ICT revolutionising development in Africa

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) innovations are delivering home-grown solutions in Africa, transforming businesses, and driving entrepreneurship and economic growth, says the World Bank and African Development Bank.

This was contained in a joint report published by the two financial institutions with the support of African Union.

A statement issued by the World Bank on Tuesday said “eTransform Africa”, the Transformational Use of ICT in Africa, provides new data on the technological revolution that is taking place in Africa and its transformational impact on the continent’s development.

It noted that at the start of 2012, there were some 650 million mobile subscriptions, making the African mobile telephony market bigger than the EU and the United States.

The statement said some 68,000 km of submarine cables and more than 615,000 km of national backbone network have been laid, greatly increasing connectivity across Africa; making the Internet bandwidth available to Africa’s one billion citizens, which had grown 20-fold since 2008.

“The Internet and mobile phones are transforming the development landscape in Africa, injecting new dynamism in key sectors.

“The challenge is to scale up these innovations and success stories for greater social and economic impact across Africa over the next decade,” the statement it cited Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region as saying.

It said the eTransform Africa report emphasised the need for the building of competitive ICT industry to promote innovation, job creation, and boost the export potential of African companies.

The report identified best practices in the use of ICT in eight key sectors as agriculture, under in which the Kilimo Salama scheme in Kenya, is providing crop insurance for farmers, using the M-PESA payment gateway and helping them to better manage natural hazards such as drought or excessive rainfall.

The statement cited climate change adaptation in Malawi where a deforestation project is training local communities to map their villages using GPS devices and empowering them to develop localised adaptation strategies by engaging communities.

It said the report mentioned the use of telemedicine in the health sector in Mali; which is helping to overcome the lack of trained healthcare workers and specialists in rural areas, specifically the IKON Tele-radiology programme.

“This report not only sheds light on the path Africa is already on, but also encourages continued creative thinking in how to utilise ICTs to benefit more Africans,” the statement said. GNA

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