We, the Ministers responsible for Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in our respective countries in Africa, assembled in Cape Town from the 4th – 7th of June 2012 for the Inaugural ICT INDABA, having engaged with regional and international bodies, ICT ‘Captains of Industry’, civil society and the creative industry through collaborative dialogue, hereby declare our common desire and commitment to eradicate the barriers of poverty through the promotion and use of enabling ICTs to build and foster a people-centred knowledge-based economy in Africa.
We recognise that the attainment of this knowledge-based economy on the continent will require accelerating investment in robust and secure infrastructure. To that end, we endorse the development of creative, competitive and sustainable ICT industries across Africa; the creation of employment in the sectors, the sharing of skills across the continent and collaboration on ICT Innovation initiatives in order to improve the quality of life of our peoples, setting our continent on a higher trajectory of economic and social development. We acknowledge that this will require an enabling legal and regulatory framework aligned to updated International Telecommunications Regulations.
We therefore reaffirm the outcomes of the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in Geneva in 2003 and Tunis in 2005, and remain resolute in our quest to ensure that everyone can benefit from the opportunities that ICTs offer. We agree that in order to mitigate these challenges, all stakeholders should work together to improve access to information and communication infrastructure and technologies as well as to information and knowledge; build capacity; increase confidence and security in the use of ICTs; create an enabling environment at all levels; develop and widen ICT applications; foster and respect cultural diversity; recognise the role of the media; address the ethical dimensions of the Information Society; and encourage international and regional cooperation. We thus agree that these are the key principles for building an inclusive Information Society in Africa.
We reaffirm regional programs such as “Connect Africa” through which we have committed to connecting African cities and villages through broadband, adopting policy and regulatory measures promoting ICT access, support ICT capacity building and adoption of e-strategies and cybersecurity measures to promote e-services.
This declaration, a statement of intent of the representatives in attendance at the Inaugural ICT INDABA 2012 held in South Africa, is a concerted effort to provide a point of reference for the priority areas identified at the Indaba to guide the implementation of an accelerated agenda in using ICTs for socio-economic development in our respective countries. It primarily aims to identify key targets and related strategies for Africa’s growth through ICTs and facilitate a basis for measuring and monitoring the impact of outcomes from the ICT Indaba for socio-economic development on the African continent.
ICT INDABA objectives for the African continent
In recognising the urgency to provide solutions due to the persistent challenges of:
- Poor quality and suboptimal access to education in certain parts of our continent which subject our young people to a predetermined life of impoverishment and unemployment;
- Under-resourced and debilitating healthcare systems in most of our countries which is confronted by an ever-increasing patient base with diverse health threatening conditions, not least amongst these, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and infant mortality;
- Inadequate and ageing infrastructure, not just in telecommunications, but also in roads, rail and shipping and this undermines the endeavours of connecting Africa for intra-continental trade;
- Out-dated and snail-paced commerce platforms which do not integrate the full economic spectrum of citizens and which delay economic growth and encumber the establishment of new enterprises;
- Extensive shortages in the required skilled personnel within our labour-force which disables people from accessing the jobs in the knowledge-based economy and undermines our global competitiveness as Africans; and
- a lack of ICT manufacturing presence on the African continent thereby propelling an import dependent economy and with an overall impact on industry competitiveness, skills development and job creation.
We thus define the following goals to be attained by 2020:
We declare access to broadband communication as a basic human right in Africa and commit to increasing broadband penetration to approximately 80 percent of the population by 2020. This common vision draws its basis from the positive impact exerted on economic growth through increasing Accessibility, Affordability, and Availability to broadband by all. It further recognises the urgent need to exploit the extensive network provided through the undersea fibre-optic cables that land on multiple sites throughout Africa and has a direct intention to influence the agenda for the Africa Infrastructure Development Corridor. We remain focused on the vision that must be realised through a solid compact and shared commitment between government, the private sector and others where adequate funding must be allocated to support an innovative leapfrog mindset.
