Congo-Brazzaville to launch digital governance agency

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo

The Republic of Congo, neighbour of conflict-hit Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will soon launch a digital governance agency, which will be tasked to efficiently monitor and control the implementation of the country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) projects.

This is one of the recommendations of the new regulations of the sector, which is set to undergo a deep transformation after the country adopted a new ICT policy last week in Brazzaville.

“It’s the turning point of an industry that has been neglected for decades and needed urgent reforms,” technology analyst Jean-Albert Longange told Biztechafrica.

The 2008 policy’s implementation was not adequate and effective, and its progress was not properly monitored, he said, adding that the creation of the digital governance agency would truly help the country’s ICT sector move forward and catch up with the digital revolution.

The new national policy – developed, revised and updated by the government of Denis Sassou Nguessou with funding from the World Bank – will work towards reducing the digital divide in the aim of building an information society where many people will have access to computers and the Internet, the government said.

“This is a small country with a small population, but the number of people having access to computers is appalling and  internet penetration is very low, demonstrating that the government, which is only waking up now, has not really made ICT one of its priorities,” Longange pointed out.

Only 0.9% of the population in this Central African nation of 4.4 million people have PCs, while 23% and 56% have access to TV and radio, respectively, according to independent statistics.

Unlike the 2008 policy that had two pillars, the new policy will have three, namely government and public authorities, stakeholders, and service providers, the government said.

Oil-rich Congo-Brazzaville and its neighbour Gabon recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in February this year to establish an interconnection between the fibre optic networks CAB3 (Congo) and CAB4 (Gabon).

The agreement is said to increase the geographical coverage of the network, bandwidth capacity, and reduce the costs of communication in Central Africa.

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