African connectivity goal too ambitious?

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iol scitech june 5 Dina Pule INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The Minister of Communications Ms Dina Pule. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - A target of 80 percent internet connectivity across Africa by 2020 has been set, Communications Minister Dina Pule told an information and communications indaba in Cape Town on Thursday.

“In this connected future, all of Africa's major cities, towns and villages will be connected to affordable internet, thereby facilitating the continent's mass entry into the knowledge and information economy,” she said in her closing speech.

A team was being set up to monitor the progress and implementation of resolutions made at the indaba, and feedback would be shared with other African countries.

Regional and continental organisations would interact with countries which were not represented at the indaba.

Pule said that delivering broadband access to every African citizen would accelerate the attaining of the Millennium Development Goals.

“Our work will also assist us in identifying and closing the skills gap within our countries.”

The benefit of such an approach would be Africa creating its own technologies instead of just being a consumer for them, she said.

It was the government's role, within the information and communications sector, to act as a regulator.

“We never abdicate that responsibility to anyone,” said Pule.

Sustainable jobs, some of which might not exist today, could be created if large and small to medium businesses were allowed the space to innovate.

The minister cited the expansion of the mobile application industry as an example of a job creation area which did not exist three years ago.

“Now it employs millions of people and is making the lives of many easier,” she said. - Sapa

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