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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Shope-Mafole tasks African states on infrastructure investment

Remmy Nweke in Grahamstown, South Africa

The 10th Highway Africa (HA) conference opened Monday in the city of Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa with the Director-General, Department of Communications, South Africa, Ms Lyndall Shope-Mafole, calling on African states to embrace investment in infrastructure, because it is the key to sustainable development.

HA is annual gathering of media practitioners for the promotion and propagation of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) organised by the Rhodes University, Grahamstown, with the theme, “Celebrations, Reflections and Future Directions.”

In her keynote address to the occasion on Africa and Post-World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) entitled “Making South Africa a global leader in harnessing ICT for socio-economic development” Ms Shope-Mafole, said it is high time African leaders and investors alike embrace and focus on infrastructure, stressing it is the only way to strongly develop the continent.

“Investment in infrastructure is the key to sustainable development,” she declared.
Ms Shope-Mafole, who was the chair, Preparatory Committee on WSIS for Africa, noted that there is no way to talk about Africa in the current trend of development without the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

“You can’t talk about Africa without NEPAD,” she declared, emphasising that NEPA has an agenda to facilitate socio-economic development of the continent.

Pointing out NEPAD’s strategic framework document came from the mandate given to the five initiating Heads of State, namely Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa; by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to develop an integrated socio-economic development framework for Africa.

She also said that NEPAD primary objectives include efforts to eradicate poverty and place African countries both individually and collectively on a path of sustainable growth and development.

In addition, she said, NEPAD objectives include to halt the marganisaliation of Africans, by their leaders.

This could be attained with investment in infrastructure both in the cities and rural areas.

“Unless some one is going to give access to the poor and marganialised in the rural areas through infrastructure layout, it would be difficult to eradicate poverty,” she said.

Therefore, she said, investment should be made in infrastructure with enabling good policy frame work.

She emphasised at the session chaired by the Mrs Anne Rachel Inne of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), that this would accelerate socio-economic development of the continent, especially in the areas of ICT.

According to her, “development would not come unless you (African states) and the investment community invest in infrastructure and nobody is going to do that for you.”

She further said that unless Africans put their investments in their own hands, development would continue to elude the continent.

“It would be difficult to see a change in development,” the DG asserted.

Insisting that African development should be led by Africans because aids come with certain conditions, noting that asking for help is good and it’s also good that those who offer you help leave you with some dignity.

Pointing out that African media has a role to play here in setting agenda for the development of Africa, be it on the continent or empowerment of women among others.

Also speaking and corroborating Mafole, chairman of the session, Mrs Inne, said that Africans should arise and take their own destiny into their hands by investing in the future via infrastructure.

Even as this would elevate the much suffering the young and women go through in development of African states.

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