African governments, private sector and civil society organizations have pledged to form an unprecedented alliance to ensure that the continent establishes a full fledged internet industry.
Delegates attending the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) have promised to co-operate and oil the engine of development in Africa and implement the Tunis commitment and Plan of Action.
Theophilius Mlaki head of Information and Documentation at Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology said there was need for the government to enter into strategic partnerships in order to fully and quickly implement the Plan of Action.
“We know the challenges, strengths and fruits of working together. It is the only way to develop Africa,” said Mlaki.
After Tunis, Mlaki says the government will implement the research it has already conducted and liaise with the private sector and civil society organisations to implement research findings and educate the public on ICTs.
One of the findings is that ICT development can be incorporated with other spheres of development such as water provision, agriculture, and health and road construction.
To illustrate his point, he said the government has collaborated with the Chinese in a water project where the pipes are dug, fitted and a fibre optic cable laid at the same time. The 100-kilometre water pipe system between Wami and Challenge in Coast region is the highlight of what alliances can achieve.
Pierre Dandjinou, Chairman of AfriNIC board, admits there is need for concerted efforts adding that every sector must play its role. AfriNIC is the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) tasked with providing Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
He said African governments must play regulatory role and provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive and private sector as well as civil society must collaborate in research and innovation.
“Today, Africa is merely a consumer of internet business. We need to start an industry and all players must be involved,” said Dandjinou.
If internet business thrives in Africa, then AfriNIC will offer requisite addresses and support, communities will be connected and jobs will be available for many people who may be currently unemployed.
In this respect, Dandjinou says different regions can network and exchange ideas and governments can make relevant policies and make budgetary allocations for telecommunication development.
On the same breath, the Sudanese government used the summit as a forum to attract multinational companies and government agencies interested in investing in the south of the country that has experienced civil war for 20 years.
Khateeb Dafi, Secretary General in the ministry of Information and Communication said the government has a subcommittee that is going to meet and assign responsibilities according to the Plan of Action.
According to Dafi, the largest country in Africa has laid a 100-kilometre fibre optic cable in conjunction with Sentech of South Africa and has four telephone providers, two for mobile and two for fixed line.
“The summit has been a success for us, we made contact with companies from Italy, Spain and Malaysia and we are hoping to finalise a deal to establish radio stations across Sudan,” said Dafi.
In Benin, all participants from private and public sector are planning to meet and chart the way forward in implementing the Plan of Action. Kouferidji Ramanou, Director General of Groupe Africoncept Broadcast Telecom S.A said the Action Plan had a lot of challenges and success stories that can be replicated in the West African nation.
Dorothy Okello, Executive Director of Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) emphasized the need for public and public sectors to work together and for more money to be channeled to implementation of the plan.
“We have all been working on our projects in respective countries. We can no longer work in isolation. We have to unite, share lessons and way forward in implementing commitments made in Tunis,” she said.