ICT Ministers promote future-oriented, intelligent digital infrastructure for Africa
From left to right: Hon. Thulagano Merafe Segokgo, Minister of Communications, Knowledge and Technology, Republic of Botswana; Hon. Philly Mapulane, Deputy Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies, South Africa; Hon Dr. T. A. Mavetera, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, the Republic of Zimbabwe; Ms. Nonkqubela Thathakahle Jordan-Dyani, Director-General in the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, South Africa; Hon. Nape Moses Nnauye, Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, United Republic of Tanzania and John OMO, Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union (ATU)
Cape Town, 16 November – Ministers of Communications and Digital Technologies and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) member states, convened in Cape Town, South Africa, for the Ministerial Forum on Building a Future-Oriented, Intelligent Digital Infrastructure for Africa. The Forum was co-organised by the ATU and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) of South Africa, with the aim of advancing the digital transformation agenda in Africa. The event concluded with the signing of a joint communique underlining the importance of collaboration between all stakeholders in building a future-oriented digital infrastructure for Africa.
Taking place alongside AfricaCom, the continent’s premier ICT conference and exhibition, the forum provided a platform for dialogue and an exchange of views on the development of a future-oriented intelligent digital infrastructure in Africa, which is essential for achieving the socio-economic development goals of the continent.
The event comes at a time when the development of the global digital economy has brought focus on the need for Africa to strengthen the construction of high-speed networks (4G, 5G and fibre), the implementation of high-performance cloud computing capabilities.
John Omo, Secretary General, African Telecommunications Union (ATU)
“In the space in which this forum operates, we have the ability to create consensus on which way to go in building future-oriented digital infrastructure for Africa,” said African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Secretary General, John Omo. “We know the place of digital infrastructure in the global arithmetic that defines the compass of progress. We also know that to find our bearing on this compass, we must be deliberate about the actions we take to protect the future of Africa.”
“I must note that it is also through the synergy of governments, private sector entities, research institutions, and international organisations that we can realise the full potential of our collective efforts,” he added. “What this means is that inclusivity should be a guiding principle as we shape the future of digital infrastructure. We must ensure that the benefits of technological advancements reach every corner of society, leaving no one behind.”
Philly Mapulane, Deputy Minister, Department of Communications & Digital Technologies
South African Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Philly Mapulane concurred with the need for collaboration by players across the sector.
“This gathering marks a significant milestone in our collective pursuit of a digitally empowered Africa,” he said. “We are here not merely as representatives of our respective nations and organisations, but we are here as architects of a shared vision — one that envisions an Africa propelled into a future where the possibilities of connectivity are boundless.”
“Today, we are not just building a digital infrastructure; we are laying the foundation for the socio-economic emancipation of our continent,” he added. “Let us envision a future where our digital infrastructure is seamless, intelligent, and accessible to all.”
Leo Chen, President, Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa
Leo Chen, President of Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa, underlined how much progress the continent has made when it comes to building the digital infrastructure it needs while also outlining the areas that still need improvement. These improvements, he said, are best achieved through the One Network, One Cloud approach advocated by Huawei.
“To build One Network, countries should continue to build national broadband backbone networks to serve as the arteries of national network connectivity,” he said. “In addition, such backbone networks should be extensible across multiple domains.”
“This means they should be able to connect to different metropolitan area networks and campus networks,” he added. “Similar to a highly-developed neural network, they will connect the last mile of connectivity to meet the needs of different scenarios.”
According to Chen, the benefits of such a network would be considerable. Among the benefits he listed were increased GDPs for countries across the region, enhanced government service delivery, and improved connectivity for individual households. He also mentioned that due to the coverage gap on the continent, it is still important to cover more people through wireless connectivity technologies, such as 4G and 5G, and through rural connectivity solutions, such as Huawei’s RuralStar.”
In dissecting the “One Cloud” segment of the approach, Chen outlined how important cloud technologies have become at a nation-state level.
“The national cloud platform can serve as the foundation for a country’s advanced technological innovation, and can greatly improve the capabilities of governments and enterprises to adopt new technologies,” he said.
“With the national cloud platform and cloud infrastructure, African countries can also unlock huge potential in the ‘e-government’ cloud,” he added. “One example from China can represent a future trend. In Shenzhen, where Huawei is headquartered, citizens can complete almost all of the government service items with at most one visit to the service office, or without even making a physical visit at all.”
According to Chen, “to implement One Network, One Cloud and ensure its steady progress, the governments of all countries should provide strategic guidance and support through specific policies.”
“As we continue our digital transformation journeys, it is important that we share our collective wisdom, vision, and resolve,” Chen concluded. “Thus, it is very important that we share different experiences and best practices across the continent when building the ‘One Network and One Cloud’.”
Other dignitaries echoed the importance of collaboration for the future of African digital infrastructure.
“It’s key that we work collaboratively to ensure that connection costs don’t become a barrier to connectivity for our citizens,” said Thulagano Merafe Segokgo, Minister of Communications, Knowledge and Technology, The Republic of Botswana. “If we are going to achieve connectivity at the level our citizenries deserve, we must work together.”
“Collaborating is an important aspect if we want to achieve our goals,” said Nape Moses Nnauye,
Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, The United Republic of Tanzania. “Let’s see how we can work together and face the challenges together.”
