by Milton Louw
First, I wish to address our understanding of ICT and how we can integrate it into our governance systems and also our daily lives. I have struggled to find a term for this and the best I could find was “Progress through Technology”, or in German, “Vorsprung Durch Technik” .
Information Communication Technology policy covers the Telecommunications, the Radio-TV and the Internet and are critical at that moment with two issues: access and civil liberties. Africa is the continent with the least access to the ICTs even if every had already access to Internet; it is a need to redefine sectoral policies, regulations and boundaries institutions.
In this post, I am going to address two main issues: the need and role of ICT policy in Africa, and the relationship between Internet and human rights. The landscape of ICTs probably is the fastest growing sector ever experienced with any medium or any transformative technology.
“He is as useless as a dog” this was part of a Facebook post by a young Kenyan photographer on the wall of a Kenyan politician, Mr. Lewis Nguyai. The Facebook post has since led to the photographer’s arrest and may ultimately result in a defamation suit. Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) which was set up after the post election violence in 2008 to “promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful coexistence between persons of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in Kenya” claims that they received 60 complaints in February 2012 regarding defamatory comments made about individuals on social media web sites. In most countries defamation is entrenched in local laws and mostly predicated on Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees legal protection against “attacks upon … honour and reputation”.
Information Communication Technologies (ICT’s) are increasingly used by government agencies across the African continent with a view to making their service offerings more widely accessible. E-governance is widely considered a powerful and effective tool in the fight against corruption which it achieves by increasing transparency, efficiency and greater accountability of Government officials.
ICT policy in Africa: a lot still to be done
In this blog I argue that there is a critical need for ICT policy in Africa because ICT policy in Africa is in many respects closely linked with overcoming the digital divide. Both private investors and increasingly, public donors are not yet ready to invest in countries without a proper institutional and legal environment for internet development.
It is amazing to note the growth of ICT in Africa. Truth is that growth is measured in many ways and my measurement is based on the African environment. Many countries in Africa with exception of a few face the same challenges i.e. lack of infrastructure, poverty, education levels, unemployment to mention but a few.
Last year events in North Africa and the Middle East showed how ICT and media may have an impact on the future of people and countries. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt was successful mainly thanks to social media.
ICT Policy in critical need of attention in Africa
ICT’s potential for political, social and economic transformation of society is not contested and Africa is exploding with a desire to be connected to the rest of the world more than ever. There is evidence that many countries on the continent are investing in ICT in order to reap the benefits.
Information Communication Technologies (ICT) continues to play a leading role in driving economic growth and development. They have been earmarked for attributes such as increasing efficiency, creating access to new markets as well as giving the voiceless a voice. ICT usage continues to grow in Africa, most notably has been the increase in mobile telephony and internet usage.