African states vow to expand ICTs on the continent

22Aug 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
African states vow to expand ICTs on the continent

Africa has committed to increase investments in information and telecommunications technologies (ICTs) to ensure the continent reaps from the benefits of the sector, in the wake of the growing global digital space.

The newly elected African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Secretary General John Omo, from Kenya addressing delegates at the 5th Ordinary Session of the ATU conference in Nairobi last week.

This is under the “Nairobi Declaration” made at the 5th Ordinary Session of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the African Telecommunications Union, held in Kenya last Friday.

African Telecommunications Union (ATU) member states declared their common desire to develop and expand telecommunications, information and telecommunications technologies throughout the African continent “in order to consolidate the advancement and realization of the social and economic development of the people of Africa.”

This came as the member states committed to the Constitution and Convention of the Union and its objectives.

According to the ATU, ICTs are key to Africa’s development and economic competitiveness in the attainment of the African developmental goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We acknowledge that ICTs have the potential to impact positively and sustain development at both national and continental levels. Additionally, it reduces the social and economic differences and the widening gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” at the individual, national and regional levels as well as the glaring gender divide,” the ATU secretariat said in the Nairobi Declaration.

The union acknowledged that available and affordable internet is a prerequisite for sub Saharan Africa to participate in the digital economy, emphasizing the significance of the spread of ICTs in order to benefit humanity, achieve transition in the human activity and enhance social interaction among people in their daily lives, thus contributing to increased confidence in the future.

The Union said it remains committed in its role in the development of ICTs on the continent, and its role in guaranteeing Africa’s singular voice at international forums in matters relating to ICTs.

“We reiterate the significance of Union’s role in the development of the ICT infrastructure on the continent, including the many activities in networks and services,” ATU said in a statement.

It has called for close relationship between the Union and the African Union, the significance of their full cooperation, mutual support, and their integration in the field of ICTs as well as the regional and International organizations, and other specialized institutions in this field.

“We the Plenipotentiaries of the African Telecommunications Union (the Union) convening in Nairobi, the Republic of Kenya, on 17 August, 2018, pledge to support the Union Strategic Plan as well as those of Member States on the African continent,” the declaration reads in part.

“Further pledge to work together with the private sector, academia, civil society, regional and international organizations as well as development partners and all stakeholders to reinforce Africa’s efforts in harnessing the benefits technologies to bring about the digital transformation that can accelerate sustainable development,” it says.

Under the declaration, ATU and its members have committed to maintain assessment and follow up on the progress in bridging the digital gap, taking into account the steps already initiated towards the achievement of the African Union Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals.

This includes evaluation of the impact of investment in ICTs and the international cooperation endeavors in building Africa’s digital economy.

“We further commit ourselves to provide all support and encouragement and the possible assistance to the Union, and to meet all our obligations, vis-à-vis timely payment of contributions, to enable it to effectively and fully realize its aims, goals and objectives,” states the Nairobi Declaration.

It seeks to enhance the full access to ICTs, at low cost irrespective of place, to guarantee the equitable distribution of ICT services for the benefit of communities, and to bridge the digital divide while creating digital opportunities for all.

Going forward, the continent will witness mobilization of human and material resources to increase the use of ICTs for the purpose of development, in order to achieve the agreed plans to build the digital economy on the African continent.

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