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The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said that time has come for Africa to have a common reporting framework on ICT and development in order to understand and manage the growth of the sector in the continent
The call was made by Mr. Kasirim Nwuke, Chief, New Technologies and Innovation Section of the Economic Commission for Africa ( ECA) at the annual review and follow up of the progress in achieving the World Summit on Information (WSIS) outcomes organised by the ECA.
The meeting which ends today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia featured discussion on critical issues bordering on the rise of the financial technology (fintech) industry in Africa and the increasing challenge of cyber-security; an All-of-Africa indicator framework for ICT measurement in the context of the SDGs and the AU’s Agenda 2063; Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) transition; and emerging Internet governance issues, the release indicated.
Mr Nwuke said “The data burden on National Statistical Offices is so huge that for the most part, data on ICT for African countries are produced and disseminated by providers. Such data are in many countries grouped in a manner reflecting the structure of operations of the operators.”
He pointed out the practice of grouping African countries in operator-generated reports as the most pressing issue from policy perspectives.
According to him, “In some reports, the whole continent is grouped with the Middle East – a sub-region of the Asian continent. In others, North Africa is grouped with the Middle East; and countries south of the Sahara are grouped together as sub-Sahara Africa.
He disclosed further that some reports even exclude South Africa and Nigeria because of the size of their markets, making meaningful Africa-wide assessment difficult,” he lamented.
Nwuke therefore urged participants to carefully interrogate the emerging issues, propose a set of recommendations and policy actions that could serve as a means for African countries to harness the possibilities that these new technologies present while managing out the risks.
Over 32 countries assembled in Addis Ababa for the meeting and the experts in attendance are also focusing on emerging issues in ICT in relation to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.