China plays an active role in the information and communication Technologies (ICT) sector, where its experience should be shared, the secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (UIT), Hamadoun Toure, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.
The UIT chief made these remarks on the sidelines of the 14th summit of the African Union (AU), which is being held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with a theme of "ICT in Africa : Challenges and Opportunities for Development."
"China has been a very important partner in ICT sector and there are good lessons that we can learn from the Chinese experience," Toure noted.
He affirmed that there are "three big companies including Huawei, ZTE and ChinaMobile which have shown good examples not only to the African continent, but to the entire world in the ICT matters."
He went ahead to express his satisfaction with the fact that China is willing to cooperate with developing countries in the domain.
Regarding the ICT development in Africa, the UIT head said it was satisfactory since the rate of mobile telephone penetration in Africa was now standing at 40 percent, and this, he noted, was the highest growth in the world.
"There are still challenges to overcome in the area of Internet usage," he said, but he was quick to add that these are challenges which should be turned into opportunities.
He congratulated African countries for having made commitments on the development of ICT, making reference to the theme of this summit, which is devoted to discussions on the issue by heads of state and governments and representatives of AU member countries.
Toure said the new services created by the ICT could come to the aid of other sectors like education, commerce, health and governance through the digital technology, which will speed up the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
He was optimistic that the summit will end up with positive results.
UIT is a UN institution specialized in the information and communication technologies. Being a center for global convergence where public and private sectors meet, UIT helps the world to communicate in three main areas: radio communication, normalization and development.
UIT, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, has 191 member states with more than 700 associations in the industry.
The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), with the support of leading U.S. and African corporations, and senior level representatives from American and African government agencies, will host its 4th U.S. – Africa Infrastructure Conference at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C., April 27 – 29, 2010.
Themed “Building Dynamic Growth in Africa,” this year’s conference will focus on key sectors ripe for U.S. investment, including information and communication technology, alternative energy, and human security. The effects of climate change on Africa will also be a focus. Another primary focus will be project financing. During the conference, company representatives will have the opportunity to interact with funding entities, and learn about available instruments for project finance in the specially designed “Deal Room.”
“CCA’s U.S. – Africa Infrastructure Conference has an exceptional record of attracting key decision makers and featuring informative and thought-provoking sessions,” said Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of CCA. “This year’s conference will provide global business and government leaders with the latest blueprint on infrastructure investment return with some of Africa’s most promising sectors.”
Immediately following the World Bank spring meetings, the three-day conference will include industry-specific sessions, networking opportunities, and a special dinner in honor of the African ministers of finance and central bank governors. The sessions will be led by U.S. and African business and government leaders whose expertise stems from their own successful engagements and ongoing ventures in Africa.
Parties interested in more information on the conference should visit www.africacncl.org.
THE Inspectorate of Government has cleared the controversial sh200b Government internet project. The project, which consists of three phases, involves building a 2,100km fibre optic cable network.
Ultimately, it is meant to link Uganda to the submarine cable on the East African coast and provide faster and cheaper internet access.
The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Raphael Baku, gave the go-ahead in a letter to ethics minister Nsaba Buturo earlier this month.
Last August, President Yoweri Museveni had tasked Buturo to oversee the investigations into complaints raised about the project.
Baku explained that the project was being implemented by the time the complaint was registered with his office. “The complaint which was raised was whether the second phase should go on,” said Baku.
“We saw no problem with it if the damages (on the first phase) could be repaired concurrently.”
The IGG argued that the Government would incur more costs if it cancelled the project.
Baku also said the ICT minister did not have the capacity to monitor the implementation of the project, which led to the shoddy work.
The IGG clearance comes after the parliamentary committee on ICT issued a directive to suspend the second phase of the rpoject.
The committee vice-chairperson, Paula Turyahikayo, said they had not seen the IGG report but would hold a joint meeting with the ICT ministry and the Auditor General on the way forward.
The Auditor General in a December report found several anomalies in the implementation of the project and questioned if there was value for money.
The national transmission backbone infrastructure and E-Government infrastructure is a $106m (sh201b) project, funded by a concessional loan from the export/import bank of China.
The first phase was meant to provide connectivity to Government ministries and departments at a total cost of $30m (sh57b).
The second and third phases were meant to connect all major towns, covering 1,900 kms at a cost of $61 million and $15 million respectively.
