wanting to set up an Internet node. Some eight countries took advantage of this offer. The IIA ran parallel to the Leyland Initiative of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which also helped to finance the establishment of Internet nodes in Africa. The latter initiative was named after the U.S. statesman, Mickey Leland, who died while on a visit to Africa. Both programmes coordinated their selection of countries to fund so as to avoid duplication and allow maximum spread. The African Advisory Group on ICT (AAG-ICT) One of the most important outgrowths of this symbiotic relationship between African Ministers of Information and Communications and African ICT experts has been the formation of the African Advisory Group on ICT (AAG-ICT), under the auspices of the Ministerial Oversight Committee of the African Connection. Created and primarily sponsored by the Minster of Communications of South Africa, Dr. Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, the African Advisory Group, as described in the introduction to this volume, consists of a dozen African ICT experts from around the world, who meet on an average of twice yearly for a day or two to provide high-level strategic advice to African Ministers on

290 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development matters of policy, strategy and indigenous capacity building. The chief executives of the African Telecommunications Union (which succeeded the Pan-African Telecommunications Union) and the African Connection are also members of the AAG. The effectiveness of the AAG comes also from the fact that its membership, which is based on personal recognition, represents the key areas of ICT. African Private Sector Initiatives Amongst African communities and professional groups abroad, in individual countries in Africa, and in various communities within these countries, many similar efforts with varying resources have mushroomed to promote and provide ICT services for development. Some of these have been covered in individual chapters in this volume. These in-Africa and Diaspora initiatives hold a significant promise in capacity building and innovation in deploying ICT for African development. The Task Force recognised this potential in promoting the Digital Diaspora Network for Africa (DDN-A), discussed in full in Chapter Twelve. NITPA A good example of such groups is the Nigerian Information Technology Professionals Association, or NITPA. This is an association of Nigerian high-level ICT experts and entrepreneurs around the world, primarily in the United States, who are pooling their knowledge and resources to directly intervene in building Nigeria’s ICT capacity, as well as supporting access to ICT resources, especially by Nigerian children. NITPA’s activities include networking, advocacy to help shape government ICT policy through the infusion of ideas, the promotion of entrepreneurial, consulting and investment opportunities, education, mentorship and the collection and donation of computers and other tools to Nigerian schools and school children. NITPA maintains a website:

Towards a Road Map for ICT Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 291

AFCOM and the African Telecom Summit A major platform for the promotion of ICT in Africa has been conferences, workshops, seminars and other forums, which bring the African public and private sectors as well as civil society and their global counterparts together, to dialogue on policy, strategy, markets and capacity building. Two of the most prominent of these are AFCOM (http:/// and the African Telecom Summit ( By virtue of the African public-private synergy in the ICT sector discussed earlier, African Ministers of Communications and African ICT experts consider these two annual events a must, unless compelled by extenuating circumstances not to attend. Together with the ITU Telecom Africa Regional Conference, held on an average of every two years, these constitute the main regular forums for public discourse on ICT in Africa.

The Road Map

One cannot presume to provide an overall or commanding agenda for the future of ICT for African development, except to state that the potential of maximum positive impact is high, and the prospects are good. Some suggestion, however, might be of value. Infrastructure and Access The combination of inadequate infrastructure and the high cost of building infrastructure remain a major challenge to ICT development in Africa. It is my belief that the only way to meet this challenge is a bold effort at ICT industrialisation. This will not only lower the cost of infrastructure through local manufacturing, but will also create jobs at all levels, promote the birth of support industries, encourage research and development, stimulate academic interest in ICT at all levels, and

292 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development encourage innovation and invention. This is the model that China chose, with remarkable success. This approach also enables us to derive multiple benefits from the same investment, by moving the resources through industry and technology to labour and private individual income. Technology The issue of appropriate technology has been a feature of much ICT dialogue with respect to Africa and the Developing World in general. The need to modify existing technologies or create new ones to meet the specific circumstances of demand is indisputable. The problem has been that no matter what new technologies have been offered or introduced to Africa, it has always ended up costing Africa the same amount of money for access; approximately one thousand dollars per line. This means that the obvious benefit of new technologies fails to apply when introduced to Africa. Education The most conducive environment to the internalisation of new ideas and technologies is the creation of a pervasive knowledge of that technology and its direct implications for the general population. This means that a comprehensive and innovative process needs to be designed for teaching the science and engineering of ICT and its applications at all levels of formal education. This should be backed up by public enlightenment programmes to increase public awareness of ICTs and the benefits they offer to society at large, as well as the potential downside inherent in them. Research and Development and Intellectual Property I have made the argument again and again that there can be no meaningful development without the acquisition of cutting edge capacity in science and technology. Such capacity is impossible without a parallel

Towards a Road Map for ICT Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 293

capacity in Research and Development. This logic holds true more in the field of Information and Communications Technologies than anywhere else, except in the Medical Sciences. To seek to build ICT capacity without a solid foundation of Research and Development is nothing but building skyscrapers in quicksand. Africa and its partners must find the courage to address this fundamental need as a critical sine qua non for all we strive to accomplish. Furthermore, development, especially self-development, is driven inevitably by passion for transformation, intellectual curiosity and the sense of mission that comes from a personal dream and a shared common vision. Unless Africans engage vigorously in the effort to create and own intellectual property from the process of ICT development in the continent, we will never derive a meaningful and sustainable momentum. This will put at risk all efforts made by all of us to bring about an irreversible process of possible change. The fact also that intellectual property is the quintessential asset in our contemporary economy makes the need for African participation in this venture most compelling. In this regard, we must invest in building ICT Research and Development institutions, most desirably under the auspices of the African private sector, in partnership with Government, regional institutions and academic establishments, with the sincere support of a global private sector, which itself stands to gain a lot from this investment. If the global industry has seen sufficient reason to do so in Asia and elsewhere, certainly Africa, with its potential as one of the last frontiers of highest demand for information and communications technologies, makes an even more appealing case. It is also good strategy, because as the synergy between government and the African private sector continues to grow in the sector, the vacuum created by a less than enthusiastic initiative in this area is not unlikely to force its compulsion through more strident policies and regulations. Content Development I believe that there is general agreement today that development of the capacity to create, package and disseminate content based on the

294 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development complete spectrum of African knowledge and experience, not only in craft and culture, but in literature, science, technology and medicine, and especially in children’s playthings, is a compelling priority in the best interest of all of us. Both the uniqueness of the African experience and the commonality of its human underpinnings constitute a wealth of knowledge and information with great appeal to the general global public, while constituting a source of much needed revenue earnings for Africa and Africans. Software Development and Application ICT technology is driven by software applications. To seek capacity in technology without building corresponding capacity in the development of software and applications is like investing all of one’s resources in acquiring a car, with no capacity to purchase the fuel. Africans must rapidly develop this capacity, because it is also the area in which smart people can generate incredible incomes with which to pursue their search for quality of life. Fortunately, there is beginning to be a movement in this regard, such as in the Digital Factory Initiative being undertaken by Sun Microsystems, the Telecom Africa Corporation, and the State of California Technology, Trade & Commerce Agency. The growing number of Africans engaged in software development is also encouraging. Policy and Regulation Smart and innovative policy and regulation is the key to creating an environment conducive to rapid and sustained ICT development in all societies and economies. African countries have embraced this notion with remarkable commitment. Their role, however, is much more than to simply facilitate easy market access for global ICT companies. Rather, its first role is to drive the development of a strong, versatile and flexible local and regional ICT industry, and to ensure maximum services and benefits to the people at very affordable costs. A casual observation would suggest that African regulators understand this dual obligation and are determined to evolve the appropriate strategies for managing this dichotomy.

Towards a Road Map for ICT Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 295

It is important in this regard to raise a warning flag about some of the policies and procedures, which appear to have been foisted on African regulators through well intentioned, but misguided consultant advice, especially in the process of liberalisation and privatisation of networks in Africa. In almost every case, the conditions, which African regulators are advised to impose on the process, by the very nature of being conditions which Africans cannot meet, only serve to exclude them from the only opportunities they would otherwise have to meaningfully engage in building African capacity and participation. Market Access: Capacity Building for Global Competitiveness Building capacity is of little value without the opportunity to produce ideas, goods and services from it. Similarly, producing ideas, goods and services is of little value without access to the broadest possible market. This is not just a matter of extreme importance to Africa, but should concern those in the public and private sector of the global industry as well. It is a basic assumption in free-market economies that market access must be free and mutual, however asymmetrical the capacity might be. The extent to which industry players themselves intervene in their own markets to create room for Africa’s ICT ideas, products and services, to that extent will the common interests of the partnership be protected and sustained. The growing frustration of Africans in this regard, as articulated in the various debates at the World Trade Organisation, for example, is a warning sign, which the global ICT industry must take seriously and preemptively. Regional Cooperation The compelling benefits of cooperation amongst African countries and players are self-evident and increasingly recognised. This is not only because of the benefits of the economies of scale inherent in such collaboration, but also in the need to integrate the region for the common good, and for better global competitiveness. The very essence of Information and Communications Technologies, especially its ability

296 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development to deliver products and services clear across the world in infinitesimal time, makes this eminently feasible. Global Partnership and Cooperation The global component of such partnership not only promises benefits to all parties while supporting Africa’s transformation, but also goes a long way to making the world a better and happier place for all of us. The very vision of the UN ICT Task Force and the raison d’etre of this entire volume is a testament to that. Tensions and their Remedies: New Ideas for New Circumstances In all serious efforts to bring about change, the presence of tension is inevitable. In some manner, they are important because it is in their resolution that we evolve new ideas to better address the dynamics of our new circumstances. While it might appear easier to ignore these tensions or pretend they do not exist, in deference to protocol or decorum, ignoring them allows them to fester, transforming what might have been resolved in friendly and enjoyable, even if animated discourse, into subterranean animosities, which inhibit the very definition and admission of problems begging to be solved. In order to succeed at the massive undertaking at promoting ICT for Africa’s development, candour will be important in the dialogue. We will, for example, have to understand the anxieties of the African private sector, that the very thrust of the global private-African public partnership could serve to undermine them if not properly managed. This would have to be addressed. The Future Against this background and looking into the future, one cannot but see the tremendous possibilities that a comprehensive global partnership in support of an African-owned and defined strategy for the acquisition of Information and Communications Technologies and their deployment

Towards a Road Map for ICT Development in Africa ✦ Okpaku ✦ 297

for African development promises an exciting process, which would enrich all. Africans are prepared to play their role. African leaders have declared, through the vision of the African Union and the instrument of NEPAD, that they are also ready to go. The global partnership for development has also declared its commitment and preparedness. What it takes to make a difference in ICT covers the entire spectrum of resource levels. There is always something to do with whatever one has to give, whether conceptually, materially or in kind. The African train is ready to leave the station. Our challenge is to respond to the conductor’s clarion call, “All onboard!”