“We need greater collaboration,” said Dr. T A Mavetera, Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, the Republic of Zimbabwe, who added that this collaboration should extend beyond digital infrastructure and include things like skills transfer and policy formulation.
The communique, issued at the end of the gathering, committed the African countries present to, “collaborate and align our policies and strategies to promote the development of digital infrastructure in Africa, in line with the African Union Agenda 2063, the ATU Strategic Plan 2020-2024, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals among other things.
In an example of the collaboration called for, the event also saw the presentation of the South African Fibre Broadband Development Initiative, a partnership between the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), the Digital Council Africa (DCA) and Africa Analysis, it’s a position paper titled Toward a Gigabit Society in South Africa. The paper analyses the positive impact that increased fixed broadband adoption will have in SA from a social and economic perspective. It outlines the current status and challenges, and proposes recommendations on strategy and policy interventions to turn South Africa into a gigabit society.
(Mwebantu, Friday, 17th November, 2023)
Huawei’s Ken Hu says 5G drives multi-sector growth
Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, Ken Hu has said that 5G has become a cross-cutting driver for growth, making many sectors commercially viable.
Speaking during the 14th Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) being held in Dubai, Mr. Hu noted that the capabilities of 5G have given great access to mobile service providers to improve their B2B solutions while giving sectors such as the mines and manufacturing commercial viability.
“Clearly 5G has become a new growth engine for mobile operators and I think the biggest difference is that 5G capabilities gave the industry a great opportunity to gain access into B2B markets. After 4 years, we have identified some key scenarios such as remote-controlled machines and we have also identified sectors such as mining and manufacturing where we can scale up commercial capabilities” Mr. Hu said.
The Chairman also pointed out that 5G has grown from trial to become commercially viable, adding that the world has at least 260 5G networks covering almost half of the global population. He also revealed that there are nearly 1.5 billion 5G users in the world currently and that the adoption of 5G is better than 4G.
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA backed Hu’s sentiments adding that the participation of non-tech companies such as fintech, aviation in 5G is more than 50% as they equally want to understand how they can leverage its capabilities. Mr. Granryd explained that 5G is a good run and will be even be a better run in the coming years.
Even though 5G roll out is in its budding stages in Zambia, the appetite to deploy it on a large scale especially by telco’s like MTN remains assuring. In January 2023, MTN Zambia launched the first ever commercial 5G in Zambia, promising to transform businesses and livelihood beyond simple connectivity. There statement read.
With countries like Botswana already exploring 5G capabilities in the mining sector, there is no doubt that 5G equally presents a great opportunity for Zambia’s extractive industry.
Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are among the pioneers of 5G internet in Africa.
This year’s MBBF delves into insights that makes the industry understands why there should be massive acceleration to 5G deployment.
The MBBF originally started in Oslo in 2012, since then it has been an annual event that provides a platform for the captains of the industry to discuss mobile communications at length and also share best insights and trends across the world. This year’s forum will incorporate both online and onsite activities, providing an exciting opportunity for players in the mobile and adjacent vertical ecosystems to explore 5G business success, promote ecosystem maturity, and accelerate 5.5G commercialization.
Government Signs MoU with Huawei to Promote Digital Transformation
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Zambia and Huawei, which will promote the country’s digital transformation.
On 11 September 2023, the Ministry of Technology and Science of Zambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Huawei to promote digital transformation.
The agreement was signed by Zambia’s Minister of Technology and Science Felix Mutati and Huawei’s Vice President of Southern Africa Region Phil Li, at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China. The MoU is aimed at realizing a digitalized future for Zambia by improving ICT infrastructure, promoting the adoption of renewable energy, supporting innovation, and expanding access to reliable and affordable digital services across the country.
On 11 September 2023, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema gave a speech at the MoU signing ceremony at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony, President Hichilema stated that, “We recognise the urgent need to rapidly develop our country’s digital platforms as part of our smart economic transformation agenda. We therefore consider Huawei as a reliable partner in this regard, with their innovations and pioneering strength in ICT technologies driven by its heavy R&D investment.” He also congratulated Huawei on its achievements in cultivating Zambia’s ICT talents, “We look forward to working with Huawei even more closely to foster a flourishing ICT ecosystem in Zambia.”
Speaking at the event, Leo Chen, Huawei’s President of Southern Africa Region, stated that the agreement marks a new milestone in the collaboration between the Zambian government and Huawei. He also said that, inspired by the Zambian government’s vision of achieving its Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP), Huawei is fully committed to contributing more to Zambia’s industry digitalization and ICT infrastructure development, especially in rural areas.
Mr. Chen also emphasized the importance of building a flourishing ICT talent ecosystem to underpin the country’s future development. “Huawei is fully behind the Zambian government’s commitment to equip its younger generations with digital skills. Huawei will continuously provide training to young people in Zambia so they can participate in and benefit from the digital economy,” said Chen.
Since establishing its first office in Zambia in 2004, Huawei has been working with partners to provide digital services and build secure and stable ICT infrastructure including data centres and wireless networks such as 4G and 5G. In the MOU, the two parties agreed to promote rural connectivity. Hundreds of villages across Zambia are expected to benefit from it.
“Inclusive connectivity allows the government to deliver better services, businesses to achieve better growth, and people to live better lives. Therefore, we must continue to enhance the inclusiveness of digital infrastructure and digital services, which is one of the key elements of the MoU that we signed today,” said the Minister Mutati.