However, investigations found that the selection of the contractor, Huwaei Technologies, was done without competitive bidding and no price comparisons were done to ensure value for money.
“By not subjecting the proposal to proper evaluation, the ministry exposed itself to the risk of high pricing and unfavourable contract terms,” read the Auditor General’s report.
The audit found that the cost of the project was inflated. The 24 core optic cable was quoted by the contractor at $3,200 (sh6m) per kilometer.
However, in a technology brief to the board of the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda, the price of the cable was quoted as $1,400 (sh2.6m) per kilometer.
In addition, the audit found that the 24 core cable is of lower capacity than what private companies such as MTN and the Government of Rwanda laid at a much cheaper rate. It also questioned the capacity of 24 core cables to meet the under-water bury standards.
The audit further found that there was poor supervision of the project and that key implementation guidelines were not adhered to.
According to the report, the cables were placed too close to the road. Also, the depth was less that the recommended 1.5 metre and the distance from the middle of the road was found to be less than the 15 metres recommended.
There were also serious delays in the project, the Auditor General noted. Implementation of the three phases was supposed to be completed in 27 months, or by January 2009.
“However, 38 months later, the first phase, originally to be implemented in six months, has not been fully completed.” The delay is expected to lead to further administrative costs.
Already, the company has claimed $2.2m in additional costs for repairs on the first phase. The permanent secretary of the ICT ministry argued that the damages occurred after the hand-over of the network and could therefore not be covered by the insurance.
But the Auditor General observed that there was no independent assessment of the extent of the repairs, and there was no evidence that the contractor had actually obtained an insurance cover.
Former ICT minister Ham Mulira, under whose tenure the deal was sealed, has defended the huge cost of the project.
He said factors must be considered such as terrain, geographical coverage, fibre capacity to meet the potential demand based on the size of the population, and the cost of civil works.
On the size and capacity of the 24 core cable, as compared to that of MTN of 48 core and Rwanda of 90 core, Mulira argued that once the fibre is laid, the traffic capacity can be increased by changing the devices that send the traffic.
From: New Vision
Jeremy Waterman, MD, Softline Accpac says that in his view the local ICT industry has proven that it will not be a victim of the recession and as a result, views 2010 optimistically.
"We are starting to see renewed interest in ERP and CRM systems from the mid-market. Companies which traditionally take longer to make decisions now realise that they have to reinvest in technology and are looking to implement modern systems to improve efficiencies and become more competitive," says Waterman.
He says 2009 saw many of the bigger software vendors take their eye, and budgets, off Africa despite the potential of this burgeoning market: "When international budgets are cut, Africa is often a casualty. For us, Africa is always priority. We have grown and nurtured this market for over 25 years and believe in its potential today as much as we did in the Eighties. I believe next year (2010) will see continued growth up into Africa."
2010 is a big year for the company as it is launching new versions of all its flagship products Sage Accpac, Sage Erp X3, Accpac CRM and SalesLogix.
"I don't believe we will see enormous change but rather steady growth. The channel will need to ensure it spots opportunities as and when they arise and are ready to assist with a hassle-free implementation," concludes Waterman.
Some stakeholders in the ICT industry believe Ghana has the potential of leading Africa in ICT evolution and development.
The government has already initiated moves to make the country the continent’s ICT hub with several relevant plans.
This includes the establishment of ICT-Parks in the country beginning with Tema.
In furtherance to this, some local ICT companies are also expanding their operations to other African countries and one of such is Omatek Computers, a computer assembling company. Though the company has its headquarters in Nigeria, the Board Chairman of the company and also a Former Communications Minister, Benjamin Aggrey Ntim says the plans to export assembled computers from Ghana to other African countries shows Ghana’s preparedness to lead in the development of ICT in Africa.
Mr. Aggrey Ntim, in an interview with Citi Business at the sidelines of the tour by representatives from Malaysian Open University to the factory of Omatek computers disclosed that Omatek already has the ability to produce up to 300 desktop, notebooks and laptop computers daily.
Meanwhile, the President of the Accra Institute of Technology, Prof. Clement Dzidonu also believes Ghana has made significant strides in ICT development.
He implored ICT related companies to focus on capacity building for maximum impact to ensure that ICT is sent into homes, schools and universities.