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Africa ready for broader ICT collab, says minister

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 27 May 2024
Africa Day is commemorated annually on 25 May.
Africa Day is commemorated annually on 25 May.

Communications minister Mondli Gungubele has emphasised the need for collaboration among African countries, in order to build a collective future in the digital era.

The minister was speaking on the occasion of this year’s Africa Day, which was celebrated over the weekend.

Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union (AU), on 25 May 1963. The day is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.

This year’s Africa Day was held under the theme: “Educate an African fit for the 21st century”, encouraging member states to build resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa.

Noting the progress African countries have made in regards to internet usage, Gungubele stressed that the future requires universal digital connectivity.

“When celebrating this day, we remember the strides that we have taken as the people. African countries have realised the need to invest in digital infrastructure to keep up with demands of the digital age.

“At a time when the continent is experiencing rapid population growth and urbanisation, the importance of digital infrastructure cannot be overstated. There is a growing trend of collaboration among African nations to pool resources and expertise to develop and maintain digital infrastructure.

“By working together, African countries can share the cost of building and maintaining digital infrastructure, making it more affordable for each country.”

The minister said the rise of Africa’s population is further expected to drive demand for digital services.

According to statistics from the African Union, 473 million African are online today, with an additional 300 million likely to join by 2025. “Achieving and surpassing this penetration level is crucial to Africa’s future growth,” Gungubele stated.

Also commemorating Africa Day were Parliament’s presiding officers – Lechesa Tsenoli and Amos Masondo – noting this year’s celebration coincides with the last days of the sixth parliamentary term and comes days before SA’s national and provincial elections on 29 May.

The presiding officers echoed the AU Agenda 2063 objectives, calling on all Africans, governments of the world and multilateral institutions to reflect on and pledge their commitment to achieving the goal of a conflict-free continent.

In addition, they said Parliament views Africa Day as a rallying point for every African country and their governments to reflect and act to improve the lives of African people.

“We must all strive to make education accessible to all children in Africa and not to bequeath the burden of illiteracy and conflicts to future generations.

“As the South African nation celebrates 30 years of a democratic Parliament, we do so with a broader appreciation of the support we enjoyed from African countries.

“The AU remains a beacon of hope and star that guided our struggle for freedom. It is one of the international sources we drew on for morale and material support that helped us to defeat the monster of the Apartheid regime.”