Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, ITU , Dr. Hamadoun Toure in this interview spoke on the relevance of the forum to African continent and what his organization is doing to bridge the digital divide between Africa and the developed world. Hi-Tech’s Emmanuel Elebeke was there.
Enjoy the interrogation:
Looking at the theme of this conference African ICT Best Practices Forum 2010, what would you say is the implication of this forum to Africa?
The implication of this forum to Africa is that, as you may know, the ICT has been growing in the continent of Africa with the first decade of the millennium dominated by mobile telephony.
The second decade will be dominated by broadband and mobile broadband, particularly. Therefore, we need to make sure that all governments are working together particularly in Africa, to do the right thing in a complementary manner with the private sector.
How best could the government and private sector respond to this in order to make it more purposeful?
Government’s role is to regulate and legislate, while the private sector is to provide services, which must be complementary to that of government. We can then capitalize on the gain made from the mobile sector to make it happen for the broadband as well. At ITU, we actually want to make sure that broadband penetration in Africa reach every nook and cranny of the continent. At the moment, we are reaching our target in terms of bridging the digital divide in telephony.
How are you relating this efforts to the MDGs?
We are tying the broadband growth to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the development of the local content. That is: e-health; e-government; e-education among others.
Those are the only way we can meet the MDGs and therefore, we are trying to do the right thing to make sure that ICT come in and play its role efficiently.
How optimistic are you in achieving this objective?
We are very optimistic because this is one industry where the key ingredient is human brain. that is one natural resource that is equally distributed everywhere. No nation or culture has more or less. That is why we are prevailing on our leaders on the need to invest on capacity building in training our people. and therefore, when we do it right, we are going to be at the same level with any country in the world or even better.
Could you be specific when you talk about capacity building?
I mean capacity building on software development. When you take the areas like software development in Africa, you will notice that Africa is moving very fast. we are trying in developing software. software is a tool for survival, and we are developing it on daily basis. If we can concentrate on software development, we will be more successful than any other country in the world.
There are real opportunities in software, but we must build on it and advance on it to make it happen.
But Sir, do you see African leaders thinking in this direction, going by the observation that already made solution thrills us a lot?
Yes, there are quite a group of African young leaders who have dreams to achieve this., and they are actually dreaming big for their people. They are fulfilling their vision. Therefore, you can see that there is a lot of opportunities for us to build on ICT in this decade, so that vision 20 2020 can really be achieved and make the African continent a shining star.
Given the opportunities you have mentioned, we understand that there are also some threats in terms of Cyber Crime and other related activities. Beyond this event, what do we expect in that area?
We hope to se the opportunity for more investment in ICT. In terms of Cyber security issue, it is a global phenomenon, and can be tackled by global solution. To do this, we must work together, put a global security agenda, intellectual promos and also put up international and multilateral partnership against Cyber crime threat. That is the only way we can make impact. this is why we crated intellectual property right protection in order to help a global collaboration.
President Compaore Blaise of Burkina Faso, our host for this conference is one of the co-sponsors of security agenda of the ITU along with his Costa-Rican counterpart. We really have a very good opportunity. President Compaore has been taking the lead in his own country and has been helping us around African continent. This is why in January this year, the summit of Heads of States in Africa took ICT as a theme, the first time African Heads of States were meeting with a developmental theme, drawn from ICT.
The same thing with good happening, and after this summit I don’t think things will remain the same again. We will be more organized and make sure that every country criminalize crime and also work in collaboration with others.