ForgeAhead hosted the 7th SADC ICT in Government summit in Mauritius from
29 -31 May 2008. The summit was organized to bring together key ICT decision
makers to robustly discuss how ICTs can help achieve the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs).
Attended by ministers, CIOs, key ICT decision makers, NGO's in both private
and public sectors and members of the media the summit interrogated
e-Government initiatives in order to enhance service delivery in SADC
Minister of IT and Telecommunications, Minister Etienne Sinatambou of
Mauritius was the key note speaker and said that our economic survival in
today's technology-driven world undeniably depends on our ability to
effectively use and adapt ICT in our socio-economic sphere. He said that the
'digital revolution' brought about by ICT has the power to transform all
aspects of public sector, individual and collective lives to create new
forms of economic growth and social development.
He went on to say that ICT is the ultimate vehicle leading to an effective
e-government model providing organizational and process structures that
favour efficiency and citizen satisfaction in conformity with local
conditions and development stages. With the help of ICT, business processes
can be reengineered to cater for specific user needs and hence ensure
effective service delivery.
With a strong focus on ICT knowledge sharing for capacity building, thought
leadership and best practice case studies were presented as well as
workshops of real ICT issues. At the end of the summit a declaration was
drafted outlining key outcomes and suggestions on how to implement change
and finding champions to drive it.
David Ives, from Microsoft South Africa – the knowledge partner – said that
the company hopes to spawn a new generation of African technology start-ups
and accelerate skills development by opening at least four new Microsoft
Innovation Centres (MICs) in Africa over the next two years – including two
in South Africa.
"The new MICs, which act as economic 'spark plugs' for local innovators and
the local software industry, will provide an estimated 6 000 businessmen and
women per year with the technology they need to start up businesses or
further their careers.
"The two new local centres will supplement South Africa's existing MICs, at
SmartXchange in Durban and the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering
(JCSE) in Braamfontein.
"These new MICs will provide a huge boost for skills development in the
local technology industry by providing world-class facilities and support
programs in innovation, intellectual capital, technology and business skills
for start-ups, software developers, IT professionals, government and
universities," he said.
Microsoft is further stepping up its skills development efforts by expanding
its S2B job enablement programme, which helped more than 1 000 graduates
find jobs in its first year in South Africa. S2B helps local companies to
find and hire technology students, and provides the necessary certification
to qualified candidates enabling them to participate in the technology
economy and helping to fuel new growth and innovation at local companies.
The common thread for all the participants was the desire and commitment to
using ICTs to contribute to realizing sustainable development in all areas
of human endeavour and especially in the achievement of the MDGs for the
African continent. With six years left to the next milestone set for
measurement of the progress made by Africa in this regard. The continent is
way behind in its progress and ICTs can assist in closing this gap.
Some key outcomes from the summit include the critical need for Africa to
join the rest of the world as an equal partner in the framework of actions
and choices for socio-economic development; the need to Initiate and
implement ICT projects that are both sustainable and relevant to the
region's challenges; the need to harmonise ICT policies and develop a
regional e-strategy as well as the need to develop distributing channel of
technology (e.g. computers) and re-invest capital back into the society.