United Nations ICT Task Force
ICT Initiatives for Africa

The United Nations ICT Task Force is undertaking a number of ICT initiatives in support of Africa’s development efforts, on its own and in collaboration with its partners. Some of these initiatives are listed below.
African Stakeholders Network (ASN)

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : To ensure that the United Nations-efforts to bridge the digital divide in Africa are better coordinated, more inclusive and reflective of the significant efforts already underway to develop an African Information Society.

The Digital Diaspora Network for Africa (DDN-A)
O B J E C T I V E : DDN-A has been launched to promote development in Africa with ICT applications through mobilizing the entrepreneurial, technological, and professional expertise and resources of the African Diaspora. WEBSITE:


300 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Training in Information Technology— ICT Policy Seminars for Ambassadors

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : A new training program for diplomats, focusing on computer and Internet know-how, including hardware, software, e-mail, web surfing, web design and maintenance, had its first session today at United Nations headquarters.

Global Database

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : A global web-based database of government ICT policy makers, as well as private sector and NGO ICT leaders has been built. This initiative is a step towards strengthening the Task Force’s outreach and facilitation of contacts with national decision makers.

Working Groups Initiatives ICT Policy and Governance

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : Focuses on ways to enhance the capacity of developing nation stakeholders to participate in global policymaking related to information and communication technologies (ICT) with a view to building a global ICT policy environment that would be conducive for the achievement of the potential of information technology by all countries.

National and Regional E-strategies

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : Act as a catalyst and champion for stimulating the early deployment of national and regional e-Strategies and not as an implementer or operational entity. Also, it should create synergies, linkages, cooperation and coordination among the many existing and emerging

Appendix I ✦ 301

initiatives on the ground, such as the World Bank, UNDP, UNECA, ITU, and others.

Human Resource Development and Capacity Building

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : The group is working closely with relevant United Nations agencies and other partners from the private and public sectors to promote the use of ICT for capacity-building and human resource development. A key priority of the Group is to harness ICT for education, with particular attention to overcoming existing disparities in educational and training opportunities and achievements between males and females.

Low Cost Connectivity Access

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : To facilitate a productive dialogue among potential partners to tackle these issues and to make considerable progress in this area.

Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

UN Information and Communication Technologies Task Force O B J E C T I V E : To find ways to combine the power of ICT tools with the spirit and enthusiasm of the entrepreneurs of the developing world. Working Group 5 is committed to inventing and applying sustainable information technology solutions that are appropriate in addressing the real issues and problems facing enterprises and entrepreneurs in the developing world.


ICT Initiatives for Africa

There are a growing number of Information and Communications Technologies initiatives in Africa, undertaken by a wide spectrum of individuals, organisations and institutions, in Africa and abroad. Following is a small selection of some of these initiatives. Where possible, a website address has been provided for each initiative. These websites quite often also provide information on other relevant initiatives via links to other websites.
3D technology and Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MTCs) in Uganda United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

To create a 3D and multimedia programme to help educate Ugandans about water sanitation. bestpractices/virtual_reality.shtml



304 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Acacia Initiative International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
O B J E C T I V E : To provide developing countries, particularly in Africa, the voice to shape the Global Information Society and establish the potential of ICTs to empower poor African communities. WEBSITE:

African Advisory Group on ICT (AAG-ICT)

To provide confidential high-level advice to African Ministers of Information and Communications on strategic, policy and regulatory issues and to work in close liaison with the African Connection and the African Telecommunications Union.

African Connection African Telecommunications Union (ATU)

To provide a platform for the promotion of regional markets; harmonise and co-ordinate ICT policies and develop common regulatory frameworks and drive the African efforts to make the region a full member of the global information society.

African Cultural Conservation Fund (ACCF) ICTs to protect cultural heritage

To provide support to African communities that wish to implement cultural initiatives. Programmes include Banking on Culture, Ghanaian Weavers.


African Development Bank
O B J E C T I V E : To promote telecom infrastructure projects, electric power supply projects, act as a catalyst to mobilise private capital, finance studies (RASCOM), advisory services, and ICT to reach and interact with bank clients and stake holders. WEBSITE:

Appendix II ✦ 305 African Information Society Initiative (AISI)—UNECA National Information and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) Partnership for Information and Communication Technologies in Africa (PICTA)

To build Africa’s ICT infrastructure by 2010.

African Stakeholder Network (ASN) of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TF)

To ensure that United Nations-efforts to bridge the digital divide in Africa are better coordinated, more inclusive and reflective of the significant efforts already underway to develop an African Information Society.


To promote field pilot-projects, Cyber-centres, E-government, and organise workshops on Internet awareness.

AOL Foundation

To promote AOL Foundation’s Digital Grant Initiative.

To provide public education about technology use, promote policy-making that removes barriers, and create a body of knowledge about digital divide issues.


Building Digital Libraries in Africa

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and its intergovernmental Information for All Programme (IFAP).

306 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development

To raise awareness among Africans of the availability of public information that can improve socio-economic positions as well as teach them the skills necessary to sustain the project over the long term. bestpractices/anthologies.shtml Business Endorsement of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development World Economic Forum


O B J E C T I V E : To develop best practice standards of corporate governance, help build human capital and productivity and support African governments in their efforts to achieve best practice standards of economic governance by sharing experiences. WEBSITE:

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

Geographic Info System: Mozambique, and South African Info Techno Industry Knowledge for Development.
I N C LU D E :


Carnegie Corporation of New York
P R O G R AMS I N C L U D E : International Development Program, Kenya National Library Service, Pan African Doc. & Information System, and African Research Centre for Technology.

Centre for Development Research (ZEF Bonn)

To promote ICT in low-income countries research programme (households, enterprises, and institutions).

CEO Charter for Digital Development World Economic Forum

Participating CEOs agree to target at least 20% of their annual corporate citizenship and/or philanthropy budgets to support actions aimed at promoting social, economic and educational progress in disadvantaged communities through ICT.


Appendix II ✦ 307 Cisco Systems Cisco’s networking academies

To develop human capacities in the developing world, while helping less developed countries to address the shortage of IT professionals.


Community IT Foundation (CITF), Izibuko Project

To provide schools with access to ICT infrastructure by refurbishing obsolete computers, providing relevant and empowering content through the development of a community portal, and providing appropriate training to educators and learnerships to newly qualified IT technicians. The pilot project involves the establishment of 8 fully equipped computer labs at schools in the Western Cape.

Cooperation Francaise

To promote Francophone funds for networks. Programmes include African Network for distant learning.


Creating Future Scientists

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) O B J E C T I V E : To give students an opportunity to interact with scientists and students in other parts of the world, and to allow them to share their research in the Internet-based student data archive.

Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA)

To promote Danish assistance, is concentrated on promoting sustainable development through poverty-oriented economic growth. The Government has conducted a critical review in order to focus Danish development assistance and environmental assistance to the developing countries and to make the assistance more efficient.

308 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Department For International Development (DFID)

DFID e-business strategy; and the Imfundo project—a unique partnership between DFID, Cisco Systems, Marconi and Virgin—which aims to bridge the growing digital divide in African countries. The pilot project will explore how IT can improve education, through better teacher training, raising skills levels and sharing knowledge.

Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)

To improve the living conditions and perspectives of people in developing and transition countries.


Development Gateway/Foundation World Bank

To provide users access to information, resources and tools, into which they can contribute their own knowledge and experience.

Devenir Foundation (Foundation de Devenir)

To promote acquisition of IT for local development purposes in Africa, and ensure that collective knowledge is accessible through the Web.

Digital Diaspora Network for Africa—DDNA

An initiative of the UN ICT Task Force in collaboration with Digital Partners, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), and Gruppo CERFE. O B J E C T I V E : To explore ways in which the combined knowledge, experiences and resources of the public and private sectors can be harnessed to effect positive and sustainable change in Africa. To promote development

Appendix II ✦ 309

in Africa and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through mobilising the technological, entrepreneurial and professional expertise and resources of the African Diaspora.

Digital Factory

To create capacity in Africa for the development of software and applications at global standards to support the global ICT industry and market, as well as meet indigenous continental demand, to greatly enhance the prospects of Africa’s ICT Development, not only in terms of training and capacity-building, but also in providing market opportunities for such expertise through out-sourcing, subcontracting and direct contracting with industry partners, development agencies and international organisations, and in partnership with Sun Microsystems and the Office of the Governor, State of California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency.

Digital Opportunity Initiative (DOI)

To develop a methodology and toolkit that can be reused and tailored to developing countries with diverse conditions and priorities.

