Govt sees need for SADC interconnectivity

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—-Government says there is need to make interconnectivity of SADC countries a reality so that there is universal access of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in line with Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications, Christopher Yaluma, says this can be done by exploiting the challenges of the sector provided.

Mr Yaluma says growth in regional trade and other contacts through ICTS will also assist in alleviating poverty and improve the social conditions of the people in the region.

He said this during the official opening of the Annual Southern Africa
Telecommunication Association (SATA) conference, held at Courtyard in
Livingstone, which is running under the theme, the ICTs Impact:
Social and Culture.

“If it is our dream to turn SADC into an information based economy, and if we really want to enhance information and communication technologies ICTS in SADC for our people, then we should start to make things happen at SADC level,” he said.

Mr Yaluma observed that the information age is upon the continent, and there is need to exploit the many opportunities so that the country can be competitive.

“The use of ICTs for the preservation of cultural knowledge, properties and heritage, languages and identities including digital art documentation capture legacy and share knowledge with the people of the SADC region,” he said.

He said Government wants to make Zambia an information economic one through the development of the ICT sector.

Mr Yaluma paid tribute to SADC countries for making tremendous progress in the development of telecommunications infrastructure in their respective countries.

And Zamtel chief executive officer, Mupanga Mwanakatwe, said Zamtel is aware that there are challenges of reaching out to the people in the most remote villages.

“We must ensure that our region is not left behind and the existing digital divide is further widened,” he said.

He explained that there is a need to define ways and means of creating opportunities for economic development and entrepreneurship.

The minister said there is need to reduce the reliance of Africa on external support for the development of ICT.

And SATA executive director, Jacob Munodawafa, said ICTs play a critical role of interlinking the different sectors of the economy, linking the vast continents and connecting people worldwide for business, social or research purposes.

Mr Munodawafa noted that Southern Africa has been one of the great success stories in terms of ICTS development over recent years, especially concerning mobile telephon, with mobile cellular penetration in southern Africa jumping from just 12.4 per cent in 2005 to more than 90 per cent in the space of only seven years in most countries.

He added that innovative use of information and communication technologies to provide low cost solutions have gone a long way in supporting strategies in different areas and help in advancing the regional and world economies.