Information and communication technology (ICT) will be a catalyst in all sectors of the economy in Africa, Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), has said.
A "Marshall Plan" for ICT connectivity was required to provide universal access by 2012, Toure said at a press briefing Sunday, one day before Connect Africa Summit, which is aimed to improve the information and communication technology infrastructure of Africa.
"ICT is a catalyst, an enabler in all sectors of the economy in Africa," he said. "This would be the accelerator to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015."
"Africa has shown us that they are mature enough to know what they should do in the ICT field," said Toure. "We are together here to try and see what we are going to do."
The two-day summit on Monday and Tuesday has attracted 800 participants including more than 30 ministers, leaders of global and African IT companies, leaders from civil society and heads of international and regional development banks.
Toure praised the role played by organizations like the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in promoting ICT in Africa.
Pressing for aggressive action to build ICT infrastructure, Toure urged "pure business sense" instead of "charity."
He said Africa is open for business and looking for partnerships, appealing for the African governments to encourage a business-friendly attractive policy and regulatory environment that fosters innovation, competition and investment.
African countries have registered the world's highest mobile phone growth, ranging from 50 to 400 percent in the last three years, said Toure.
Albert Butare, Minister of State in Charge of Energy and Communication of Rwanda, said that the summit, jointly organized by organizations, including the ITU, AU, the World Bank Group and the ECA, should be a milestone for the ICT industry and economic and social development in Africa.