Digital Opportunity Task Force (DOT Force)

A G8 initiative to enable global opportunities in ICT-K4D.

Digital Partnership South Africa

To develop access to technology, training and the Internet for learning, enterprise and development in developing emerging market economies.


310 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Directorate for International Co-operation (DGIS) (The Netherlands)

University Support Programme, International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), and Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP).
I N C LU D E :


European Commission—Information Society

To address the impact of the Information Society on citizenship, education, culture, business, and much more. Relevant European Commission programmes and initiatives, such as the Europe Action Plan, ISTweb, eContent, eSafety. eTen, IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations), the Internet Action Plan; calls related to IS programmes and activities are published regularly; Public consultations to promote dialogue with citizens; Policy aspects and regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services; and international aspects of the information society.


Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)

Community Directory Server (CDS): data collection, FAO 3D World experience: education, and WAICENT.


Ford Foundation

To promote ICT as a crosscutting theme for programming in South Africa. Programmes include the Project for Information Access & Connectivity (PIAC), in collaboration with Rockefeller Foundation.

Gauteng Online
O B J E C T I V E : To provide every learner and educator in all public schools with Internet access, e-mail and electronic curriculum delivery as well as developing a model for large-scale implementation of ICT in schools. WEBSITE:

Appendix II ✦ 311 German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development



Global Business Dialogue on Electronic Commerce (GBDe)
O B J E C T I V E : GBDe is a worldwide, CEO-led, business initiative, established in January 1999 to assist in the creation of a policy framework for the development of a global online economy. WEBSITE:

Global Development Network (GDN)

To provide policy researchers in developing countries access to financial support and data resources, and help to strengthen collaboration with their counterparts throughout the globe. Products and services are being shaped to meet the demands of research institutes in developing countries, based on informal consultations, surveys and regular systematic feedback.

GDN regional network for Africa

Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) World Bank

To provide decision-makers across the developing world with affordable and regular access to a global network of peers, experts and practitioners to share ideas and experiences to fight poverty.


Global Digital Divide Initiative (GDDI) World Economic Forum

To build partnerships between the public and private sector to bridge the divide and to make effective use of ICTs to improve lives.

312 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Hewlett Packard Foundation W E B S I T E : High-tech weather services in Africa United States Weather Service, and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)

To create a cooperative weather observer network to help the countries of Africa better prepare for drastic climate changes and avert natural disasters.


INTEL Innovation in Education

The Intel initiative “Innovation in Education” has programs that offer tools, resources and programs that aim at building communities and inspiring youth through technology.

Intel South Africa Intel Teach to the Future

To design an educator development program for pre and in-service Educators to integrate technology into learning and teaching. This is done by providing ICT equipment, software and curriculum support.

International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

to help communities in the developing world find solutions to social, economic, and environmental problems through research. Initiatives in Africa are implemented in collaboration with Bellanet and Communities and ICTs for Africa.

Appendix II ✦ 313 International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)

To finance agricultural development projects primarily for food production in the developing countries. Programmes include FIDArique and Evaluation Knowledge System (EKSYST).


International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)

To focus on knowledge sharing with local and international communities, empower local organisations in using ICTs, and help national institutions to become providers of local information and advisory services.


International Labour Organisation (ILO)
O B J E C T I V E : To promote and realise standards and fundamental principles and rights at work. Programmes include: ILOLRX and NATLEX. WEBSITE:

International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

To provide machinery for cooperation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters affecting shipping engaged in international trade; to encourage and facilitate the general adoption of the highest practicable standards in matters concerning maritime safety, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of marine pollution from ships.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)

Organisation within the United Nations where governments and the private sector coordinate global telecom networks and services. Programmes include: Valetta Action Plan (VAP): Rural development, Technologies & applications, Telecom, Private sector partnership and Human Resources, WSIS.


314 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
ITU’s Internet Training Centre Initiative International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

To help people in underprivileged countries develop the skills to function in the global networked economy.


Learning Channel Campus, Learning Channel Online

To provide an interactive educational website for learners and educators from grades 8 to 12.

Leland Initiative United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

To create an enabling policy environment and a sustainable supply of Internet services and enhance Internet use for sustainable development.

Love Life

To promote use of ICTs for sexual health/HIV/AIDS education (Call and Youth Centres, Virtual Studios).

MacArthur Foundation

To promote Global Security & System programming.

Mandatory ICT exposure

World Bank; Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports (MESYS); and a Portuguese development foundation, PROMEF. O B J E C T I V E : To evaluate and analyse ways in which ICTs can be used to improve the education and training systems in Cape Verde.

Appendix II ✦ 315 Mapping Malaria Risk in Africa (MARA)

To promote Geographic Information System-based Net-


Markle Foundation

Partner of the Digital Opportunity Initiative, Founding partner of the Global Network Readiness & Resource Initiative, sponsor Digital Opportunity Summits, and devote the Foundation only to the development of ICTs.

Microsoft Digital Bridge Programme Microsoft

To provide Microsoft software to all government schools in South Africa that give communities, schools, students and entrepreneurs the chance to develop their computer skills and take advantage of the power of the Internet.


Microsoft, Microsoft Digital Villages

To provide communities, schools, students and entrepreneurs the chance to develop their computer skills and take advantage of the power of the Internet.–403.htm


MultiChoice Africa, MultiChoice Africa Foundation-Use of ICT for Professional Development of Educators

To enhance educator development and provide greater access to quality education resources in the lesser-developed parts of South Africa, through the use of ICT.

316 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCTs) in Uganda

International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). O B J E C T I V E : To narrow the digital divide.

MTN Foundation

Focuses on Education, Science and technology, and HIV/AIDS programs.


New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and Information Society Partnership for African Development (IS-PAD). O B J E C T I V E : To accelerate economic growth and development, foster regional integration and intra-regional trade, foster market conditions conducive to the provision of affordable and reliable communication services and achieve e-readiness for all countries in Africa.


To promote networking among members to generate synergy & promote IT entrepreneurship, advocacy (government policy influence and infusion of ideas to key IT and Diaspora agenda), project opportunity, consulting opportunities, IT entrepreneurial and investment opportunities in Nigeria and the US, education, mentoring, mobilization of accessible IT human resources resident in the US for purposes of technology transfer to Nigerian institutions (including educational, commercial and Civic institutions), and excellence in IT application as a collective means for Nigerian national image-building.


Appendix II ✦ 317 Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (NORAD)

To promote access & connection, education, empowerment in NGO programmes, and support of private sector.


Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA)

To promote international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.


Open Society Foundation, Open Society Foundation Limpopo Component

To focus on improving planning and communication between schools and districts through the deployment of ICTs.


Open Society Institute (OSI) (Soros Foundation)

To promote Internet Media Program (OSI-IMP): connectivity, content, training.

O B J E C T I V E : To promote Virtual Network to link clients of a microfinance programme. WEBSITE:

RANET Project

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the African Centre for Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) O B J E C T I V E : To help marginalised communities in remote locations access and interpret hydro-meteorological and environmental information.

318 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Readiness for a Networked World: A Guide for Developing Countries Centre for International Development Harvard University (support of IBM)

An educational resource that describes the determinants of a community’s Readiness for the Networked World and a diagnostic tool that systematically examines those factors to assess a community’s readiness.

Mali Inter-Ministerial Communications Network

To link all the 23 Mali Government Ministries to the Presidency and the Office of the Prime Minister, providing facilities for Point-to-Multipoint voice, data, Internet, and video-conferencing facilities. The project is being undertaken on behalf of the Department Of Informatics and New Information Technologies, Office of the Prime Minister, Government of the Republic of Mali by Telecom Africa Corporation is collaborating with Hewlett Packard and Plessey.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund

To improve quality & accessibility of basic education for children & adults in South Africa. Projects include the Ulwazi Educational Radio Project and the Distance Project for Teacher Development.


SchoolNet SA Global Teenager Project (2002)

To promote collaboration amongst learners across the globe; train and support educators and learners to use ICT for curriculum, and provide educators with training in the Global teenager learning circles concept.


Appendix II ✦ 319 Shuttleworth Foundation, SchoolTool

To enhance admin and learner tracking, and facilitate communication between schools and DoE.

Steering Committee on Education—World Economic Forum
O B J E C T I V E : To promote effective and innovative use of information technology for education and training in the developing world. WEBSITE:

Steering Committee on Entrepreneurship—World Economic Forum

The Steering Committee is now concentrating upon two areas: conducting regional pilots to connect local entrepreneurs with organisations who can offer support and resources and creating an online resource to support entrepreneurs on the ground.

Steering Committee on Policies and Strategies—World Economic Forum

The Committee participated with 14 governments in Southern Africa on a policy exchange on the “how”, “what” and “why” of e-readiness.

Telecom Africa Corporation Global Human Resource Survey of African Male and Female Expertise in ICT

To quantify and qualify Africa’s existing globally diffused male and female ICT expertise as a strategic toolkit for driving Africa’s global development, transformation and competitiveness in the ICT sector, thereby creating a critical database fro strategic decision-making policy and access to African cutting edge expertise, wherever it may be worldwide.

320 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Telecom Africa Continental Internet Network

To create a continental Internet ISP franchise throughout


Telecom Africa Continental Telecommunications Network

To deliver direct access between countries for voice, data, Internet and multi-media capacity, as a satellite-based continental network, thereby eliminating the costly practice of transmitting intraAfrican traffic through overseas hubs.


Telecom Africa Virtual Research Laboratory

To link, with the promise of support from UNESCO, African scientific and technological research experts around the world and their global counterparts with interest in African ICT development in a secure global Intranet, thereby mobilising Africa’s global intellectual resource in ICT.


