Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 109

Deciding - 107
ICT for sustainable development
frica faces significant deficit not only
in Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) but in all major
infrastructures in general, resulting in
increased production and transaction
costs, reduced competitiveness of
businesses, therefore affecting the rate of
economic and social development on the
continent. Numerous ICT statistics point to
the fact that Africa is themost unconnected
continent: low numbers of households
with computer and working internet, low
access to internet for age group of 16 years
and above, low numbers of customers with
access to broadband, etc.
Challenges facing Africa in ICT:
• Lack of connectivity, accessibility and
affordability in all rural and remote
areas constituting over 70% of the total
population of about 900 million people;
• Lack of appropriate access networks
due to the geographical terrain of the
• Connecting Africa to Africa and within
African countries themselves in a cost-
effective way;
• Africa is an island in the middle of the
ICT sea and the landlocked countries are
an archipelago of islands;
• The development of ICT in Africa is a
driver for socio-economic development
but remains a burden for the fragile
• Low broadband penetration leading to
very high costs.
Addressing these challenges it requires
a continental integrated approach
which not only focuses on connecting
Africa to the rest of the world but also
connecting Africa to Africa and within
African countries themselves. Regional
integration is necessary to overcome
the limitations of Africa’s small and
fragmented economies.
PIDA’S objectives
This drive is contained in Africa Vision
2040 of the Programme for Infrastructure
Development in Africa (PIDA) which aims
at enabling ‘
Any African anywhere in Africa
to reach the IP world (voice and data) at
affordable price. It also aims at efficient
usage and management of ICT resources
for increased literacy, poverty reduction
and support of socioeconomic development
and regional cooperation. It is estimated
that Africa’s population will jump to 1,5
RASCOM-QAF 1R satellite under integration.
Placed in geostationary orbit at an altitude of
36000 km, the satellite provides telecommunica-
tion services at the scale of Africa.
Thales Alenia Space. ©Serge Henri
billion, more than China and more than
’ PIDA was launched on 24 July 2010
in Kampala, Uganda, on the sidelines
of the 15th African Union heads of state
and government summit. It is a joint
initiative of the African Union Commission
(AUC), the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development (NEPAD) Secretariat and
the African Development Bank (AfDB)
PIDA’s objective is to merge all continental
infrastructure initiatives into a single
coherent programme for the entire
continent. The overall goal of PIDA is to
promote socio-economic development
and poverty reduction in Africa through
improved access to integrated regional
and continental infrastructure networks
integration is important in ensuring
sustainable development in Africa. ICT
is considered as an enabler crosscutting
through infrastructure programmes
like Energy, Transport, etc. in view of its
inherent multiplier effects.
The PIDA programme is a continuation
from the Connect Africa Initiative
which was launched in October 2007
in Kigali, Rwanda. This is a continental
initiative for mobilizing resources for
the implementation of infrastructure
development programmes related to
connectivity in Africa. In both cases, PIDA
and Connect Africa, there was a good
support from the leadership of Africa
which is an indication of political will.
These initiatives/programme focus on
development of huge capacities around
and inside Africa to support broadband
communication, and at the same
time create more access to the large
population. While various submarine fiber
cable projects are being implemented,
several satellites earmarked for launch
will provide coverage for Africa. Together
with other technologies, all of them will
be complementing one another.
The dream of the future
This reminds me of the drum which has
been producing drumbeats as a means of
communications for one hundred years
until today. The sounds produced are like
bitrates which send different messages at
different times. These are talking drums.
They still exist today in numerous African
countries in villages to announce somber
news, to call a meeting and as a herald.
The manner of beating the talking drums
conveys important prior information.
People admire drums and the beats
because they have been sustained for
many years. We now know that ICT, which
is a source of information, communication
and knowledge, can be a vital tool for
sustainable development and Africa
needs the drum and drumbeats in other
words more than ever before to be part
of the world information society. Welcome
to the drums and enjoy the sounds of the
Dr Jones Killimbe
Director General & CEO, RASCOM
Ivory Coast
Attoungblan sacred drum players monument
near Abidjan Airport (Ivory Coast). The sound of
this powerful twin talking drum is a call to action.
©Jones Killimbe
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