African leaders are urged to work together to address the challenges facing the implementation of information & communications technology (ICT) on the continent.
Etienne Sinatambou, minister of ICT in Mauritius, told delegates to the African ICT Leaders Summit organised by ForgeAhead, that it is essential that African countries stand together and contribute towards one another's success.
In addition, he says, African governments need to recognise the key role that ICT can play in boosting their economies by helping to increase knowledge, skills and innovation.
"Africa is known to have experienced 5%-8% average growth for the last 10 years – but the fact is that we still lag behind Asia. The engine for growth in those counties has been the use and usage of ICT.
"I believe Africa has got to move forward – we cannot ignore these key facts."
Minister Sinatambou points out that ICT has a dual role: as an industry in its own right; and as an enabling tool.
"ICT as an enabler of competitiveness will enable us to get out of poverty. We have to start looking at ICT as an engine for development."
Mauritius has recently become the first African country to enable free ADSL connectivity to all secondary schools.
Minister Sinatambou believes that once African leaders acknowledge the challenges facing the implementation of ICT across the continent, they can start work on overcoming them.
He believes the challenges are: developing a knowledge economy; access to ICT; ICT infrastructure requirements for the continent; empowerment and self-determination; and innovation and job creation.