Telemedicine in LDCs International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
O B J E C T I V E : To develop a link which allows doctors in each city to confer with each other and share medical records to ensure that patients in their respective cities get the best possible care. WEBSITE:

Telkom Foundation, Telkom Internet Project (Supercentres)

To provide ICT equipment, connectivity and an intensive educator development programme to 100 schools from the original 1000 Schools Project.

Appendix II ✦ 321 The SatCom Project

To promote distance education, telemedicine, social, cultural and health development in Africa, to involve all aspects of satellite technology, as well as exploit compatible non-satellite communications technologies and applications, and to avoid becoming a vehicle for dumping obsolete technologies, equipment and applications in Africa, a practice that would further impoverish Africa as a graveyard of technological obsolescence. The SatCom Project was created primarily by the conference organisers, Terrapin, Ltd., the Telecom Africa Corporation, RASCOM, Hughes Network Systems, WorldSpace, Sentech, UNISA, the Global VSAT Forum and Mike Jensen Consulting, amongst others.


The South African Universal Agency

To promote the goals of universal service and access to telecommunications for all South Africans, which extends beyond access to basic telephony, and encompasses access to advanced services, including the Internet.


The World Project—World Bank

To help new generations learn about world cultures, encourage school-to-school project collaboration, and serve as an information channel for teachers around the world.

Thintana Communications, Thintana iLearn Project

To equip schools with computer networks (computer lab with internet access) and to facilitate an educator development programme to support teaching and learning through ICTs.

322 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Thintana Communications, Thintana MST Project

To improve and support Maths, Science and technology education in previously disadvantaged schools in South Africa

TICAD: IT Initiative for Africa
O B J E C T I V E : To contribute to the primary theme of the Tokyo Agenda for Action “poverty reductions through accelerated economic growth and sustainable development and effective integration of African economies into the global economy,” as well as emphasise South-South cooperation. WEBSITE:

Uganda Connect International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

To give students and teachers Internet access and connect rural communities through high-frequency (HF) radios.


United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS/Habitat)

To promote sustainable urbanization through policy formulation, institutional reform, capacity-building, technical cooperation and advocacy, and to monitor and improve the state of human settlements worldwide.

United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF)

To promote every child with health, education, equality and protection. Programmes include Voice of the Youth project, Sara Project, Meena Communication Initiative, and Programme Knowledge Network.

Appendix II ✦ 323 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

To promote the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. Programmes include Global Trade Point Network, Debt Management and Financial Analysis System (DMFAS), Customs reform ASYCUDA, Trade Analysis Information System (TRAINS), and Advance Cargo Information System (ACIS).

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

To promote women’s empowerment and gender equality. Programmes include WomenWatch, formal agreement UNDP/ITU, and strengthening of ICT initiatives.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDP provides a range of services to governments and to United Nations teams in the following practice areas: Democratic governance, poverty reduction, environment, ICT, Health. Programmes include Bureau for Development Policy-IT For Development Programme, Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP), regional Bureau for Africa-Internet Initiative for Africa (IIA), Web Information for Development (WIDE), Sub-Regional Resource Facilities (SURF System),, UNDP Human Development Report 2001 dedicated to Technology for Development, and Digital Opportunity Initiative.

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Cisco Networking Academies

To train students in 24 of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and provide skills necessary to build and maintain the Internet Infrastructure in those places.

324 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Initiative for Africa (IIA)
O B J E C T I V E : To assist 10 or more sub-Saharan African countries to strengthen their Internet infrastructures and services in order to accelerate socio-economic development. WEBSITE:

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

To support the economic and social development of its 53 member States, foster regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. Programmes include Development Information Division (DISD), Harness IT for Development (HITD/SiA), African Information Society Initiative (AISI), Information Technology Centre for Africa (ITCA), African Development Forum (ADF), African Knowledge Networks Forum, and Electronic Info. Exchange Networks (SRDCs).


United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

To promote free-flow of information, capacity-building in communication, information & informatics, development of local content, and telecentres. Programmes include Nakaseke Telecentres programme.


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
O B J E C T I V E : To provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of the future generations. Programmes include Global Resource Information Database (GRID), Environment and Nature Resource Information Networks (ENRIN), Environmental Information Systems (EIS), and INFOTERRIA. WEBSITE:

Appendix II ✦ 325 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

To promote refugee registration system database development to assist in family reunification.

United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)

To lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Programmes include UNIDO Exchange.


United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN ICT TF)

To bring together representatives from governments, the private sector, non-profit organisations, and international organisations, representing both the developed and developing countries, in a cooperative effort to identify ways in which the digital revolution can benefit all the world’s people, especially the poorest and most marginalised groups. Programs are included in the framework of the NEPAD Initiative. The Task Force has agreed to serve as a strategic partner in: supporting innovative ICT programmes and R&D in the field of ICT in Africa; harnessing synergies and linking the vast number of ICT initiatives both within Africa and between Africa and other continents; providing a framework for defining collaboration between NEPAD and the African Information Society Initiative.


United Nations Information Technology Services (UNITeS)

To channel the creative energies, skills and solidarity of volunteers around the world to collaborate with people in the South to improve their capacity to make practical use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in key fields like health, education, income generation, gender equity, environment or humanitarian aid.


326 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)

To promote awareness raising and capacity building activities and to assist developing countries to formulate coherent national ICT strategies and to encourage them to participate actively in the construction of the global information society.


United Nations Millennium Development Goals W E B S I T E : S U B - S A H A R A N A F R I C A W E B S I T E : Sub-Saharan_Africa.htm N O R T H A F R I C A W E B S I T E : Middle_East_&_North_Africa.htm United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

“First on the Ground” project (with Ericsson), and Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN).


United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

A guide to population information on UN system web sites to promote Population Information Network (POPIN).

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

To carry out research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. Programmes include INFOTECH (Information Technology and Social Development).


Appendix II ✦ 327 Updating Ethiopia’s education system

Ethiopian Department of Education (DoE), and USAID—Addis Ababa University (AAU), World Bank (under the World Bank’s Africa Virtual University (AVU) programme. O B J E C T I V E : To provide training for teachers and aid in the reform of Ethiopia’s primary schools as well as at university level.
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

To promote long-term and equitable economic growth and advance U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting economic growth, agriculture and trade, global health and, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance. Programmes include Africa Link, Leland Initiatives, South Africa Regional Telkom, Restructuring (RTR), Globe Initiative, RITE, and GHAI.


WHO’s Health InterNetwork World Health Organisation (WHO)

To bridge the digital divide in health.

Wind-up radios in Mozambique Freeplay Foundation

To use wind-up environment-friendly radios in order to help relay remote villages the information that could aid their safety and security.

WEBSITE: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

To help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life

328 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development and that of future generations. Programmes include Institute for Distance Education in South Africa and, in Botswana, to strengthen primary health care and nurse leadership.

World Bank

InfoDev, Global Development Network (GDN), Global Development Gateway (GDG), World Programme, Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), African Virtual University (AVU), Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), Telecommunications and Informatics Programme, Technology Network (TechNet), Softbank Emerging Markets to incubate internet-related business, and Africa Technology Forum WorldLinks for Development (WorLD).

World Food Programme (WFP)

WFP is the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global hunger. Programmes include Vulnerability Analysis Mapping (VAM) to provide food security analysis.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO Library and Information Networks for Knowledge (LINK) and its WHOLIS database, and Heath InterNetwork (with other partners).

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO)
P R O G R A M M E S I N C L U D E : Digital Agenda (to broaden the participation of developing countries), WIPONET (to interconnect 332 intellectual property offices in 171 countries), WIPO World Wide Academy (distance learning programme to increase awareness of and promote understanding of, intellectual property). WEBSITE:

Appendix II ✦ 329 Worldview International Foundation (WIF)

To promote constant application of new communication technology to endorse sustainable human development. Programmes include Smart Village, Knowledge on Demand Project, Participatory Communication for Democracy and Sustainable Development, and Mandate the Future.


World Space Foundation

To broadcast satellite audio and multimedia content to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. It was conceived of and built the first ever satellite radio infrastructure in the world. Programmes include Africa Learning Channel.


World Trade Organisation

To assist with the rules of trade between nations. Programmes include Information Technology and Basic Telecoms agreements to help promote e-commerce.


Notes on Contributors

Kofi Annan—Mr. Kofi Annan is the seventh Secretary-General of the

United Nations, and the first to be elected from the ranks of the United Nations staff. He joined the UN system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. From March 1993 to December 1996, he served as Under-SecretaryGeneral. Mr. Annan’s report, entitled “We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century”, formed the basis of the Millennium Declaration adopted by Heads of State and Government at the Millennium Summit, held in September 2000. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the United Nations received the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2001. Mr. Annan earned his undergraduate work in economics at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and a Master of Science degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Akhtar Badshah—Dr. Akhtar Badshah is the Executive Director of Digi-

tal Partners. Author of Our Urban Future, Zed Books London 1996, he has also published in numerous international journals on issues ranging from ICT and development and environmental sustainability, to cities and Architecture. 331

332 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane—Dr. Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane is

Director of the Development Information Services Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Prior to joining the UN, she was the Director General of the Institut Régional des Sciences Informatiques et des Télécommunications (IRSIT). She was also a member of the high-level Working Group established at the request of the ECA Conference of Ministers, to prepare the Africa Information Society Initiative, the blueprint for the use of information technology for development in Africa. Ms. Bounemra is a published author and member of numerous professional organisations on telematics and information technology. She earned a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, in Paris, France, and a Computer System Design Engineering degree from the University of Tunis.
David Feige—Mr. David Feige is a Program Officer at Digital Partners. José María Figueres—Mr. José María Figueres is the Chairman of the

United Nations ICT Task Force and the Managing Director of the Centre for the Global Agenda, World Economic Forum. Prior to that, he was President of Costa Rica. From 1988 to 1990, he was Minister of Foreign Trade and Minister of Agriculture. Mr Figueres earned a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering at the US Military Academy at West Point and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Law and Government at Harvard University.
Deepa Ghosh—Deepa Ghosh is a Master of Public Administration

Degree Candidate at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.
Michael Jensen—Mr. Michael Jensen is an independent consultant with

experience in over 35 countries in Africa, assisting in the establishment of information and communications systems over the last 15 years. He provides advice to international development agencies, the private sector, NGOs and governments in the formulation, management and evaluation of their Internet projects.

