Ministers of Communications & Digital Technologies, and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) member states, convened in Cape Town, South Africa for a ministerial forum to discuss how to build a future-oriented, intelligent digital infrastructure for Africa.
Co-organized by the ATU and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) of South Africa, the forum took place on the sidelines of AfricaCom. The event concluded with the signing of a joint communique underlining the importance of collaboration between all stakeholders in building a future-oriented digital infrastructure for Africa.
The forum provided a platform for dialogue and an exchange of views on the development of a future-oriented intelligent digital infrastructure in Africa, which is essential for achieving the socio-economic development goals of the continent.
The event comes at a time when the development of the global digital economy has brought focus on the need for Africa to strengthen the construction of high-speed networks including; 4G, 5G, and fibre, and the implementation of high-performance cloud computing capabilities.
“In the space in which this forum operates, we can create consensus on which way to go in building the future-oriented digital infrastructure for Africa,” the ATU Secretary General, John Omo, remarked. “We know the place of digital infrastructure in the global arithmetic that defines the compass of progress.”
Omo further added, “I must note that it is also through the synergy of governments, private sector entities, research institutions, and international organizations that we can realize the full potential of our collective efforts.” “What this means is that inclusivity should be a guiding principle as we shape the future of digital infrastructure,” he explains — emphasizing the must to ensure that the benefits of technological advancements reach every corner of society, leaving no one behind.
South African Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Philly Mapulane concurred with the need for collaboration by players across the sector.
“We are here not merely as representatives of our respective nations and organizations, but we are here as architects of a shared vision — one that envisions an Africa propelled into a future where the possibilities of connectivity are boundless,” remarked Mapulane.
Mapulane noted that the gathering marks a significant milestone in a collective pursuit of a digitally empowered Africa.
“Today, we are not just building a digital infrastructure; we are laying the foundation for the socio-economic emancipation of our continent,” he said. “Let us envision a future where our digital infrastructure is seamless, intelligent, and accessible to all.”
Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa, underlined how much progress Africa has made when it comes to building the digital infrastructure it needs while also outlining the areas that still need improvement which can best be achieved through the One Network, One Cloud approach advocated by Huawei Technologies.
Other dignitaries echoed the importance of collaboration for the future of African digital infrastructure.
Botswana’s Minister of Communications, Knowledge, and Technology, Hon. Thulagano Merafe Segokgo said it’s key that all stakeholders work collaboratively to ensure that connection costs don’t become a barrier to connectivity for citizens across Africa. “If we are going to achieve connectivity at the level our citizenries deserve, we must work together.”
Minister for Information, Communication, and Information Technology to the United Republic of Tanzania, Nape Moses Nnauye, said “We can work together and face the challenges together.” Adding that “Collaborating is an important aspect if we want to achieve our goals.”
Seconding his [Nnauye] statement Dr. T A Mavetera, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services to the Republic of Zimbabwe, said “We truly need greater collaboration.” “This collaboration should extend beyond digital infrastructure and include things like skills transfer and policy formulation.”
The communique, issued at the end of the forum, committed the African countries present to collaborate and align their policies and strategies to promote the development of digital infrastructure in Africa, in line with the African Union Agenda 2063, the ATU Strategic Plan 2020-2024, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.