The future socio economic development in African countries depends grossly on our African states to be able to enhance fully the strength and capacities of existing ICT infrastructure especially the Internet which over the last decade in Africa has stimulated economic growth, social awareness and above all more transparency and accountability that has aided a number of best practices around Africa in terms of good governance..
The recent political upheaval in North Africa last year showed how important social media websites have become important in African countries as citizenry have been able unequivocally express their views and hold their governments accountable from issues ranging from political change, corruption to accountability to name a few. All these have happened based on one single common denominator, “The Mobile phone”, this single device through the efforts of mobile telecommunication companies that have invested and reaped millions in Africa within the last decade have revolutionized the way Africans conduct themselves. The possibilities of majority of African citizenry to be able to access information online and capture events, relay market reports via the mobile phone has really made strides that have redefined the way African governments conduct themselves.
It is based on the above that it’s hard to think of any African country, which have yet to adopted / or begin initiation of an ICT policy or restructure their existing ICT policy to reflect the changing dynamics of time. African countries have come to realize the need to develop a well defined set of ICT policies, that not only addresses infrastructure development and issues that stem from content, accessibility, scalability and sustainability, but an ICT policy that is entrenched in the day to day lives of their citizenry, Based on the above it is not far fetched to see why ICT policies needs critical attention in Africa, as our leaders trying to join the bandwagon of being Open and creating avenues through various e governmental development strategies through ICT’s, have failed to realize it needs a bottom top approach. This should start from community level through local authorities who should be able to use ICT policies to improve the daily lives of their communities. As tremendous increases in Internet bandwidth reaches unprecedented levels in Africa through the various fibre optic connectivity options come up each day across Africa and smart phones becoming more and more affordable the need to have a solidified and more structured ICT policy in Africa is necessary. Data security will become more of an issue, as looking at the African political climate more elections within the next two decades in Africa will base voters registration / voting on biometric information. Economic planning, education, health and agriculture will also require robust ICT policies to push individually African states agenda on how best to use ICT to enhance and accelerate Development, hence ICT policy is critical today, tomorrow to our development as a continent.
The most important areas to intervene is having a robust ICT policy among African states where e government will play a critical role, how do we use ICT to govern properly getting our masses attuned with governmental policies, services, developments starting at grassroots level? These are questions that various e governmental platforms have to answer to make it truly effective, hence they become another wide elephant project.
Second key area of intervention is content development how do we leverage on the various strides in technology development to get ICT solutions especially through voice technology (putting it in layman terms) to our citizenry where majority are still illiterates and using voice via mobile apps for information on access to health facilities, markets, education, agriculture can lead to improvement in the living standards of majority of Africans who live in rural areas.
Third area of intervention is entrenching the use of e learning platforms and solutions to aid our teachers in improving standards of education in our schools especially in rural schools where lack of books, teacher professional development has affected rapid improvements in educational standards in Africa and stifled economic growth.
The above three areas are key intervention areas, as they are linked symbiotically to each other, the need to have an effective e governmental platform starting at grass root level for local authorities to manage their resources better, creates more avenues for content creation which in turn filters down to our educational system and economic development.
Human Rights and the internet are highly interlinked, citizenry, should be able to have access and express views through the internet which has become the greatest game changer this century, the need for accessibility to internet resources should be a right to every individual who decides to use it. However based on our diverse cultures and way of life the need for self regulation should always be a factor in considering the various ways we use the internet and how despite the great innovation the internet has created among people, in a flash it can be used as a weapon of hatred and war, its in this light that self regulation should be important and education more about how it should be used as a positive force for change within the cultures and settings of our individual African countries should be at the forefront of all our ICT policies. The internet been a tool has created enormous possibilities this century, for our children, it has opened opportunities whether you a nomad, a rural dweller, a housewife you can improve your live through the internet as a tool for learning, just as with education, which despite all the efforts a number of children within our continent are still not able to have access to it, The Internet if used within the right framework can create and bridge gaps between the haves and marginalized in creating the right balance for it to impact on our communities thereby creating economic growth, and give people more avenues to create wealth, hence the need for more concrete efforts in language development platforms on the Internet that will aid our overall socio economic development in Africa.