Notes on Contributors ✦ 333 Sarbuland Khan—Mr. Sarbuland Khan is the Director of the Division for

ECOSOC Support and Coordination of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. He directed the preparation of the Ministerial meeting of the Economic and Social Council on ICT for development and has been responsible for its follow-up in the context of servicing the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on ICT and the establishment of the United Nations ICT Task Force. Mr. Khan has held numerous positions in the United Nations for the past twenty years. Prior to joining the United Nations, he was the Director for Economic Coordination in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan. Mr. Khan holds a Masters degree in economics.
H.E. Alpha Oumar Konaré—His Excellency Alpha Oumar Konaré is the

former President of the Republic of Mali. An ardent believer in the immense capacities of Information and Communications Technologies, President Konaré is a leading advocate for their deployment in pursuit of Africa’s development. To this end, he has played a key role in developing global partnerships, culminating in hosting in Bamako, “Bamako 2000”, and international forum on ICT, and the African Regional Preparatory Conference of the World Summit on Information Society. President Konaré is the Chairman of the eAfrica Commission of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the development instrument of the African Union.
Gillian Marcelle—Dr. Gillian Marcelle serves on the UN ICT Task Force, and

has been active in the telecommunications and information and communications technology (ICT) policy arena for the past fourteen years, working in universities, telecommunication companies, regulatory authorities, and as a consultant. Dr. Marcelle recently completed an extensive study exploring technology capability building processes in developing country firms, with an empirical focus on the African telecommunications industry, as part of the requirements for the award of a DPhil in Science and Technology Policy Studies, at Sussex University. She also holds a B.Sc (Hons.) in Economics from the University of the West Indies, St Augustine and an MBA from George Washington University.

334 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr.—Dr. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr. is the President and

Chief Executive Officer of the Telecom Africa Corporation and a leading authority on telecommunications and development. A respected scholar and expert in Futures Studies and Long-term Strategic Studies, fields in which he serves as consultant, Dr. Okpaku’s academic credentials reflect the wide scope of his experience and interest. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University, a Master of Science degree in Structural Engineering from Stanford University, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Theatre History and Dramatic Literature, also from Stanford. A Nigerian, Dr. Okpaku is the author of books and numerous articles and speeches on a wide range of subjects. Nigeria: Dilemma of Nationhood, a book that he edited and wrote with friends while still in graduate school at Stanford in the late 1960s, remains a textbook for graduate studies in political science. He also edited and published the ten-volume encyclopedic work, The Arts and Civilisation of Black and African People, in collaboration with Prof. Alfred Opubor and Prof. Benjamin Oloruntimehin. As the founder of The Third Press, a leading pioneer publishing house in the late 1960s, Dr. Okpaku published books by leading African and non-African authors, including the official biography of President Gerald Ford by then White House Press Secretary, Jerald terHorst.
Emmanuel OleKambainei—Mr. Emmanuel N. OleKambainei is Chief Executive and Program Director for the African Connection Centre for Strategic Planning. Prior to that, he was Co-Ordinator (Policy and Reputation), also of the African Connection Centre. Nii Narku Quaynor—Mr. Nii Narku Quaynor is Chairman of Network

Computer Systems (NCS), based in Ghana. Prior to establishing NCS, Mr. Quaynor worked as a UNDP consultant to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, and held positions of various levels at Digital Equipment Corporation. Mr. Quaynor is currently a member of the United Nations Secretary General ICT Task Force, the African Director of ICANN, the eAfrica Program Commissioner for Internet and Software, and the Chairman of AfriNIC, the regional Internet Registry for

Notes on Contributors ✦ 335

Africa. He holds a few patents and has written articles for several publications. Mr. Quaynor earned a Masters Degree and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.
Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa—Ms. Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa was until

recently, the Chief Executive Officer of the African Connection Centre for Strategic Planning of the African Telecommunications Union. Ms. Sintim-Ampah is a Ghanaian.
Crocker Snow, Jr.—Mr. Crocker Snow, Jr. is President of The Money

Matters Institute. He is the Founding Publisher and President of World Times, Inc., and the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPaper. As a journalist, he has written numerous series and articles that have appeared in Boston, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, and has won a few awards, including, in 1968, the UPI Tom Phillips Award, as an executive producer for an 8-part radio documentary on crime. He was a Pulitzer Prize nominee for reporting from Asia for 1974 and 1976. Mr. Snow, Jr. holds a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from Harvard University.
Pekka Tarjanne—Dr. Pekka Tarjanne is the Executive Coordinator of the

United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force. He was the Vice-Chairman of Project Oxygen, Ltd., from 1999–2000 and the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for two terms, from November 1989 through January 1999. Prior to joining the ITU, Dr. Tarjanne was the DirectorGeneral of Posts and Telecommunications in his native Finland, and before that, the Minister of Transport and Communications. Dr. Tarjanne holds a Ph.D. degree from the Helsinki University of Technology.
Justin Thumler—Mr. Justin Thumler is the Managing Director of Digital

Partners. Before co-founding Digital Partners, he consulted for Microsoft Corporate Affairs and worked in the financial sector as an investment banker.
H.E. Abdoulaye Wade—His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade is President of

the Republic of Senegal, after being elected to a seven-year term in

336 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development March 2000. He has worked as an international consultant for the Organization of African Unity, the African Development Bank and other multilateral institutions, and is a member of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. President Wade is also the Founder and current Secretary-General of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), and is a widely acclaimed lawyer, mathematician and economist. President Wade earned a teacher’s diploma in 1947, and between 1950 and 1959, he attended the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, before enrolling in the Law Faculty of the University of Besançon, as well as the University of Grenoble, France. He holds degrees in Applied Mathematics, Law and Economics. President Wade was awarded the French Legion of Honour. He has written several articles on economics, law, and political science.


A Good Life, 141 AAG-ICT, 18, 33, 42, 289, 304 ABC, 142 see also Australia Broadcasting Corporation ACCT Survey, 64 ACEN, 40 ACTIS, 40 ACT-NET, 40 ADF, 131–134, 324 see also African Development Forum Aerospace Corporation, the, 218 AFCOM, 291 AFRALTI, 167 Africa BDD Agenda, The, 193 AFRICA CYBERMARKET, 41 Africa digital rights vision, 175, 191 Africa’s development partners, 287 Africa’s leadership, 287 African Address Registry, 181, 198 see also AfriNIC African Advisory Group on ICT, The, 32–33, 42, 289 African Advisory Group on Information and Communications Technologies, 18, 32–33, 42, 289 see also African Advisory Group on ICT African Connection Centre for Strategic Planning, 18, 161, 334–335 African Connection Initiative, The, 45, 156–157, 161 African Connection Program, The, 18, 157–158, 334 African Connection Secretariat, The, 161, 173

African Connection, 18, 32–33, 45, 47, 72, 77, 151, 156–161, 172–173, 289–290, 304, 334–335 African Connection, Mission and Objectives of the, 157 African Day, 139 African Development Agenda, 107–109, 111–113, 115, 117, 119, 121, 123, 186 African Development Forum, 131–132, 134, 324 see also ADF African Genius, 12, 116–117 African Habitat Professionals, 238 African ICT experts, 7, 18, 27, 33, 149, 203, 220, 288–289, 291 African Information and Communications Technologies Firms, 152, 251, 272 African Information Society Initiative, the, 72, 126, 132, 136, 138–139, 142, 150, 304–305, 324–325 see also AISI African Intellectual Property, 191, 196 African ISP Associations, 198 see also AfrISPA African Knowledge Network Forum, 133 see also AKNF African leaders, 11, 13, 38, 111, 297 African Learning Network, 133, 307 African Regional Network, 27 African Regional Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on Information Society, 31, 118 African Self-Development, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13–15, 17, 19, 21 African Stakeholders Network, 91, 137, 149–150, 299 see also ASN African Technical Advisory Committee, The, 136 see also ATAC


338 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
African Telecom Summit, 291 African Telecommunications Union, The, 32–33, 156–158, 290, 304, 335 see ATU African Training and Research Centre in Administration for Development (CAFRAD), 105, 124 African Union, 23, 32–33, 36–37, 43, 73, 111, 156–158, 269, 286, 290, 297, 304, 333, 335 AfricaOnline, 70–71 Africa’s Digital Rights, 175, 177, 179, 181, 183, 185, 187, 189, 191, 193, 195, 197, 199, 201 Africa’s March of Progress, 123 Africa’s Millennium Goal, 14 Africa’s Problems, 106–107, 120, 208 Africa’s vision, 44, 110–112, 120, 175 AFRICASHOP, 41 AfriNIC, 181, 183, 198–199, 202, 334 see also African Address Registry AFRISHARE, 27, 235 AfrISPA, 198 see also African ISP Associations AfriStar, 62 Afsat, 73 AHTIS, 40 AI-AIMS database, 145 AIDS, 28, 95, 125, 146, 171, 200, 235, 314, 316 AISI Briefing Papers, 142 AISI Radio Series, 140–141 AISI, 72, 77, 125–128, 132, 136–138, 140–143, 147, 150, 156, 305, 324 see also African Information Society Initiative AKNF, 150 see also African Knowledge Network Forum Akwule, Raymond, 288 Alcatel, 32, 265, 305 Amoako, K.Y., 125 Anais Network, 49–50 Annan, Amma, 288 Annan, Secretary-General Kofi, 14, 17–18, 21, 47, 80, 87, 286, 331 Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASIC), 200 Application, 89, 109, 128, 186, 200–201, 226, 230, 234, 244, 252, 273, 294, 316, 327, 329 applications and software development, 12, 30, 294, 309 ASN, 91, 137, 139, 143, 184, 299, 305 see African Stakeholders Network AT&T, 265, 281–282, 288 ATAC, 136, 150 see also African Technical Advisory Committee ATU, 32, 156–159, 304 see The African Telecommunications Union Australia Broadcasting Corporation, the, 142 see also ABC

