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ICT and financing: what is the link for the African context?

The previous follow up editions of the knowledge society summit which took place in Tunis in November 2005 was a matter of satisfaction for the participants in the ICT For All +3 currently held in Hammamet. Most of the objectives of the 2005 summit have been achieved in terms of their materialization in that they disseminated the digital culture in different countries, but mainly in African countries. An important part of the 1000 participants who made the trip to Hammamet, actually come from African countries, we note particularly the opresence of 15 African ministers, in charge of ICT in their respective countries, who took part in the various activities of the summit which was inaugurated by Mohammed Ghannouchi, Tunisian Prime Minister. 

ICT present a promising sector, in the developed countries

In his opening speech, the prime minister highlighted the importance of this summit, as well as the topic related to economic and technological matters that it debates. According to him, the fact that the summit deals with the issue of «high debit and of the content industry for development» shows the tight relation between the fundamentals of the economic and social renewal, on one hand, and the implementation of a modern telecommunication infrastructure, meant to spread the computing applications and ensure good exploitation of the possibilities offered in terms of relationships and technological integration. The information and communication technology sector contributes, according to studies elaborated by international consultancies, to about 25% in the GDP growth of the developed countries. This shows, insists, Mohammed Ghannouchi, that 30% in the improvement of the economic institution and administration productivity result from the spread of modern technologies and of the productive technological systems within the enterprises and that the volume of the digital services using the Internet and communication networks represent , alone  50% of the world service trade. 

Why content ?

In the immaterial economy, there is a need to manage and control all types of electronic information. The enterprise data must be structured ; this is the basis for value added creation. However, today the enterprises and the public administrations have to cope with a huge volume of non-structured  or semi-structured electronic contents and with their diversity , whether they are issued from office documents (texts, tables, etc.), web applications (portals, intranets, extranets, web sites, etc.), or from technical documents, e-mails, etc. According to the last survey of « Markess International » relating to the topic, the major content management stakes are related to collaboration work, better accessibility to contents, sharing knowledge and easier and speedier research. All the economy sector are concerned with the content management. Content creation and management are issues related to knowledge. High debit intranet communication networks which are available today open the way towards innovation, modernisation, creativity and development of electronic exchanges between the various economic, social and cultural partners and actors in different fields relating to electronic administration. E-commerce, virtual banking, distance health services, distance education and training, are practices that should help, today, to create and improve competences, this proves the importance of the content issue, not only in terms of content creation alone, despite all the value it creates, but also through its contribution to the value chain and its huge capacities to create jobs.  

What funds for what Internet uses in Africa?

But even though there is total agreement that content and the value chain to which it contributes represent a good thing, the summit and the participants to the activities will, indeed, have difficulties concerning the financing issue. The satisfaction, expressed by many participants relating to the progress achieved in the last few years in terms of Information and Communication Technologies, faces the problem of financing. Who, other than the industry giants, can prepare the way in the African countries, where the number of high debit Internet clients does not exceed 0.8% for 14% of world population, and which are concentrated in only five countries of the continent. What funds for what infrastructure should be devoted to the African continent which has ambitious objectives by 2012. These are some of the questions to which the participants to this summit of « TIC For All +3 » should provide answers, then, we could deal with the issue of the Internet uses in Africa.


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