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Technology Summit in Rwanda Aims to Spur African Development

  • Noel King

Heads of state and representatives from some of the world's leading information technology companies have descended on the Rwandan capital, Kigali, for the Connect Africa Leaders' summit set to begin Monday. Noel King has this report from Kigali.

African development hinges upon investment and aggressive policies to develop communications technologies rather than dependence on foreign aid, said Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general the U.N. International Telecommunication Union.

Toure spoke to journalists in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

"For the past 50 years of African independence we have been talking about help, assistance, and we did not go anywhere with that," he said. "We are well aware of one thing. No one will take off, will get rich from handouts and charity. That is why we are here: we are saying we mean business. Africa is open for business and we are looking for partnerships."

Toure vowed that the ITU and partner organizations will help African nations reach U.N. Millennium Development Goals in information technology and communications three years before the 2015 deadline expires.

The Millennium Development Goals aim to reduce poverty, disease and illiteracy in developing nations.

The secretary-general said he estimates IT companies will invest $300 billion in Africa's burgeoning telecommunications industry over the next five years.

Organizers say Rwanda's stable political climate has allowed the developing nation to make great strides in the field of communications.

Rwanda is to ink memorandums of understanding with industry leaders, Microsoft and Cisco, as well as with the Indian government.

Ministers of technology from India and China were to attend the summit, which attracted 1,000 participants, more than double the number expected, organizers said.

The two-day summit was organized by a number of stakeholders, including the U.N. International Telecommunication Union, the African Union and the World Bank.

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