Badshah, Dr. Akhtar, 19, 223, 331 Bamako 2000, 51, 53–54, 132, 333 Bamako 2002, 31, 131–132, 135, 139, 148 Bamako Declaration, 132 Bande, Tijani Muhammed, 105 BDD, 178, 186, 193, 201 Bellanet, 34, 77, 143, 145, 150, 312 Bichara, Khaled, 246 Bits per Capita indicator, 142 brain-export, 167 Bridge the Digital Divide Program, 178 Brown, Ernest, 202 Bureau for Telecommunications Development (BDT), 31, 34 bush connectivity, 242, 247

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 142 Canton of Geneva, 49 Capacity Building, 31–32, 35, 89–90, 102, 117, 124, 129, 133, 140, 168, 201, 212, 214, 216, 231, 283, 290–291, 294–295, 301, 326 Ceesay, Ebrima, 289 cellular base stations, 63 CEO Charter for Development and Business Endorsement, The, 44 CEO Charter for Development, The, 25 Channel Africa, 62, 329

Index ✦ 339
Chassia, Henry, 202 cheetah-pole-vault, 151, 156, 168 China, 113, 116, 176–177, 212, 215, 292 Chissano, President, 144 Cinderella Syndrome, The, 208 Cisco, 81, 133, 140, 265, 307–308, 323 Civil Society Initiatives, 28 Clarion Call, The, 206–207, 297 Columbia University African Studies Department, 71 Communication Programme, The, 140–141 Comtel Project, The, 32 conducive environment, 1, 5, 74, 287, 292, 294, 300 Content, 8, 12, 31, 41, 51, 62, 70–71, 88–89, 102, 128–129, 135–136, 153, 157, 160–161, 164–165, 170, 187, 189, 191–192, 194, 199, 201, 233, 235, 246–247, 273, 293, 307, 317, 324, 329 Cooperation, 26, 31, 38, 40, 49, 54, 69, 72, 77, 88, 91, 98, 103, 141, 145, 147, 156, 158–159, 191, 295–296, 300, 307, 311, 313, 317, 322, 324 Countries of Mutual Interest (COMI), 160 Coupet, Charles, 288 cross-border rural connectivity programs, 169 Cyberville, 82 development process, 2–4, 6, 8–9, 11, 16, 45, 52, 96, 99, 108, 128, 135, 141, 212, 259–260, 293, 297 Development, new definition of, 1, 6 Diagnostics, 110 Dialogue, 16–17, 50, 91, 99, 103, 108–109, 111, 131, 134, 149, 218, 291–292, 296, 301, 310–311 Digital Bridge to Africa Workshop, 26, 228 Digital Bridge to Africa, 26, 177, 221, 223, 225, 227–229, 231, 233, 235, 237, 239, 299, 305 Digital Bridge, 26, 92–93, 177–178, 203, 205, 207–209, 211, 213–217, 219, 221, 223, 225, 227–229, 231, 233, 235–237, 239, 299, 305, 308, 315, 327 Digital Bridge, Building the, 203, 205, 207–209, 211, 213–217, 219, 221 Digital Diaspora Network for Africa, The, 223, 226, 237, 290, 299, 308 see also DDN-A Digital Diaspora, 27, 44, 223, 226, 237, 290, 299, 308 Digital Divide, The, 20, 25, 45, 55, 80–81, 92–93, 98, 124, 142, 156, 172, 177–178, 190, 201, 204–208, 210–211, 213, 219, 221, 238, 241, 243, 245, 247, 249, 299, 305, 308, 316, 327 Digital Factory, The, 30, 119, 216, 294, 309 Digital Illiteracy, 92 digital inclusion, 93, 142 digital marginalisation, 93 Digital Opportunity Task Force, 24, 96, 99, 102, 309 Digital Revolution, The, 17, 81, 84, 87, 89, 325 Digital Rights Principles, 178, 190 Diop, Mouhamet, 202 dotAfrica TLD, 199 Dream Digital Bridge, 219 Durban, 23, 111 dynamics of nation-building, 107 Dzidonu, Clement, 202

Dandjinou, Pierre, 202, 289 DATAFRICA, 40 DDN-A Supported Projects in Africa, 233 DDN-A, 27, 223–224, 226–228, 231–233, 235–237, 290, 299 see also Digital Diaspora Network for Africa Department for International Development, 141, 308 Development as Problem Solving, 106 Development Assistance, 6, 8, 104, 122, 267, 307 Development Industry, 7–8, 11, 20, 30, 200, 306, 309

340 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development

E-Academy, 233 eAfrica Agenda, 178, 187–189, 192 eAfrica Commission, The, 17, 175, 178, 180–181, 187, 192, 199, 333 217 see also e-Africa Commission e-Africa Commission, The, 33, 38–39, 41–44, 159, 206, 217 see also eAfrica Commission eAfrica Program Commissioner, 175, 334 eAfrica Vision, 175, 184–185, 189, 196, 202 E-Agriculture, 171 ECA, 19, 27, 51, 77, 125–127, 132–143, 145, 148, 150, 324, 332 Economic and Social Council, 53–54, 88, 333 see also ECOSOC Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), 19, 51, 72, 90, 125–126, 137, 141, 324, 332 Economic Community for Central Africa States (CEMAC), 129–130 Economic Community for Western Africa States, 130 see also ECOWAS economic-haves, 186, 245, 248 ECOSOC, 18, 38, 47, 52, 54, 88–89, 95, 333 see also Economic and Social Council ECOWAS, 130, 150, 159 see also Economic Community for Western Africa States E-Culture, 21, 124, 221 E-CUSTOMER AFRICA, 40 Education, 10, 25, 28–29, 37, 40–41, 50, 52, 58–59, 80, 83, 91, 93, 95, 103–104, 113, 129, 133, 135, 146, 148, 156, 159, 164, 166, 168, 186, 190, 200, 224, 233, 242, 290, 292, 301, 305, 308, 310, 312, 314–319, 321–322, 325, 327–328 e-enablement, 178, 247–248 Egosangwa, Roselyn, 241–242, 249 e-Government, 103–104, 129, 163, 169, 305

E-HISTORY AFRICA, 41 e-Initiatives, 101 E-JUSTICE AFRICA, 40 Empowerment, 14, 27–28, 89, 95, 152, 156, 178, 184, 201, 211, 217, 228, 230, 237, 317, 323 E-Schools and E-Health, 170 ESMT, 166 e-store, 81 e-Strategies, 25, 89–90, 102, 143, 300 Ethiopia, 57, 65, 69, 74, 90, 128, 134–135, 139–140, 327 Evolution of the Digital Divide, The, 177

FCC, 289 FDI, 152, 282 see also foreign direct investment Fifty-sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 85, 221 Figueres, José María, 18, 80, 332 Ford Foundation, 310 foreign direct investment, 152, 254–256, 282 see also FDI Four Foundations Partnership, the, 133 Future, The, 47–48, 72, 82–83, 88, 109–110, 120, 207, 224, 246, 286, 291, 296, 312, 324, 329

G8 Africa Plan of Action, The, 24 G8 Digital Opportunity Task Force, The, 96, 99 G8 Dot Force, 25, 77, 91, 148, 206, 309 G8 industrial countries, 23 Gambia, 57, 65, 78, 289 Gamtel, 289 Gateway Project of the World Bank, 27 GBDe Steering Committee, 103 Genoa Plan of Action, 102 George Mason University, 288 Ghana, 57, 61–62, 65, 71, 74, 128, 135, 139–140, 183, 236, 252, 269, 291, 334 GIIC, 103 GKP Strategy 2005, the, 139

Index ✦ 341
GKP, 138–139, 149, 310, 328 Glob@lNet, 246 Global BDD Agenda, 186 global community, 36, 149, 168, 171, 180, 287 Global Competitiveness, 92, 118, 124, 211, 295, 319 Global Dialogue, The, 50 Global Digital Divide Task Force, 25 Global Digital Opportunity Initiative, The, 25 Global Human Resource Survey of African Male and Female Expertise in ICT, The, 35, 210, 215, 319 Global Information Infrastructure Commission, 103 global Internet, 18, 179, 195 global Intranet, 36, 320 Global Knowledge Conference, The , 51, 138 Global Knowledge Partnership, The, 145 Global Partnership, 25, 31, 39, 42, 145, 217, 286, 296–297, 310, 328 Global Policy, 25, 87, 187, 189, 191–192, 194–195, 300 Global VSAT Forum, The, 29, 321 Globalisation, 19, 35, 43, 96, 133, 171–172, 220, 281 Globalisation, The Essential Principles of, 220 GMPCS, 158, 164 governance, 10, 13, 20, 25, 59, 80, 89–90, 93, 97, 112, 118, 133–135, 142, 146, 153, 166, 169, 186, 212, 224, 300, 306, 323 Government-on-line, 169 Gruppo CERFE, 27, 224, 237–238, 308 GSM Association, The, 269 Guy Olivier Segond, President, 49 Hughes Network Systems, 29, 265, 321 Human capital, 187, 196, 306 Human Resource Development, 24, 29, 90, 166–168, 301

