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Friday, October 13, 2006

AfDB says ICT holds promise for Africa dev

Remmy Nweke who was in Abuja

African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) holds significant promise for the continent.

Speaking through its Information Technology and Communications specialist, Mr. Cornelius Ozor, AfDB said in its “Role in ICT development and the bank support to private sector,” that the financial institution is providing instruments and windows for ICT development.

Mr. Ozor, who spoke at the Connecting Rural Communities Africa 2006 in Abuja, outlined that ICT is the leverage path that holds significant promise for improving efficiency in the delivery of socio-economic improvements.

Describing it as a tool for good governance, he said that it gives boost to electronic governance through quality of service that is rendered to the populace, effectiveness, trust, accountability and reduces cost of running government administration.

ICT, he said, is a catalyst that bridges the economic and social gaps that divide the world, describing digital divide as a “trap of social exclusion and marginalisation of the poor.”

Mr. Ozor also described ICT as a major driver in the global revolution whose impact transcends communications and information sectors to all levels of production process and trade.

Therefore, “ICT complements, rather than replace investments in traditional development efforts” he said, stressing that this description negates what some critics felt about ICT; in that scarce resources should be used to fight extreme poverty, hunger, deprivations and diseases.

Emphasising that AfDB’s intention is to make it happen by supporting the creation of enabling environments through sector policies, institutional capacity building and infrastructure financing.

“Building human capacity through support of education initiatives that promote knowledge, skills and implementation of ‘eee’s – e-governance, e-health, ecommerce, e-agric,” he asserted.

Mr. Ozor further said that the bank group, has a menu of instruments and windows for financing ICTs that could cater for its various stakeholders.

AfDB’s ICT interventions, he said, cut across a range of sectors and are carried out in phases, evolving policy, regulatory, economic, and social environments.

Pointing out that most ADB resources and projects are streamlined to benefit the Regional Member Countries (RMCs), which must be based on credit worthiness and gross domestic product (GDP) related considerations.

Currently, he said, that Nigeria and Zimbabwe are credit worthy within the bank’s RMC for concessional financing loan from its ADF window.This is among the 38 RMCs that are unable to borrow at market rates under the ADB window.

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