Policy And Regulation Crucial to ICT Progress in Africa

Addis Ababa, 03 May 2011 (ECA) – The ICT, Science and Technology Division (ISTD) of the UN Economic Commission for Africa reported at the ICT sub-committee meeting Tuesday that it had concentrated during the year 2009-2010 on supporting countries to implement their ICT policies and strategies.

Ms. Eskedar Nega, Programme Officer said that the Division had extended its policy and strategy support to countries that made requests. She highlighted Burkina Faso that needed to develop e-government and e-health strategies and the Gambia that needed support for the development of its National Information and Communication Implementation Plan (NICI).

Other countries such as Mali requested support for sectoral e-strategies on e-commerce and e-agriculture, and Niger, the development of e-commerce, e-education and e-health strategies.

“ECA is trying to promote the need to build a conducive environment for economic growth and employment creation,” she said, adding: “We have supported in revising and adopting new laws for the ICT sector in Ethiopia and in Ghana.”

These e-Legislation activities include developing a national e-commerce law and supporting the newly-created Ministry of Communication and Information Technology of Ethiopia as well as reviewing Ghana’s cyber security policy and helping to set up a Computer Emergency Response Team.

At the sub-regional level, the ECA has been working with the SADC on eSADC, a programme aimed at promoting regional cooperation and trade in the region.

“We have received requests from COMESA and CEMAC and we are mobilising resources to respond to their requests.” Nega said.

The ECA is partnering with the ITU and UNCTAD, supported by the Government of Finland, to continue with its work on measuring how well countries are performing in ICTs. This work on measurement and evaluation includes: Capacity-building on ICT Measurement in Africa; Development of e-government indicators; Scan-ICT programme in Nigeria; Capacity-building for Parliamentarians; African eLearning Initiative; and the Technology in Government Awards (TIGA).

ECA’s collaboration with the African Union during the reporting period was also highlighted. “In terms of collaborating with the AUC, we have worked very closely,” She said.

The ECA is looking forward to even more work for the 2012-2013 period. Several activities are envisaged in capacity-building, advocacy and gender sensitive strategies.

Among the many lessons learnt, Ms. Nega said that commitment to policy and regulatory change as well as developing an enabling ICT environment was crucial.

“Where we have a clear vision to promote ICTs, to ensure political leadership at the highest level, member states need to ensure ownership by all stakeholders.”

The session was marked by a successful motion from one of the participants requesting the re-establishment of the Knowledge, Library and Information Service (KLIS) Committee. Following unanimous support from participants, the ECA will take the case forward for CODIST III. If reintroduced, it will bring back the number of subcommittees under ISTD to four including Geo, ICT and S&T.

The order of business for the ICT subcommittee included the selection of new members to spearhead the work of the bureau for the next reporting period. The new bureau included Gambia and Rwanda as chair and vice-chair and Angola and Sudan as first and second rapporteurs.

–    UNECA Press release

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