AU extra-ordinary conference to be held in SA

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pretoria - The next Extra-Ordinary Conference of the African Union (AU) Communication Ministers will be held in South Africa later this year.

The primary task of the Communication Minister's gathering would be to prepare for the next AU Heads of State Summit to be held in January next year.

The AU Extra-Ordinary Conference, which will be held in November, will focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) policy environment, infrastructure development, Internet and cyber-security, research and development in Africa among others.

Speaking at the recent AU Bureau meeting of Communications Ministers held in Addis Ababa, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Communications Dina Pule said there was a close correlation between broadband connectivity and economic development.

"Investment in ICT infrastructure to make the Internet and other ICT accessible and affordable to citizens in Africa is not a luxury, but a prerequisite to accelerate economic, social, cultural, and other aspects of development," she said.

Ms Pule further said there were economic and financial constraints in many countries on the African continent to make ICTs universally accessible, which was hampering their growth and development.

According to a World Bank report for every 10 percentage point increase in the penetration of broadband services, there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points.

She urged developed countries, international developmental agencies, private companies, and governments on the African continent to partner with greater synergy to deliver on the ICT aspirations of African countries.