If Africa is to grow economies faster, one way of doing this is by improving broadband penetration; according to Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana.
Nsengimana says the improvement in penetration was currently being hampered by the huge expense of devices. He made the comments at the Africa Development Bank’s annual meeting that explored avenues to expedite smart Africa initiatives through ICT (information and communications technology – or technologies).
He also said countries that have been relying on taxing ICTs to meet their budget deficits are finding it difficult to part with revenue from that sector.
“Taxing the ICT sector from the production side is the wrong concept; the right thing to do is applying taxation at the consumption level,” Nsengimana told CNBC Africa.
“We need to keep investing in our education system and nurturing the talents we have in the region.”
He also said ICT cuts across everything from agriculture, access and quality of education, industrialisation and energy.
“We could be doing a lot more by connecting our people to broadband, putting services online and improving people’s lifestyles through the use of ICT,” he added.
There have been concerns of digital colonialism as 90 per cent of profits from apps go to U.S, Asia and Europe. Nsengimana does not agree.
“The internet is an open platform, those who are maximising on profits are just industry leaders and we are followers. The situation is currently skewed in favour of the U.S as most popular apps and services come from over the top players from that economy,” he said.
“We are however seeing a big movement in Africa as a result of innovation hubs; there is hope for the future. As Africans we should know that we are not just a hub of consumption of these innovations but we have space to produce these same innovations.”