No-one doubts that information and communication technologies (ICTs) make a substantial contribution to development, even in the poorest countries.
Indeed, many have suggested that such technologies are helping developing countries to leap-frog the earlier stages of industrial transformation that the so-called developed countries have each had to pass through, offering a quick route to social and economic development.
But developing countries, particularly those with a weak research and development base – as is the case in most of Africa – will not be able to achieve this on their own. They need support and assistance from countries that already have high level of ICT skills.
For the next two days (28 and 29 November) more than 200 ICT experts and stakeholders will be attending the ‘2012 Africa-EU Cooperation Forum on ICT’, being held in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
The meeting aims to strengthen and support the development of cooperation on ICT research and ICT for Development (ICT4D) between Africa and Europe.
Those participating will include policy and decision makers, heads of stakeholder institutions and international organisations, and academics from both Africa and Europe. Topics to be covered range from e-learning infrastructures, to what are described as “living labs”.
There will also be an emphasis on how ICTs can help Europe and Africa collaborate more closely in research. In particular, on the first day of the forum, (28 November), the AfricaConnect project, which has featured in regularly our news columns (see for example, here), will be formally launched in Europe.
I will be attending the forum and posting regular blogs describing some of the main presentations and workshop discussions. And hopefully I will be able to pick up some broader information about future funding for research in developing countries in the EU budget. It promises to be a fascinating meeting.