ECA calls on African organisation to embrace new technologies

10593794055 c2949e5118 zThe Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has called on African countries to take on the role that information and communication technologies (ICT) play in boosting competitiveness, particularly in the context of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

Speaking at the Innovation Africa Digital (IAD) Summit in Addis Ababa, Oliver Chinganya, director of the ECA’s African Centre for Statistics, said technology and innovation have been the backbone of African economic success over the last two decades but internet and internet-related penetration remained limited.

“This relatively low level of the ICT maturity is limiting the government’s plans in many economic sectors, including its ability to deliver on the planned digitalisation of the public administration services like censuses, health and education,” he added.

According to the director, many African countries face a number of challenges in terms of national ICT maturity, including limited information technology infrastructure, inconsistent electricity delivery, wide disparities in internet access and mobile services, lack of adequate legislation and excessive data costs.

“In an era marked by intense competition, globalisation, and increased importance of knowledge as an economic driver, it is important for organisations and governments to understand the dynamic and significant role that ICT plays in enhancing competitiveness in the context of AfCFTA implementation,” the director stated.

“Therefore, there is a need for governments to establish and implement strategies and policies taking into consideration the effects of economic, social and technological factors on ICT maturity as well as the relationship between ICT maturity and global competitiveness,” he noted.

He further said the continent is suffering from low mobile broadband connectivity, where less than 30 per cent of Africans have access to it, compared to 79 per cent of Americans.

In this regard, he stressed, governments should make broadband not only accessible but also affordable, to enable citizens to use digital technologies to access public services.

“To enhance global competitiveness, governments should encourage stronger adoption of the latest technologies, especially broadband technologies as well as to develop digital industrial capabilities including the innovative capacity of their companies,” the director continued.

He added that vital human capacity building challenges need to be addressed for the continent to benefit from digital technologies.

“Therefore, there is a need to increase efforts to achieve sustainable development by investing in technology parks and other IT infrastructures, boost knowledge sharing and technology transfer, among others,” he concluded.

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