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Poor infrastructure hinders Africa’s digital revolution: experts

Africa’s poor infrastructure is threatening to black out its ambitious digital revolution, experts have said at the regional International Telecommunication Union conference in Kigali, Capital of Rwanda.

Information technology experts observed that poor transport, communication and energy infrastructures pose a serious threat to digital revolution especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Rwanda is hosting the ICT forum on Dec. 6-8 ahead of the World Telecommunication Development Conference 2017 (WTDC-17) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Speaking at the meeting on Thursday, Ibrahim Sanou, director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), said that due to poor infrastructure development, Africa’s share of global technological revolution is drastically disproportionate to its population.

"Africa should not wait until the train of the next industrial revolution has passed to play catch up," Sanou said.

"Digital transformation of African economies is lucrative. This means Africa will register sudden improvements to education, health, Agriculture, communication, trade and political spheres," he said.

In the last five years, Africa has undergone a phenomenon that analysts refer to as the continent’s "digital revolution." However, inadequate or poor infrastructure development has derailed the growth of technology advancements.

The meeting attracted ICT policy-makers, regulators, industry, academia, regional and international development agencies and organizations from Africa and beyond to discuss specific regional telecommunication and ICT issues.

According to the World Bank, only 40 percent of Africans have a reliable energy supply, and just 20 percent of people on the continent have Internet access.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwandan minister of youth and ICT, said that addressing infrastructure challenges in Africa means advancing digital revolution.

"We are at the dawn of a technological revolution that will change almost every part of our lives. We need to ensure that this wave of digital revolution is supported by investments in infrastructural growth to enable smooth transition from analog to digital technologies," he noted.

ICT analysts say the construction of undersea fiber-optic cables, coupled with a full embrace of mobile technology, is yet to redefine sub-Saharan Africa’s information communication technologies’ landscape.

Power is Africa’s biggest infrastructure weak point, with as many as 30 countries facing regular power outages, according to a 2015 report by the World Bank.


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