We further declare our concerted commitment to advance consultations with relevant stakeholders and expedite policies and regulations that are geared towards reduction of costs to communicate in order to facilitate fair access to services. This targeted reduction in costs should not only be focused to network operators but also extend to the retail market, addressing price of communication devices such as computers, set-top-box, televisions, smart phones and tablets.
We are resolute in advancing pragmatic and foresight-driven eStrategies in our individual countries with a key focus on providing tangible solutions to our immediate challenges in Education, Agriculture, Health and overall government service delivery. We also view the need for eStrategies in our countries as a fundamental tool for improving business processes across all industries and expanding the socio-economic impact of our continent. To this end, we commit to an advanced development and use of applications locally relevant thematic areas as identified in the eStrategies in our individual countries with particular attention to e-inclusion.
We further commit to taking bold steps in closing the skills gap that exist between African countries and developed nations. To this end we intend to pursue the necessary programmes, in consultation with other stakeholders to improve basic education, with an emphasis on mathematics and science. In particular, to promote broadband integrated facilities in ICT education in such a way that it enhances the production of an industry ready workforce and an entrepreneurial ecosystem fostering innovation.
We advocate the importance of ICT skills development among girls’ and women as a key foundation block to advance their subsequent participation and leadership in the ICT eco-system.
We have identified the green economy as a strategic area for Africa’s growth through which we can position our continent to play a critical role to address climate change and preserve the environment for our future generations. In doing so, we recognise the use of renewable energy sources and curbing e-waste in the provision of telecommunications and ICT services. We have further identified the establishment of smart cities in Africa as a practical mechanism for stimulating innovation, research and development and creating jobs in the knowledge-based economy.
We further recognise that many of the topics proposed for discussion are directly relevant to stimulating growth of the telecommunications and ICT sectors in Africa thereby providing a secure and enabling environment for developing a knowledge-based, inclusive and connected economy.
In our collective role as Ministers of ICT portfolios across the African continent, we recognise the need for key intervention areas to enable the achievement of the above mentioned objectives and targets. Collectively our national ICT strategies need to ensure implementation and realisation of specific targets over the next 8 years to 2020.
- Focus on learning and human capital development to ensure the ICT skills requirements of the economy and to enable Africans to effectively participate in the digital and knowledge economy, with particular attention to those skills needed in e-content creation and application design.
- Secure investment capital (both public and private) to fund the large scale infrastructure required to achieve the targeted access and penetration levels, sustainable funding and the promotion of small, medium and micro enterprises.
- Strengthen the R&D, design production capabilities and skills transfer which need to be enhanced to increase local economic value and leveraging global best practice to stimulate and increase investment into local manufacturing on the continent.
- Stimulate local content production considering the opportunity of application development, the multi-media sector, knowledge creation and the digitisation of Government.
- Select and evaluate best practices in Africa and share lessons learnt to stimulate innovation and local content creation to strengthen the focus on the knowledge society consistent with the aspirations, values and African traditions on the continent.
- Capacitate inter-regional focused programmes to drive the implementation of ICT INDABA 2012 goals.
Outcomes from Meeting of ICT INDABA
In supporting the outcomes of the ICT INDABA 2012, underpinning the 2020 goals we commit to:
- Explore strategic partnerships and collaboration within the continent and others in order to consolidate expertise;
- Set Africa on a quantum leap growth curve by enhancing GDP growth through lessons learnt and applying innovation within the African context;
- Participate in international programmes through the UN, particularly the ITU to express our concerns and submit contributions which institute African values to shape the global agenda on critical issues pertinent to the continent as a whole e.g. UN RIO+20 and ITU’s WCIT-12; and
- Conduct stocktaking on our progress towards the 2020 targets and to share this at the annual ICT INDABA.
- Establish an ICT INDABA Secretariat which is comprised of multi-stakeholder participation from the region;
- Coordinate with stakeholders including the Regional Economic Communities and the African Union;
- Set up an ICT INDABA High level expert group to provide subject matter expertise and guidance to the identified priority areas;
- Form a Youth Chapter within the ICT INDABA programme to provide a platform of engagement with the youth particularly young girls across the continent; and
- Update an action plan based on ongoing outcomes from the ICT INDABA.