Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Digital Inclusion

Public and Private Collaboration Spearheading ICT Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Article Image
"As big as our problems are, so too is our capacity to solve them." This was the major consensus among the most prominent members of both the private and public sphere who are currently providing the steer in Sub-Saharan connectivity and energy development.

On the first day of the most recent Africacom, the region's largest technology and telecommunications event that is now in its 20th year, three of the foremost figures in their respective sectors came together to discuss why the African tech and telecommunications sectors are a cause for optimism.

Representing the public sector during this panel discussion was Dr Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, South Africa's Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister, who has been at the helm in navigating the debate surrounding South Africa's spectrum allocation through the nation's new ICT whitepaper. Joining him in the debate was Chris Daniels, Vice President at Facebook's Internet.org and Thione Niang, the US Ambassador for Energy and Co-Founder of Akon Lighting Africa.

Speaking about the overarching framework of the South African ICT whitepaper and the opportunities for OTTs, Dr Cwele stated that, with regards to "white spaces, exploiting cheaper access frequencies, we have allowed a lot of companies to experiment with that. If you check our new policy we have chosen not to regulate, for now, those over-the-tops [OTTs] for the next 10 years. It would really depend on the balance of evidence as to whether we need [to regulate] or should we allow the entrepreneurs to exploit those opportunities."

Where South African entrepreneurs and emerging OTTs are concerned, this is a definite cause for optimism in the sector, but there are even larger developments ahead – or above one's head, for that matter. Facebook's Aquila project -- a solar powered drone that provides Internet connectivity -- was a much discussed innovation. Speaking about this "work of science fiction novels," Chris Daniels notes that the Aquila team has made considerable progress and now it has to "put a communication payload on it that's going to beam down Internet access, but frankly I think a lot of the hard work […] is now behind us, now that we know that the platform can fly. So we are very optimistic about Aquila but we are also generally optimistic about connectivity -- we believe the world is going to bring itself online."

Spearheading Africa's access to reliable energy provisioning is Senegal-born US Ambassador for Energy, Thione Niang. Under the banner of Akon Lighting Africa, affordable solar energy has now been successfully rolled out to 480 communities. For Niang: "If you don't have energy there is no use for it [the Internet] -- for you to be able to sell your Internet [users] have to be able to charge their phones or computers, so this is fundamental."

Innovations such as those from Akon Lighting Africa are indicative of not only the sense of optimism within the African technology sector but also the strong ties being forged between the private and public sector. Speaking on how Akon Lighting Africa's solutions are installed, Niang states that this is a three-step process that hinges on the public-private partnership with local governments, which then leads to the provisioning of public infrastructure which is funded by government, with their mini grid systems being plugged into that infrastructure. This close collaboration has led to 1,200 micro-grids being installed and more than 5,000 jobs being created in 15 countries.

Watch the full LeadersIn Africa Keynote discussion with those driving the change they want to see on the continent:

If you're interested in African socioeconomic empowerment through connectivity, then why not attend one of Connecting Africa's series of events?

Upcoming events:

East Africa Com 17 - 18 May, Nairobi
West Africa Com 11 - 12 July, Dakar
Nigeria Com 20 - 21 September, Lagos
AfricaCom 6 - 10 November, Cape Town

Be part of the African tech and telco conversation here:

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Instagram

— Amy Turner, Digital Content Marketer, KNect365

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up