Cyber cities central to African “renaissance”

The Director of the Ghana Cyber City project has said that such cities will take on great importance within the Africa tech scene, given that the continent is “undergoing an unprecedented renaissance.”

Erik Osiakwan, addressing the AITEC East Africa ICT Summit in Nairobi, Kenya last week, said that innovation on the continent was increasing every day and that projects such as his own and the likes of Konza and Tatu in Kenya ideally placed to harness that innovation.

“Innovation centres are creating an environment for the creation of technology,” he said. “Over the next fifty years we are going to see African companies going global. But we need the ecosystem.”

The Ghana Cyber City was proposed in 2005 by the Ghana Cyber Group, a Business Process Outsourcing company founded by Yaw Owusu. Costing US$40 million, the city is designed to facilitate incubation of innovative firms, manage outsourcing ventures and create 5,000 jobs in five years. It will also contain a data centre.

The city will be designated a free zone so as to offer tax incentives.

Osiakwan called for Africans to take advantage of the opportunities springing up around them and take their ideas across the world.

 “The next frontier is reinventing Africa,” he said. “We need to move from consuming technology to creating technology. We need to see Africa’s Google, we need to see Africa’s Facebook.”

 “The next generation needs to be able to live in a better Africa.”

Osiakwan is a leading figure in African technology, having played a role in the founding of the African ISP Association, Ghana ISP Association and FOSSFA. He has supported the establishment of companies such as Novica.com (West Africa), Internet Research, BusyInternet, InHand, PenPlusBytes, and consults for the World Bank, Soros Foundation, UNDP, USAID and various African governments.

Other attendees at the conference, however, sounded a warning that there was still much to be done before Africa could really consider itself to be a tech powerhouse.

Bitange Ndemo, Kenya’s permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications, said that governments needed to keep up with the fast-paced changes.

“Things are changing so fast that we need to find a new way of policymaking,” he said.

He also asked Kenyans to be more ambitious when it came to technology, saying that rather than seeing themselves outperforming the likes of neighbours Somalia they should be looking at the likes of Singapore and striving to reach that level of development.

Posted in: Internet

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