IBM, 218, 318 ICANN, 18, 139, 194, 198, 334 iConnect Africa, 137, 140–141, 145 ICT and Administration, 114 ICT and Modernisation, 114 ICT and Self-Development, 113 ICT cities Initiatives, 170 ICT deployment, 11, 27, 114, 191 ICT Focus Group, 131, 134 ICT Media Award Programme, The, 142 ICT Priority Areas, 200 ICT toolkit for Africa, 159 ICT Vision for Africa, The, 184 ICTs in Mali, 141 IDRC, 34, 77, 133, 135, 140, 142, 150, 282, 304, 312, 316 IETASK FORCE, 194 IIA, 288–289, 323–324 see also Internet Initiative for Africa IICD, 140–142, 150, 310, 313 India, 30, 113, 116, 167, 177, 216, 226, 238, 282 Indian-ethnic organisation, 226 Info-communication, 45, 151–153, 155, 157, 159, 161, 163, 165, 167, 169, 171, 173 Information and Communications Divide, the, 45, 219 information flows, 96, 181, 272, 276 Information Technology Centre for Africa, the, 133, 140 Info-structure, 177, 181, 187, 189, 191, 196, 198 Infrastructure, 9, 12, 24, 31, 37–39, 41–42, 58, 61–63, 66, 72–73, 80, 82, 85, 89, 97, 99, 103, 119, 126–130, 132, 135, 138, 142, 147–148, 151–155, 157–158, 161–166, 177, 187–189, 191, 196, 198, 255, 291, 304–305, 307, 323, 329

Heads of State Implementation Committee, 17, 37, 39, 42 HealthNet Uganda, 234–235 Hewlett-Packard, 81 Horizon Map, The, 8

342 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
ingenuity, 28, 287 Interconnection to the Global Internet, 179 International Development Research Centre, the, 142 International Institute for Communication and Development, the, 141–142 International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 18, 31, 249, 335 Internet and Software Development, 191–192 Internet and Software Laws, 199 Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, The, 139 Internet Domain Names and Addresses, 181 Internet Exchange Points, 74, 164 Internet Initiative for Africa, 288–289 see also IIA Internet Measures, 178, 181 Internet Revolution, The, 50 Internet Troubadours for Africa, 288 Internet, 15, 18, 28, 41, 49–57, 60, 63–71, 74, 76–77, 81, 89, 92–93, 113, 118, 133, 137, 139–140, 142–143, 153–155, 164–166, 170, 175, 178–181, 183–184, 187, 189, 191–192, 194–202, 209, 216, 228, 233–235, 241–242, 244, 246–248, 288–289, 300, 305, 309–310, 314–315, 317–318, 320–324, 332, 334 IP standards, 194 Ipv4 address space, 181–182 ITCA, 133, 140, 150, 324 ITU African Regional Conference, 32 ITU World Telecommunication Development Report 2002, 77–78 ITU, 18, 31–32, 34, 77–78, 124, 135, 150, 157, 194, 215, 221, 291, 301, 313–314, 316, 320, 322–323, 327, 335 IXP, 164 Johannesburg Summit, 124 John, K.J., 202 Johnson, Ellen Sirleaf, 288

Kagame, President, 144 Kerby, Richard, 288 Khan, Sarbuland, Dr., 18, 95, 333 Kiswahili language, 233 Knowledge, 2, 5–8, 11–17, 20, 28, 31, 50, 52, 54, 72, 77, 79, 82, 87, 91–93, 98–99, 102, 112, 118, 126, 131–132, 136–145, 148–150, 152, 156–157, 159, 165, 167–168, 171–172, 178, 184–188, 190–191, 193, 196, 200, 202, 205–206, 208, 225, 231, 242, 257, 286, 291–292, 299, 304–305, 310, 316–317, 324–326, 332–333 Knowledge-Based African Renaissance, 14, 19 Knowledge-based Economy, 38, 88, 168, 202 Knowledge-Based Empowerment, 14 knowledge-based global environment, 203, 220 knowledge-based self-development, 13–14 Konaré, President Alpha Oumar, 17, 38, 47, 54, 131, 333 Ku-Band VSAT, 64, 73 Kyushu-Okinawa Summit, 102

La Case des Tout-Petits, 83 LDCs, 7, 157, 160, 320, 323 Leadership and Governance, the role of, 20 leap-frog, 151, 156 Least Developed Countries, 7, 323 Leland Initiative, The, 53 Leland, Mickey, 289 Leyland Initiative, 289 LinkdotNet, 246 Local Area Networks, 64 Loutfy, Yasser, 241–242, 246–247, 249

Jensen Consulting, Mike, 29, 321 Jensen, Mike, 18, 29, 55, 321

Index ✦ 343

MacArthur Foundation, 314 MailAfrica, 70 Mali, 17, 31, 38, 47, 53–54, 57, 62, 65, 69, 74, 118, 128, 131–132, 134, 140–141, 318, 333 Manufacturing, 12, 39, 116, 119–120, 167, 170, 177, 190, 215, 252, 256, 258, 262–263, 283, 291 MAP, 8, 20, 53, 77, 138, 142, 285, 287, 289, 291, 293, 295, 297 Marcelle, Dr. Gillian M., 251 marginalisation, 89, 93 Market Access, 37, 80, 153, 294–295 Markle Foundation, 25, 159, 202, 315 Matsepe-Casaburri, Dr. Ivy, 33, 289 Mayanja, Meddia, 242 McElvane, Roxanne, 289 Medical Sciences, 293 Mentorship Programme, 218 Meyer, Mathew, 244–245 Microcredit, 104 Microsoft, 81, 83, 209, 236, 289, 315, 335 MIGA, 160 Millennium Declaration, 43, 88–89, 331 Millennium Development Goals, 14–15, 95, 97, 99, 101, 103, 191, 238, 286, 309, 326 Millennium Partnership for African Recovery Programme, the, 138 Millennium Summit, 14, 88–89, 95, 286, 331 Ministerial Oversight Committee, The, 32–33, 289 Ministers, 18, 32–33, 72, 126, 130, 133, 136, 138, 157–158, 173, 288–289, 291, 304, 332 Modisakgosi, Edward, 117 money motive, the, 27, 243 Monitoring the Digital Divide, 177 Mozambique, 25, 57, 65, 71, 78, 126, 128, 134–135, 140, 144, 306, 327

National Information and Communications Infrastructure, 72, 126–127, 142, 305 National Information Technology Council, the, 138 National Public Radio, 142 Nation-Building, 107, 122 NEPAD ICT Projects, 39 NEPAD Implementation Plan, 39 NEPAD, 17, 23, 26, 33, 36–39, 41–45, 73, 79–80, 82–85, 91, 105, 110–111, 120, 124, 138, 147–148, 150, 156, 158–160, 175, 206, 217, 286, 297, 316, 325, 333 Network for Africa, 216, 223, 226–227, 237, 290, 299, 308, 311 New African Initiative, The, 80, 138 New Partnership for Africa’s Development, 17, 23, 26, 36, 44–45, 79–80, 83, 85, 110, 138, 158–159, 206, 286, 306, 333 see also NEPAD NGO, 28, 58, 61, 66, 129, 152, 235, 300, 317, 332 see also Non Governmental Organisations NICI Maps and Graphs, 142 NICI, 72, 77, 126–129, 140, 142–144, 150, 305 Niger, 57, 66, 69, 74, 78, 126, 129, 140 Nigeria, 21, 37, 39, 57, 66–67, 69, 183, 202, 214, 234, 236, 290, 316, 334 Nigerian Information Technology Professionals Association (NITPA), 290, 316 NITC, 138 Non Governmental Organisations, 92 see also NGO NORAD, 135, 140, 317 Nortel, 218, 265

OAU, 23, 31, 37, 80, 111, 157 OECD, 56, 69, 283 offline security, 243 Ohiorhenuan, John, 288 Okinawa Summit, 204

National ICT strategies, 97, 137, 140, 326

344 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
Okpaku, Sr., Ph.D, Dr. Joseph O., 1, 20–21, 23, 45, 105, 124, 203, 221, 285, 288, 334 OleKambainei, Emmanuel, 18, 45, 151, 334 OMEGA Plan, the, 138 OosyNet, 133 Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, The, 142 Opportunities, 4–7, 13, 17, 21, 24, 30, 53, 59–60, 84, 91–93, 96, 99, 120, 122, 131, 141, 147, 152–154, 159, 163, 172, 186, 203, 205, 208, 217–219, 223–227, 230–231, 244, 249, 262, 272, 290, 295, 301, 309, 316 Oracle, 289 ORBICOM, 177 Orbicom-CIDA Project, 2002, 177 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 69 Organisation of African Unity, 23, 80, 157 Ouedrago, Pierre, 202 Out of Africa, 51, 142 Out of School Youth Network, 133 Owerri Digital Village, 234 Ownership of Problems, 4, 20, 106–107, 123–124, 221 PATU, 32, 156–157 PDCA Cycle, The, 193 PeopleLink, 61 PICTA, 77, 91, 136–137, 141, 143, 145, 149–150, 305 Plan of Action, 24, 43, 90, 102, 132 Plan-Do-Check-Action Cycle, The, 193 Plessey, 118, 265, 318 points of presence, 56–57, 68 Policy, 10, 12–13, 17–18, 25, 31–33, 35, 41, 53, 58, 82, 87, 89–90, 93, 96, 103, 118, 120, 125–126, 128–129, 132–133, 140, 142, 144–147, 149–150, 153–154, 158–163, 168–169, 187–189, 191–192, 194–195, 199, 255–257, 259, 277–278, 280–282, 290–291, 294, 300, 304, 310–311, 314, 316, 319, 322, 327, 333–334 PrepCom 1, 132 problem solving, 2–5, 8–9, 106–107, 207, 239 Problem-Dependence, 204 Problem-Solving, The Metamorphosis of, 205 Public Telephone Operators, 63

