The African ICT Foundation, (AFICTF) has unveiled a two year digital inclusion development plan for the continent targeting policy and infrastructure issues on Internet of Things ( IoTs), Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.
The Foundation is non-governmental organisation established in 2009 but recently rejigged to urgently address critical issues that bothers on Africa’s digital inclusion.
The development plan was unveiled at the inauguration of the new Board of Trustees (BOT) chaired by the former Director of Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), Mr Tony Ojobo held in Lagos, South-West, Nigeria.
Mr. Ojobo who doubles as the Chairman of the BOT and President of the Foundation in his inaugural speech also declared a state of emergency on internet penetration stating that Africa needs a declaration of emergency in the area of ICT developments and innovation.
According to him, in the next two years, the Foundation will consciously be making efforts towards holistic involvement in in research and educational activities that involves setting the policy agenda on technological innovations, information and communication technology, trade and globalization and clean energy.
He stated that the Foundation will be getting Africa’s private sector support on critical industry issues that affect the growth of Africa’s economy while also working with policymakers to develop and promote policies and ideas, capitalising on the tremendous economic and social benefits ICT provides for Africans.
Ojobo noted that AFICTF will be encouraging adherence to high standard of research, empowerment and integrity with an internal code of ethics grounded in analytical rigor, policy pragmatism, and independence from external direction or bias.
He said that a key aspect of the development of digital inclusion in Africa will be to promote skills sustainable for the development of African nationhood, reduce the level of illiteracy and poverty in the society as well as engage African youths on IT exchange programmes.
The Chairman of the BOT revealed that the Foundation the thematic theme the Foundation is using to address the critical issues of Africa’s ICT development, which he called the 4As of ICT development and deployments are: Awareness, Access, Adoption and Application
He noted that there is the need for the nations in the continent to be aware of the capabilities that ICT offers in terms of GDP growth and job creation is imperative stressing that access is critical to making this happen, especially in terms of availability and affordability.
“Our leaders need to embrace the use of ICT through its adoption for ease of business and processes required for industrial growth. Technology not applied cannot deliver the desired dividends”, he said.
He disclosed that part of the Foundation’s strategy of achieving its objective is Partnerships/Collaborations, Funding, Advocacies and sensitisation, and Capacity building/Training stressing that noting that true partnerships between governments and non-government actors are essential to addressing a problem as complex as ICT Penetration in Africa.
While calling for support, Mr. Ojobo said that no government, nation or agency can meet this challenge alone, hence the synergy through the African ICT Foundation to make information and communication technology more affordable and reachable for Africans everywhere.
He said: “Our inexhaustible focus is at the intersection of technological innovations such as telecommunications, information technology and data, life sciences, trade and globalization, agricultural Biotechnology and clean energy. It is poised towards providing high-quality information analysis, policy pragmatism, and recommendations that can be trusted.”
According to him, all projects of the Foundation shall be implemented through grants and shall designed to create demand and promote usage of ICTs in unserved and underserved communities and groups across the continent.
He said further that the projects involve are the provision of end-user devices to complement the telecommunication infrastructure that are deployed under the Connectivity Programme saying, that the Foundation will encourage and support the emergence of ICT Innovation Hubs in the continent, which will serve as platforms for growth of start-ups with capacity for development of disruptive innovations.