A total of 42 African countries and 13 American and European countries yesterday saw Africa speaking with one voice re-electing the secretary general of the African Telecommunications Union secretary General for a fourth Term Mr Abdoulkarim Soumaila and re aligning the overall ICT policy for the continent, during the recently the recently held African Telecommunications Union in Harare.
Officially opening the conference, The Vice President of Zimbabwe Joyce Teurai Ropa Mujuru advocated for the African Technological growth while commending the great strides made so far, While Zimbabwe`s ICTPS minister Hon Webster Shamu also shared some opening remarks
By Marshal Saonga
Hon Mujuru hoped for the ATU to achieve its objectives that would be set to allow the organization to meet the purpose of its membership. She stated that she looks forward to ATU member countries agreeing on one member as Secretary General so as to avoid dilution of the credibility of the vote.
She acknowledged the importance of the availability of information and knowledge by stating that “having those two is a key competitive advantage to the nations”. She further went on to say that the centrality of communications enables interaction of businesses, communication and engage their governance.
Vice president praised the progress that Zimbabwe has had in the past years up-to-date with an increase from 2 million mobile lines to over 13 million lines, “this is a 400% increase in the telecommunications industry and it’s the biggest growth compared to any industry in the country” the vp said. This increase came from all the mobile network operators namely Telecel, Africom, Netone and Econet, all of these mobile network operators have increased their operations and gained a great number of subscribers.
The telecommunications industry is at its boom and serves as an opportunity for investors to start looking at and taking advantage of, this was explained by Vice President when she said we must harness the growth in the ICT to enhance socioeconomic development in African countries.
According to the Vice President the world bank and ITU have conducted a research which shows the growth of the ICT has been co-realated to the growth the economies.
The vice president spoke of the diversification of the introduction of ICT which brought forward the e-learning, e-health, e-agriculture and e-governance has helped to enable the citizens to be positioned citizens to actively participate in and advance national economies. She highly spoke of Ict as an integration tool but stated that we must be mindful of the same progression in the ict in order to secure and maintains the benefits.
The increase of requirements for broadband infrastructure in rural and urban areas was touched on by the vice president speaking on the ATU’s engagement at ensures smooth transmission to digital broadcasting. It is evident that ICT policy Regulation and harmonization has to be prioritized to achieve sub regional and regional integration of telecommunication infrastructure services markets and tech standardization.
Vice President envisaged for the assistance of land locked countries to access landly points of undersea sub marine cables broadband services at a reasonable cost. This was pertaining to the high cost of obtaining the service by countries which have sea and ocean cable networks for broadband. She called for there to be ICT cross broader infrastructure with regional frameworks to reduce cost of broadband in the landlocked countries.
“This will denie landlocked countries to participate in the global economic discourse , the vice president stated”.
The vice president spoke of the importance of the need to have Africa develop Internet Exchange Points (IEP) to keep internet traffic within the African region to improve the quality of service and save money.
The issue of security in the socio economic transformations of the highly fast moving broadband use was addressed by the vice president when she encouraged African countries to grow in their preparedness to face cyber threats by enhancing response of cyber threats amongst ourselves. The increase of technical cooperation in itc administration and training institutions to protect our consumers was also spoken of with cooperates children and other vulnerable persons are at risk and measure of personal data protection are imperative in need of security.
She mentioned the Smart Africa Manifesto which was indorsed in Adis Ababa in Jan 2014 by all heads of state in Africa at the 22nd , praising the initiative as a innovative approach to accelerate sustainable socio-economic growth and development in Africa . She encouraged for more healthy competition by broadband service providers because of the current prevailing situations where the prices are too high to access internet. way to ensure affordable broadband services in Africa.
The Vice President stated the expectations which she hoped for , which were
• Improved physical access of broadband to the unconnected
• Pathways to affordable access for all when it comes to broadband to the rural dwellers, urban areas, poor, illiterate and those with special needs be it physical (blind and impaired).
In closing she stated that Zimbabwe will work with the ATU for the success of its endeavors to meet the general expectations of our people.
In closing she wished for fruitful deliberations and a pleasant and memorable stay in Zimbabwe.