Nº 2 2014 > ITU’s Connect the World initiative
Connect Africa Summit
First in the series, the Connect Africa Summit, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, on 29−30 October 2007, framed the Connect Africa programme around five goals, to ensure that Africa makes the most of broadband and ICT opportunities. To help achieve these goals, which reflect the challenges and opportunities in the Africa region, major pledges totalling some USD 55 billion were announced during the summit.
A variety of follow-up actions has already been implemented, with beneficial effect. For example, the landing of submarine cables has reduced communication costs. Also, the expansion of regional fibre networks and national backbones has increased the penetration of mobile broadband services.
The mobile industry has invested more than USD 20 billion, despite the global financial difficulties since the summit.
ITU has implemented a USD 6 million project on the Harmonization of ICT policies in Sub-Saharan Africa (HIPSSA).
With support from the Korea Communications Commission, the Republic of Korea, and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, guidelines and national road maps for Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Mali have been produced for the migration of television broadcasting from analogue to digital.
ITU has worked in partnership with the relevant governments and institutions to implement multipurpose community centres in rural areas, and is now partnering with Nokia Siemens Networks to connect villages. Connect a School Connect a Community projects are under way in partnership with the Government of France, and more than 60 schools in Africa have been equipped with ICT and Internet connectivity.
Smart Africa Manifesto
In October 2013 the Government of Rwanda and ITU co-hosted the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, to evaluate progress in implementing the Connect Africa goals and to leverage achievements.
Heads of State and Government present at this summit adopted the Smart Africa Manifesto in which they committed themselves to providing leadership in accelerating sustainable socio-economic development through affordable access to broadband and information and communication technologies (ICT).
Smart Africa is a bold and innovative approach to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development in Africa through affordable access to broadband and appropriate use of ICT. The initiative will help Africa realign its agenda to address contemporary challenges by harnessing emerging mobile and broadband technologies.
Introducing the manifesto, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, challenged African leaders to check their understanding of the power of ICT. “Do we believe that ICT are a central part of the things we need to consider in overall transformation, and not just a single entity? Do we understand the full dimension of ICT and the importance of ICT in supporting and driving progress and success in other sectors?” he asked.
A novelty of the manifesto is the prominence given to the private sector. African leaders agreed to put the private sector first. They reaffirmed the unique ability of the private sector to increase investment, drive job creation, increase productivity and foster innovation.
Subsequently, on 30–31 January 2014, the Smart Africa Manifesto was endorsed by all Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This places the manifesto at the heart of the ICT agenda in Africa.