More than 200 foreign delegates are expected to converge in Kampala tomorrow for the start of the 8th Digital Africa Summit hoping that at the end of the three days, solutions to barriers blocking the growth of information and communication tools can finally be found.
This is the second time in a row that the conference is coming to Kampala. The theme of this year’s conference is “Digital convergence and innovation driving positive change.”
The conference is important for Africa, which remains far behind the other continents in the growth of ICT. It is also important because ICT is set to be at the core of global economic growth. Neemish Ladwa, the Managing Director of Business Excellence Global Media, the organizers of the summit, says ICT is now a prerequisite for socio-economic development across Africa.
He further says that a 2009 World Bank report demonstrated that for every 10 percentage-point increases in high-speed Internet connections, there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points therefore making the development and utilization of ICTs is every country’s gateway to economic development.
ICT helps in cutting costs as it acts as a source of vital information about market opportunities and challenges, reduces the amount of labour a company uses, and helps in speeding up work. However, Africa remains entangled amidst barriers such as conservative cultural values, infrastructural challenges like limited electricity supply, just to mention a few.
It is solutions to such challenges that this week’s conference seeks to find. “By bringing technology companies and all the stakeholders together to explain and showcase their services and products, we are availing an opportunity for development for the next generation”, Neemish said.
Uganda might be far behind among African countries with modern ICT tools but officials behind pushing for this technology say the country is moving in a positive direction.
Ambrose Ruyooka, the commissioner for IT at the Ministry of IT says that government is moving to digitize all its operations and institutions. For example, he says, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) are some of the government institutions that have already digitized their operations.
Then again, over 2600 acres of land have been reserved for ICT developers in Namanve Industrial Park, according to the Uganda Investment Authority.