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Gordon Brown Says Africa’s Best Hope is ICT

By Wayan Vota on August 18, 2010


Gordon Brown walking through Kibera Slums with Raila Odinga in 2005

It is interesting to hear Gordon Brown, UK’s most recent past Prime Minister, talk about technology’s opportunity in Africa during an address to the African Union:

“Africa’s best hope for diversification into the high-value sectors is a massive acceleration in the use of IT … 40% of people in Africa have mobiles, but only 10% have access to the internet which offers the chance of a technological leap in the provision of services and for business and citizens. I am working with some of you to bring together experts in this field for a major campaign and programme of work, because I truly believe that the rapid expansion of internet access in Africa could transform how Africa trades, learns and holds political power accountable.”

Now Mr/ brown’s speech was short on details – he only gave general pronouncements – but as we’ve discussed in the past, there are at least two ways the African Union can take ICT seriously:

  1. Open and Competitive ICT Markets
  2. Universal Service Fees used for Universal Access

On both of these points, Mr. Brown could be a great leader. He’s had experience with the UK system of relatively open ICT markets and efficient USF usage. He could lead the African Union in a concerted and honest effort to liberalize ICT across national borders and create programs that actually increase ICT adoption in rural areas.

Success at either one would be a worthy post-Prime Minister achievement equal to anything Tony Blair has accomplished.

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Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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