"Africa missed the industrial revolution, we can't afford to stand aside and let the communication revolution go by too" Felix Houphouet Boigny
This statement, a warning since 1987 from former Ivory Coast President Felix Houphouet Boigny, to his countrymen, points to the fundamental need for African Nations to make every effort to be part of today’s information age.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and The Louisiana Board of Regents, we are pleased to announce ICT Africa 2008. This conference will bring together a fine mix of practitioners and academicians in the area of ICTs for sustainable development.
There is a growing body of research that point to the critical role of information and communication technologies(ICT) in improving the socio-economic and political status of developing nations in general and sub-Saharan Africa(SSA) in particular. Such technologies have indeed been penetrating the SSA region at an exponential rate. For example, SSA has the fastest growth rates in wireless (cellular) telephone penetration. Other examples include:
- TeleMedicine: Hospitals in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Rwanda now use information technologies to offer medical services in cases where the physician and patients are in different geographic locations.
- TeleEducation: Universities such as the African Virtual University use telecommunications networks to offer online education for many African students based in countries with just 1 or 2 universities.
- TeleDemocracy/E-Government: Countries such as Tanzania and South Africa now use ICTs for accountability, tracking corruption and promoting freedoms of speech and association.
- Despite this apparent growth of ICTs, there appears to be lacking a coherent policy formulated to direct the growth of ICTs in such a manner as to sustain and reap the benefits of these technologies.