Deputy President of the republic and Chancellor of the University of Venda – Kgalema Motlanthe waits for the opening of proceedings at the university fandraiser hosted at Gallagher Estate on the 29th of October. Picture: Timothy Bernard.

Africa can use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to catapult economic growth, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.

Addressing the ICT Indaba in Cape Town, he said ICTs could be used to transform the African economy into a knowledge-based one.

“... We must remain aware that the biggest commodity in the world today is knowledge, and the ability to generate, access, and distribute knowledge have become key determinants for a higher developmental trajectory for any nation.”

“For example, South Korea has managed to propel itself to among the top eight richest economies in the world by setting up a knowledge-based economy.”

Africa was lagging in key indexes of ICT and knowledge growth.

No African country featured in the top 100 countries of the World Bank's Knowledge Economy Index or the top 50 countries of the ICT Development Index by the International Telecommunications Union.

Motlanthe said the continent could change this by working on regulatory frameworks to help reduce costs and ensure secure networks.

“Improving Africa's information communication technologies is a precondition for improving it's productive industrial capacity,” he said.

Countries should also ensure universal broadband access.

“We must not forget that 55 percent of Africans live in rural areas. As a result, it is our responsibility to ensure that they are integrated into the knowledge-based society.”

The World Bank estimated that increasing broadband penetration by 10 percent generated an additional 1.4 percent growth in the Gross Domestic Product for developing countries.

Motlanthe said he was positive the ICT Indaba would come up with innovative African solutions, despite the continent carrying “a historical burden next to none in the use and provision of technology”. - Sapa