Friday, May 27, 2011

African states challenged to invest in ICT

Vice-President Dr Ghalib Bilal has called on African governments to invest heavily in information and communication technology (ICT), describing it as a strategic drive for addressing increasing challenges facing the education sector. “This is indeed an inevitable component in the process of improving the quality of education in the continent, including Tanzania,” said Bilal on Wednesday at the official opening of the 6th International Conference on ICT in Dar es Salaam, which drew more than 1,700 participants from across the world. He said remarkable achievements have been recorded in the country’s education sector in terms of access and expansion of infrastructures for schools, colleges, vocational and polytechnics, but warned that the “strides developed some challenges” which required concerted strategies to redress them.“In order to address most of these educational challenges, it is imperative that African governments invest massively in ICT in schools and colleges and job-related ICT training programmes,”

Vice President Dr. Ghalib Bilal

Bilal told the conference that attracted renowned ICT experts and specialists, government ministers and officials, and representatives of private ICT companies and civil societies from Africa, Europe, USA, and other parts of the globe.In order to prepare the youth to become employable, he said, African countries are now engaged in the expansion of education at different levels, but most of them lack necessary skills, knowledge and experience required in the labour market. Under such circumstances, he noted, African youth needed relevant ICT knowledge and skills to make them viable and competitive in the labour markets and hence, become employable and professionally productive. Recognizing the importance of ICT, he said the government embarked on the construction of the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB), which connects all regions and districts through a 10,000-km Optic Fibre Cable. He said the government acknowledges the need to harness ICT in order to meet the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Development Vision-2025, noting that in this respect the national ICT policy emphasizes Tanzanian’s resolve to become a hub of ICT infrastructure and ICT solution in the context of enhancing sustainable social-economic development and accelerating poverty reduction. Jim Adams, World Bank vice-president for East Asia and Pacific Region, said effective application of ICT technologies can rapidly transform the education sector, but cautioned that governments and countries needed to select relevant ICT applications. “Certain factors need to be considered in selecting ICT applications for use in education. Cost of applications is one thing, but relevance of technologies and many other forces must be looked at during the selection process,” he noted. A veteran media expert and activists, Jeneral Ulimwengu, said. “Let’s invest in ICT…if we (Tanzania) fail to invest in desks, classrooms, I don’t know what will happen if we fail to invest in ICT.” “It’s not necessary that we do everything ourselves, we have to borrow some inputs on how to do it from other African countries and beyond,” he added.


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