Foundation Unveils Digital Inclusion Plan 

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Emma Okonji

The African ICT Foundation, (AFICTF) has unveiled a two-year digital inclusion development plan for the continent.

The plan targets policy and infrastructure issues on Internet of Things (IoTs), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data.

The foundation is non-governmental organisation established in 2009. It was recently rejigged to focus on issues that bothers on Africa’s digital inclusion.

The development plan was unveiled at the inauguration of the new Board of Trustees (BOT), chaired by the former Director of Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission, (NCC), Mr. Tony Ojobo, which held in Lagos. 

Ojobo, who doubles as the Chairman of the BOT and President of the foundation, in his inaugural speech also declared a state of emergency on internet penetration, adding that Africa needs a declaration of emergency in the area of ICT developments and innovation.

According to him, in the next two years, the foundation would consciously be making efforts towards holistic involvement in research and educational activities that involves setting the policy agenda on technological innovations, information and communication technology (ICT), trade and globalisation and clean energy.

He stated that the foundation would be getting Africa’s private sector support on critical industry issues that affect the growth of Africa’s economy while also working with policymakers to develop and promote policies and ideas, capitalising on the tremendous economic and social benefits that ICT provides for Africans.

Ojobo, noted that AFICTF would be encouraging adherence to high standard of research, empowerment and integrity with an internal code of ethics grounded in analytical rigor, policy pragmatism, and independence from external direction or bias.

He said a key aspect of the development of digital inclusion in Africa would be to promote skills sustainable for the development of African nationhood, reduce the level of illiteracy and poverty in the society as well as engage African youths on information technology (IT) exchange programmes.

Ojobo, noted the need for nations in the continent to be aware of the capabilities that ICT offers in terms of GDP growth and job creation, stressing that access is critical to making this happen, especially in terms of availability and affordability. 

“Our leaders need to embrace the use of ICT through its adoption for ease of business and processes required for industrial growth. Technology not applied cannot deliver the desired dividends,” Ojobo said.

He disclosed that part of the foundation’s strategy to achieve its objective, was through partnerships/collaborations, funding, advocacies and sensitisation, as well as capacity building/training, while stressing that true partnerships between governments and non-government actors are essential to addressing a problem as complex as ICT penetration in Africa.