Africa needs IT for business growth

Africa needs IT for business growth

“WE are going to build highly competent business incubation centres in Windhoek, other parts of Namibia and around the SADC”, Tom Mukaiwa of BITS said yesterday.

BITS (Business Information Technology Solutions) is one of the Namibian partners of Information Technology in African Business (IT@AB), a capacity-building network of 31 member organisations from seven countries in the SADC. Mukaiwa is lobbying for the fist Business Incubation Center to be built in Windhoek.At the four-day workshop that started at the University of Namibia (UNAM) on Tuesday, (IT@AB), called on participants to discuss inter-regional collaboration.Regarding information technology, Mukaiwa said that a ‘quantum leap’ in development was needed in Africa and that IT@AB’s strategy was to shortcut the process through the wholesale importing of technology to leapfrog digital-divide obstacles.UNAM and Telecom Namibia are the other two Namibian partners spear-heading the initiative.The German government and InWent (Capacity Building International, Germany) have been staunch supporters of the initiative since its inception in 2001.The workshop played host to representatives from universities, IT consultancies, Internet service and application providers, trade promotion institutions and other training institutions from Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia.At the opening, Mukaiwa said the initiative – involving a group of private individuals collaborating with public entities – was something that had never been attempted in Africa before.The exploration of public-private partnerships and the interaction with donor communities was of particular interest to the workshop participants.IT@AB’s main objective was to promote the adoption and infusion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into regional Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and State Enterprises (SE) as an enabling tool to foster sustainable economic development.Using open-source (free-to-download) programmes and operating systems as well as providing training and equipment support, IT@AB aims to incubate businesses as well as to nurture and support them while instilling ICT proficiency and building capacity until the businesses grew strong enough to stand on their own.Then new ideas could be incubated.InWent and the World Bank are expected to help fund the business incubator initiative.Mukaiwa is lobbying for the fist Business Incubation Center to be built in Windhoek.At the four-day workshop that started at the University of Namibia (UNAM) on Tuesday, (IT@AB), called on participants to discuss inter-regional collaboration.Regarding information technology, Mukaiwa said that a ‘quantum leap’ in development was needed in Africa and that IT@AB’s strategy was to shortcut the process through the wholesale importing of technology to leapfrog digital-divide obstacles.UNAM and Telecom Namibia are the other two Namibian partners spear-heading the initiative.The German government and InWent (Capacity Building International, Germany) have been staunch supporters of the initiative since its inception in 2001.The workshop played host to representatives from universities, IT consultancies, Internet service and application providers, trade promotion institutions and other training institutions from Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia.At the opening, Mukaiwa said the initiative – involving a group of private individuals collaborating with public entities – was something that had never been attempted in Africa before.The exploration of public-private partnerships and the interaction with donor communities was of particular interest to the workshop participants.IT@AB’s main objective was to promote the adoption and infusion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) into regional Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and State Enterprises (SE) as an enabling tool to foster sustainable economic development.Using open-source (free-to-download) programmes and operating systems as well as providing training and equipment support, IT@AB aims to incubate businesses as well as to nurture and support them while instilling ICT proficiency and building capacity until the businesses grew strong enough to stand on their own.Then new ideas could be incubated.InWent and the World Bank are expected to help fund the business incubator initiative.

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