Quaynor, Dr. Nii Narku, 18–19

PAG-NET, 40 PanAfrican Governmental Network, 40 Pan-African Initiative on e-Commerce, 133 Pan-African Telecommunications Union, 32, 290 Partnership and Consultation Mechanisms, 136 Partnership for Global Policy Participation, The, 25 Partnership for ICTs in Africa, 77, 91, 141 Partnership for Information and Communications Technologies in Africa, The, 136

Radio Netherlands, 141 RASCOM Satellite Project, The, 32 RASCOM, 29, 32, 304, 321 Re-definition of Development, 1 Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation, 32 Regional Bureau for Africa, 288, 323 Regional Cooperation, 88, 147, 159, 295 Regional Internet Registries, 181, 202 Regional Nodes, 90 Regulation, 31, 39, 130, 142, 146, 158, 166, 294, 313 Regulator, 35, 211

Index ✦ 345
Regulatory Authority, 31 Regulatory Matters, 31 Renaissance, 5, 12, 14–15, 19, 207 Republic of Mali, 17, 38, 47, 54, 131, 318, 333 Research and Development, 10, 12, 29, 33, 36, 115–116, 119–120, 142, 167–168, 215, 291–293, 316 Resource Mobilisation, 11, 37, 90, 136 response capacity, 5–6, 10 right of ownership of problems, The, 4 Road Map, 20, 285, 287, 289, 291, 293, 295, 297 Rockefeller Foundation, 310 Root Server, 139, 199 Roselyn Egosangwa, 241–242, 249 rural connectivity tool-kits, 169 98–102, 104, 126, 129–130, 132–133, 137–139, 143–144, 148, 156–157, 159, 162, 164–165, 168–170, 172, 194–199, 206–209, 216, 219, 229, 237–238, 243, 286–287, 290, 299–301, 303–304, 310, 312, 323, 325, 327 SMEs, 28, 134, 186, 200, 209, 218 SMME development, 163 Snow, Jr., Crocker, 19, 45, 241, 335 social upliftment, 178 Social Venture Fund for Africa, The, 27, 228–229 Social Venture Fund for South Asia, the, 229 Software Development, 12, 30–31, 119, 175, 191–192, 197–200, 216, 294, 309 Software, 12, 30–31, 38, 64–65, 70, 89, 116, 119, 153, 166, 170, 175, 178, 187, 191–192, 195–201, 216, 234, 236, 252, 261, 263, 270–271, 273, 294, 300, 309, 312, 315, 334 Soltane, Karima Bounemra Ben, 19, 125, 332 South Africa, 29, 31, 33, 37, 56–57, 59, 61–63, 66–69, 71, 74, 78, 105, 124, 142, 150, 155, 157, 164, 177, 183, 252, 266–269, 289, 309–310, 312, 315, 318, 322, 327–328 Southern African Development Community, 26, 130 Southern African Economic Summit, 26 South-South Partnerships, 217 Special Report for United Nations ICT Task Force, 241 Specialised Governance Networks, 118 State Council, 49 State of California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency, 30, 119, 216, 294, 309 Strategic Partnerships, 11, 98, 238 strategic response, 4, 10, 285 Summit of the African Union, 111 Sun Microsystems, 30, 119, 216, 294, 309

SABC, 62 SADC, 26, 130, 150, 159 Safm, 142 SatCom Africa 2002 Conference, 29, 45 SatCom Project, The, 29, 45, 321 SATELLIFE, 234–235 SCAN-ICT, 135, 137, 140 SchoolNet, 133, 158, 248, 318 SDC, 138–139, 141 Second International Conference on Electronic Commerce and Intellectual Property, 20, 124, 221 Secretary-General of the United Nations, 14, 17–18, 47, 87, 286, 331 SEL Process, The, 229–230 Senegal, 17, 21, 37, 39–40, 42, 57, 62, 64, 66, 69, 71, 74, 78–79, 81–83, 126, 134–135, 140, 148, 150, 166, 177, 217, 335 Sentech, 29, 321 Shope-Mafole, Lyndall, 202 Siemens, 218, 265 Sintim-Misa, Mavis Ampah, 18, 151, 173, 335 Smart Subsidy, 10, 19, 21, 24–25, 27–31, 33–37, 39, 42–45, 49–50, 53, 88, 91,

346 ✦ Information and Communications Technologies for African Development
sustainable development, 9, 52, 92, 96–97, 101, 139, 147, 149–150, 159, 162–163, 165–166, 196, 247, 307, 314, 322–323, 329 Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the, 138 Swiss Cooperation for International Development, the, 141, 145 TRASA, 31, 130, 159 Tyson, Diane, 288

U.S. Federal Communications Commission, 289 see also FCC UEMOA, 130, 150 Uganda, 27, 57, 61–62, 66, 69, 74, 129, 135, 140, 164, 234–235, 242, 247–248, 252, 267–268, 303, 316, 321–322 UN ICT Task Force Initiatives, 91 UN ICT Task Force, 17–19, 23, 25–26, 34, 36, 43, 87, 89–91, 99, 101–102, 104, 137, 149, 159, 215, 237, 280, 296, 305, 308, 325, 333 UN Member States, 89 UN Millennium Declaration, 43, 89 UNDP Human Development Report 2001, 77, 223, 323 UNDP, 25, 34, 45, 77, 150, 176, 202, 215, 223, 288–289, 301, 322–324, 326, 334 UNESCO, 61, 77–78, 83, 135, 150, 215, 247, 303, 305–306, 316, 320, 324 UNFIP, 27, 224, 238, 308 Unicode, 194, 199 UNIFEM, 27, 224, 237–238, 308, 323 UNISA, 29, 321 United Nations Agenda for the Development of Africa, 37 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 25, 34, 45, 77, 150, 176, 202, 215, 223, 288–289, 301, 322–324, 326, 334 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 83, 303, 305, 316 United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, 27, 224, 238, 308 United Nations ICT Task Force, 16, 18, 44–45, 87, 89, 91, 93, 96, 102, 148, 206, 224, 237, 241, 286, 299, 332–334 United Nations Millennium Summit, 14, 95

Tarjanne, Pekka, 18, 87, 335 Task Force Secretariat, 18, 137 TCB system framework, The, 253, 258 Technology Transfer Processes, 254–255 Technology Transfer, 157, 198, 251, 253–255, 257–262, 264, 266, 274, 279–283, 316 Technotrons, 115 Telecom Africa Continental Telecommunications Network, 216, 320 Telecom Africa Corporation, 1, 18, 23, 29–30, 34, 105, 117–119, 203, 210, 214, 216–218, 220, 285, 288, 294, 318–319, 321, 334 Telecom Africa Virtual Research Laboratory Project, The, 36, 119–120, 215, 320 Telecom Africa Vision, the, 218 Telecom Africa, 1, 18, 23, 29–30, 34, 36, 105, 117–120, 124, 157, 203, 210, 214–220, 285, 288, 291, 294, 318–321, 334 Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Southern Africa, 31 TELEMEDICINE, 29, 40–41, 134, 320–321 Telkom S.A., 32 Tension, 296 Terrapin, Ltd., 29, 321 Tesfaye, Sarah, 289 Tevie, William, 202 Thumler, Justin, 19, 335 Tijani Muhammed Bande, 105 Tiscali, 81

Index ✦ 347
United Nations, 14, 16–18, 25, 27, 37, 43–45, 47, 53–54, 83–85, 87–89, 91, 93, 95–96, 102, 124, 139, 148, 176, 203, 206–207, 217, 221, 224, 226, 237–238, 241, 249, 268, 281, 286, 288, 299–301, 303, 305, 308, 313, 316, 322–326, 328, 331–335 Universal Service Funds, 164 Universities, 83, 93, 232, 235, 244, 277, 333 University of the African Future, 83 UN-NADAF, 37 US Agency for International Development (USAID), 133, 140, 150, 159, 289, 314, 317, 327 utilities, 9, 165, 219 Web-Sat, 73 Wibisono, Ambassador, 47 Wikyo, Benson, 244–245 WIPO, 20, 124, 150, 221, 328 Wisdom, 20, 113, 115, 203, 208 Working Groups, 90, 137, 237, 300 World Bank Poverty Site, 176 World Bank’s InfoDev program, 133 World Economic Forum, 18, 25–26, 44, 91, 102, 206, 218, 306, 311, 319, 332 World Health Organisation, The, 134, 235, 331 World Health Organization (WHO), 143 World Intellectual Property Organisation, 124, 328 World Radio Network, 142 World Summit on the Information Society, 31, 91, 131, 159, 171, 333 World Trade Organisation, 295, 329 World Wide Web, 61, 93 Worldlink, 158 WorldSpace, 29, 62, 321, 329 WSIS, 91, 131–132, 150, 159, 172, 313

Value inherent in problems, 4 VarsityNet, 133 Virtual Research Laboratory, 36, 119–120, 215, 320 virtual security guards, 60 Vision for Africa, 44, 110–111, 175, 178, 184 Vision for Information Freedom, 175, 201 Visual Identification Technology, 117 VIT, 117 Vortex of SMEs, The, 209 VSAT, 29, 64, 73, 164, 321

Youth for Technology Foundation, Nigeria, 234

Zormelo, Mawuko, 202

Wade, President Abdoulaye, 17, 21, 39, 42, 79, 85, 217, 335 WATRA, 31, 130

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.