The second Africa Information & Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA) Summit that took place in Egypt November 2014 highlighted the importance of eHealth in transforming African economies.
ICT ministers and policy makers from across the continent, including South Africa, attended the summit to share their experiences about implementing ICT strategies that are in line with the ‘smart Africa’ vision of bringing Africa into the digital age. These initiatives primarily focused on eHealth, eAgriculture and eGovernment.
The event was a joint initiative by AfICTA, a private sector-led alliance of stakeholders that make up the ICT sector in Africa, and local host association member Egypt Information Telecommunications, Electronics, and Software Alliance (EITESAL).
AfICTA is composed of members from 19 African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, and Rwanda, and includes ICT associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and institutions.
According to the official summit report, during the eHealth session experts shared “case studies, success stories, strategies and initiatives undertaken across the continent.” Special focus was given to the importance of delivering health services in a “timely and affordable manner to rural areas,” thereby emphasising the necessity of eHealth technology by “embracing and encouraging innovative and affordable solutions.”
mHealth and telemedicine were identified as key mechanisms through which to “provide eHealth solutions,” and that medical education could be substantially improved using cloud-based remote courses through eLearning.
Experts recommended Public Private Partnership (PPP) protocols as a viable solution to strategy implementation. The report goes on to mention that it was proposed for governments to “focus more on regulatory functions rather than being service providers.” During the eGovernment panel, experts and consultants shared best-practices and case studies from different countries, followed by discussions where they analysed solutions to help “improve government processes, services offered to citizens and building external interaction with non-governmental institutions.”
It was also noted that governments and societies need to be aware of the benefits of technologies and eGovernment services before using them. “African governments should engage more with the private sector to work on eGovernment solutions with a real impact for citizens.”
Under the Cairo Declaration participants agreed to adopt a multi-stakeholder approach to articulate and promote ICT strategies and policies across the continent, as well as to adopt programmes to foster knowledge-based economies.
“We are encouraging private and civil society organisations to motivate their governments to adopt such strategies and policies,” said the report.