Vancouver Ethiopian Blog

Ethiopian life in Vancouver, BC, Canada

Kenyan-Born Harvard Professor, Calestous Juma Says: “Invest in High Speed Internet” to African Leaders

Kenyan-Born Harvard University Professor, Calestous Juma, says information and communication technologies are the foundations for Africa to meet its developmental needs

In late January 2010, Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa hosted the 14th Ordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) heads of state.

The theme of the summit was “Information and Communication Technologies in Africa: Challenges and Prospects for Development”.

Kenyan-born Calestous Juma, who is director of Science, Technology and Globalization at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, said although most African countries had been saddled with inadequate information technology, the situation is improving gradually.

“Up to now information has been probably the most costly resource on the continent. But, this is changing very fast. We’ve seen a dramatic impact that mobile phones have had on Africa economic scene as well as political scene. But, with the arrival of fiber optic cable, Africa now has this possibility of accessing high speed internet,” he said.

Photo: Calestous Juma

Juma said, ” accessing high speed internet would enable African countries to develop major contents, access the content that is available in other countries like educational materials that would otherwise not be available free of charge”.

He called on African leaders, who met in the Ethiopian capital to focus on developing new policies on how to tap the high speed Internet.

Juma said, “African countries and governments have the political will to implement the proposals on improving their information and communication technologies”.

“What they need to do is learn from other countries that already have broad band policies. For example, they need to focus on mobile education, mobile health, and modernize government infrastructures by digitizing all the content they have in government offices. So, the political will exists, but they need to invest in building up the capacity to do it,” Juma said.

Juma said, “information and communication technologies are the foundations by which Africa can quickly meet its development needs”.

“I would argue that Africa’s inability to solve basic needs, like provide low cost medical care, expand agricultural production is linked to in fact poor access to information. Information will make it easier for Africa to grow better food because the availability of information will enable farmers to determine precisely when to plant their crops,” he said.

Prof Juma also said, “the availability of information will enable health care providers to use portable diagnostic tools linked to mobile phones to bring the hospital to patients instead of the other way round”.

Juma said, “a computer without electricity is useless. As such, he said African countries should do more in developing other complementary infrastructures, especially energy.”

“We should start to explore the potential of harnessing wind power, hydro power and other forms of energy. If you look at the African continent for example, the Horn of Africa has the highest wind potential in the entire continent. So, we should be thinking about how to harness that resource,” Juma said.

Prof Juma said, “Africa should also look into harnessing renewable energy, like solar energy, to power computers, mobile phones and other technologies”.

Juma said, “the quality of communication to Africa by phone has been poor because such technology depends on satellites. But, he said the quality of communication would improve dramatically when Africa begins to use fiber optic cables that are being laid at the moment”.

Do you think the leaders of Africa are heeding to this important message from Prof Juma? Have your say, and comment below, please.

Source: VOA News

You can read more about Professor Calestous Juma by clicking here.

My next blog entry will be on Thursday June 17, 2010.
Mullkam Samint!

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June 10, 2010 - Posted by | Ethiopian Businesses, Ethiopian Careers, Ethiopian Citizenship, Ethiopian Culture, Ethiopian Education, Ethiopian History, Ethiopian Investments, Ethiopian Media, Ethiopian Parenting, Ethiopian Patriotism, Ethiopian Politics, Ethiopian Professors, Ethiopian Socials, Ethiopians & Technology, Ethiopians Back Home, Ethiopians in Vancouver | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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