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The role of ICTs in Africa’s sustainable and inclusive development: understanding the capacity challenges

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This is the title of the recently published memoirs by the Rt. Honourable Saulos Klaus Chilima (PhD), the Vice President of the Republic of Malawi. This is part of the ACBF African Development Memoirs Series. The African Capacity Building Foundation’s Development Memoirs Series is a key instrument in the Foundation’s knowledge management strategy aimed at harnessing the know-how and learned experiences of eminent senior policymakers and development managers.

In this piece the Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilima notes that despite the many ICT related challenges, namely connectivity issues, economic challenges and other infrastructural issues bedevilling the African continent, Africa should take steps to promote ICTs and achieve the post-2015 development agenda for digital society. Furthermore, African governments must show a commitment to the ICT policies and strategies as these are a bedrock of sustainable development. Such policies should also infuse the ICT agenda into the respective economies, in the education systems, in national budgets, health and agriculture. Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilima identified six major ongoing initiatives encompassing e-government, e-education, e-infrastructure, digital repositories, e-health and e-banking.

This memoir also includes an interview with Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilima where he shares his views and experiences on ICTs in Malawi and Africa. He underscored the tremendous work that has been done within the context of major projects such as the East African Submarine Cable System and The East African Marine System. In his response to the findings of the International Telecommunication Union facts and figures of 2015, where they established that mobile broadband penetration in Africa  was less than 20%; Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilima noted that the cost of  equipment was higher than the people’s income level – the human development indicators for the African region state that most people earn less than $2 a day.

However, Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilima noted that the opportunity of ICTs use vis-à-vis the role of women and girls within the framework of national and regional socioeconomic sustainable development. He noted that women and girls are slowly using SMS and mobile phones in maternal health issues, agricultural marketing information and in education. Rt. Hon. Dr. Chilima thereafter shared three success stories from Malawi. These are:-

  • Success story #1: Women entrepreneurial ventures in Malawi
  • Success story #2: Women and market information system in Malawi
  • Success story #3: ICT increased the quality and accessibility of community reproductive health services

This full memoir can be downloaded here.