His Excellency Mr Paul Kagame,
President of the Republic of Rwanda
Today more than ever before, the world is recognizing that science,
technology and innovation constitute the anchor for sustainable development.
Modern technologies, particularly the digital revolution, are fast defining a
new world order. Africa must fully embrace digital opportunities to be an
integral part of the emerging global knowledge and information society.
Rwanda is fully involved in this global and African transformation. Our
rebuilding efforts are bearing fruits – based on Rwandan people’s dedication to
reconciliation and reconstruction. Like much of our continent, we are well on
the way to recovery, thanks to economic progress and social transformation
achieved through good, responsive and participatory governance.
To build on this success, we must invest in information and communication
technology (ICT) infrastructure and services. ICT is not only the undisputed
engine of growth for nearly all the sectors of any economy, but also a generator
of wealth and employment in its own right.
The Government of Rwanda is therefore honoured to host the Connect Africa
Summit, 29-30 October, 2007 in Kigali, our capital city. My Government is fully
committed to the goals and ideals of the Summit - to move the ICT infrastructure
agenda for our continent.
I look forward to welcoming to Rwanda all the invited distinguished
government and private-sector leaders, from Africa and the world community, to
help forge the requisite partnerships to prepare Africa to meaningfully
participate in the emerging global economy.
His Excellency Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor,
President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of the African Union
Today we are all committed to the creation of the knowledge and information
society as ICT is no more a matter of choice but a necessity to promote the
creation of access to knowledge in this global society of ours.
We in Africa are poised to actualise the common vision of providing universal
access to ICT so we can benefit from the strength of sharing our connectivity
resources on the continent to achieve our collective developmental objectives,
in particular the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The challenges that confront Africa require the combined effort of our
Governments, Development Partners, Africa’s friendly nations, ICT Industry
Players, Private Business Community, Civil Society, etc to mobilise adequate
resources to develop the needed ICT infrastructure to support the innovative and
creative spirit of our people, propel economic progress and improve the
well-being of our citizens.
It is in this regard that the African Union welcomes and supports the
initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Bank
Group and the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID), in
partnership with the African Development Bank (ADB), the African
Telecommunications Union (ATU), and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
to organise the Connect Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, aimed at taking
concrete steps to ensure universal connectivity for our continent with our own
resources and through international cooperation.
In precise terms I expect the Summit to address Africa’s concerns for: poor
infrastructure, high cost of access to information and knowledge, and
development of the requisite human resources for the promotion of a sustainable
and inclusive Information Society on the continent and beyond. On behalf of the
AU and on my own behalf I am grateful to my brother, His Excellency President
Paul Kagame, for accepting to host this important continental event and I wish
the Summit fruitful deliberations.
Dr Hamadoun Touré
International Telecommunication Union
There is a wide consensus among leaders in Africa and around the world about
the potential for information and communication technologies (ICT) as a catalyst
for development. Nevertheless, we are at serious risk of not achieving
internationally agreed targets for ICTs and development by 2015 in Africa and
other regions. To achieve these goals, we need to combine our
resources and act quickly.
Investment in ICT infrastructure in Africa has improved dramatically in
recent years, representing a total of USD 8 billion in 2005, up from USD 3.5
billion in 2000. These figures reflect an increasingly vibrant private sector
investment environment, especially in mobile telephony, which has been
competition and policy and regulatory reform in most African telecommunication
markets. However, effective Internet services needed for important business,
government and consumer applications continue to be either very expensive or not
available due to limited broadband network infrastructure investment. In
addition, rural connectivity and access remain inadequate as does the
availability of locally relevant content, applications and services. These gaps
present challenges, but they also reveal new opportunities for private investors
and innovative public-private partnerships.
It is my pleasure to join leaders from Africa and around then world for the
Connect Africa Summit to be held in Kigali from 29-30 October 2007. This Summit
will provide a unique platform for executive-level networking,
partnership-building and the mobilizing of resources to address major gaps in
ICT infrastructure needed to accelerate employment, economic growth and
development across the region.