TUNISIA: African centre for excellence in ICT

As part of its efforts to promote the development of the African scientific workforce, Tunisia will establish the Africa Centre for Excellence in Information and Communication Technologies, or CAETIC.

The Tunisian proposal was approved at the 17th African Union summit, which took place under the theme "Accelerating Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development" from 23 June-1 July in Malabo, Republic of Equatorial Guinea.

Supported by the African Development Bank group and the African Development Fund, the Tunis-based ICT centre will be positioned as a "training centre for senior managers and decision-makers in the ICT sector. It will also be a research centre for the African administrators and suppliers of specialised ICT services," according to a status report.

As University World News previously reported, in April Tunisia consolidated its position as Africa's leader in information and communication technologies, coming 35th globally - followed by Mauritius at 45 and South Africa at 61 - in the 10th anniversary edition of the world ICT report, under the theme 'Transformations 2.0', published by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum and French management school INSEAD.

But the majority of countries in Africa lag in the bottom half.

Tunisia was also ranked first on the continent with regard to the quality of its educational system, maths and science education, capacity for innovation, availability of scientists and engineers, and local availability of specialised research and training services.

"It is a great step that shows Tunisia is really making progress in the ICT sector in the country and in comparison to other places. We are a leader, especially in Africa," said Ibrahim Abuzeikr, a Tunis-based information technology analyst.

In other African ICT-related news, the African Development Fund is supporting the establishment of the Rwanda-based Regional ICT Centre of Excellence Project.

It will focus on building capacity for high-level training (at the masters and PhD levels), and enhancing research and innovation in order to boost the development of the ICT sector. It is envisaged the project will have the additional spinoff of helping to improve delivery of social services.

The project is to be implemented by Rwanda's Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research in cooperation with the US-based Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

In addition, the African Development Fund will establish the High Tech Centre of Mali, with a focus on training university students. The country's small and medium-sized enterprises, the ICT industry and the public sector all desperately need an ICT workforce. The centre will also offer business incubation programmes, and tuition via distance learning.

"This is a good step towards African technology independence through promoting capacity building, and a vital example of enhancing ICT development through South-South collaboration among African countries," Mamadou Goita, special advisor to the director-general of the Mali-based Rural Economy Institute, told University World News.

And in a related African ICT development, the African Education Summit held under the theme "Agenda for Investment in Technology and Infrastructure", which took place in Rabat, Morocco, in July, has called for expansion of bandwidth, investment in ICT, building research networks, developing digital campuses, utilising wireless technologies, and developing centres of excellence in science and technology, as well as encouraging investment in African institutes of technology.

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