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Dr Elham M.A. Ibrahim

ICT is at a turning point, and Africa needs to make great strides in its ICT development, the African Union has told a gathering of UA ICT Ministers in Khartoum.

The Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the AU Commission, Dr Elham M.A. Ibrahim, said in opening the fourth ordinary session of the African Union  Conference of Ministers in charge of ICTs in Khartoum that the continent has much to do to meet its development needs.

“We have a lot of potential which we have not explored yet. In addition to our natural resources and our growing education and skills, our population will reach in2020, 1.2 billion and by 2050, 2.2 billion. Most of this population will be young, educated and will live in the urban area. This will then require from us a lot of planning to turn this into advantages,” he said.

Dr Ibrahim noted that Africa’s ICT sector is one of the fastest-growing in the world, particularly in the voice market. “This growth will continue.  And, by 2018 the investment share in this sector will represent around 35% of the total investment both public and private in the infrastructure. “

Noting that 2015 is the deadline for analogue broadcasting switch-off and for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, she said leaders needed to enhance and accelerate the implementation of the many decisions taken by the Heads of State and Government summit.

“In the era of convergence, we need to move to more coherent and better coordinated approach for the development of all subsectors of the communications and information technologies.”

Dr Ibrahim said while the voice market had grown well, it is now imperative to start the development  of  other segments  by  introducing and developing  transformative applications in areas such as education, health, government services, agriculture and financial transactions.

She said key issues to be addressed at the 4th session of the conference included:

• The development of ONE  consolidated framework for the information and information technologies  by merging ARAPKE and the reference Framework adopted respectively in 2006 and 2008

• Consideration of and forwarding to the AU Assembly the  African Union Convention on Cyber-security for adoption  and  later to the Member States for ratification.

• Acceleration of the Migration the digital terrestrial TV transmission before 2015 while  ensuring  that there will be one standard adopted  for Africa and  will have a common approach for the digital dividend for better integration.

• Adoption of the decision for the migration from IPv4 to IPv6 to allow us to have more IP addresses to benefit from the Internet.

• Collaboration to implement the ongoing Projects on Internet Exchange Systems  –AXIS  within the 30  identified  countries and  on Africa  Leadership on ICT to be expanded to other African regions following the first cohort we have just trained.

• Ensuring that the Pan African e-Network for Tele-medicine and tele-education will continue its performance in e-education and e-health after the end of technical assistance from India in 2014.

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