African leaders have been advised to place people at the centre of learning Information Communication Technology (ICT) to enhance sustainable development and improve quality of lives on the continent.
Mr Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman Of National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), gave the advice at the opening of a Regional Development Forum and Regional Preparatory meeting in Accra on Tuesday.
He said development without people at the centre is an aberration.
The conference, which is on the theme: “ICT for development and empowerment of Africa,” is an opportunity for stakeholders to share knowledge and experience on ways of enhancing Broadband sustainability, Broadband Applications for Development Empowerment and create a safer cyberspace.
Mr Obeng said given that ICT has become a dynamic tool for stimulating economic growth, African governments must champion development of infrastructure and make its use friendly.
He said governments could translate textbooks into ICT compatible for use at all levels of the educational ladder, and introduce ICT at early stages for children.
Mr Obeng called on leaders to raise sufficient resources to put up modern ICT infrastructure for citizens to realize their potentials and improve sustainable livelihood.
However, he said, as much as there is the need to expand broadband services, the consequences of cyber security must not be taken for granted.
Mr Braimah Sanou, Director, Telecommunications Development Bureau, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said countries must develop local content to suit the aspirations of respective environments.
He said this would ensure proper applications of ICT in financial institutions, education, healthcare delivery, transportation, agriculture and other sectors of the economy.
Mr Sanou noted that ICT must be defined in a way to stimulate social and economic improvement of the people and to make equal opportunity and access a guiding principle.
“Let’s come together and put a human face to ICT in our vision,” he said.
Dr Edward Omane Boamah, Minister of Communications, said the industrial and agricultural revolutions have bypassed Africa, but this should not be the case for ICT, despite the fact that in the wake of globalisation, Africans face development handicaps.
He said ICT play a vital role in disaster prevention and management while spurring development in all aspects of human endeavours.
Dr Boamah said the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals would be a mirage if Africans do not appropriately harness and utilise ICT.
The conference is a demonstration of the African’s commitment to use ICT to accelerate development and also to explore and improve the living conditions of people on the continent, he said.