Counting the gains achieved ahead of Africa’s ICT week

The Africa ICT Week kicks off next week from November 26 to 30, in line with implementation of resolutions reached at the World Summit of Information society held in Tunis, Tunisia in 2005.


Themed “Promoting Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance through ICT, this year’s Africa ICT week is meant to provide a platform for creating awareness about the opportunities, challenges and benefits derived by adoption of ICTs in Africa.

The summit recognizes the important roles played by ICT in Africa and provides a constant reflection of the gains Africa has made in harnessing ICTs to realize knowledge-based economy.

Internet users in Africa remain low — estimated at just about 15.6 percent or 167.3 million users, according to internetworldstats.com. East African region is said to have achieved much since the Tunis summit with the level of Internet access having increased exponentially following the landing of the submarine cable. Kenya leads usage with 28 percent, Uganda 13 percent, Tanzania 12 percent, Rwanda 7 percent and Burundi at 1.7 percent.

Over the same period, Internet usage in the education sector is reported to have increased. According to a research by the Centre for Public and Social Research International, East African universities were highly utilizing ICT.

In improving freedom to information, youths in the region have embraced social media in communicating diverse topics. This has in turn improved information dissemination and encouraged open thinking.

Outside the East African community, freedom of expression through social media has been curtailed especially in Ethiopia where the use of Internet-based voice communication has been criminalized.

Migration from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting is also underway with almost all countries projected to beat the 2015 deadline. Kenya and Tanzania are however the only countries fronted as likely to beat the region’s deadline having set the target for migrating at December 2012.

This has however not gone without hitches with Kenya having missed its earlier target of July 2012. In Uganda, the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) is in court protesting an alleged breach of contract by the Uganda communications commission.

On improving the populations ICT knowledge, a  number of states in the region have included ICT training as part of their curriculum with some having set aside a computer for schools. Kenya’s the Ministry of Information has also initiated a 1 million  laptops campaign among other projects in the region.

A number of incubation hubs have also been put up in various countries to help produce skilled labor such as software developers.

However, even with increase in ICT usage, various challenges have emerged with cybercrime on the rise across the region. Local banks, for example, are said to have lost billions of shillings from Internet fraudsters.

The Internet presence is also viewed as quickly eroding the cultural and moral fibre of the continent in general with little content developed by the region despite the increased broadband.

Local investors have also complained that although jobs and opportunities have been created, many are likely to disappear with foreign investors as local investors lack the knowhow to enter the sector and are faced with financial constraints.

The continent will therefore celebrate the achievements achieved thus far with a lot on their minds on how to conquer the emerging challenges in the sector especially on the security and investment front.

Posted in: Internet

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