MTN SA’s General Manager, Krishna Chetty says Radio Planning and Optimisation, infrastructure development coupled with partnerships between public and private sectors and a consultative relationship between Regulatory bodies, is key towards the realisation of a thriving African continent powered by a knowledge and skills base.
Highway Africa is the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the continent. It focuses on new media issues relevant for journalists, encompassing policy, economics, development and technology, questions around ICT . This year’s theme was dubbed ‘Africa Rising.’
Chetty noted that five trends have emerged that will help drive growth towards the knowledge economy. “The rapid population growth will see the continent having almost two billion people by 2050. This will result in a younger population that is bolstering the middle class and is already contributes significantly to consumer growth,” said Chetty.
“Secondly, the move towards urbanisation will impact growth across the continent. It is estimated that the number of Africans who live in urban areas number will grow from 40% to 60% by 2050.”
Chetty added that the third trend is how Africa has been able to leapfrog technology. The continent has the fastest-growing telecommunications sector in the world, thanks mainly to the adoption of mobile technology. Another trend is that in addition to the continent’s considerable precious and base metals wealth, it is also becoming an important player in the world’s energy markets.
Chetty emphasised that a knowledge-based economy has several benefits for the continent. By embracing the knowledge economy, foreign direct investment will increase in technology, research and development as well as infrastructure. The socio-economic advantages will result in improvements in the GDPs and income per capita of countries in Africa. The increased skills levels and employment capacity will improve the quality of life.
“However, the foundation to enabling a knowledge economy is a quality broadband infrastructure,” noted Chetty. “According to the World Bank, every 10% incremental broadband penetration will result in a 1.38% point GDP growth rate.”
Chetty encouraged the state to embrace policies that allow efficient use of spectrum and support spectrum trading or pooling. “The digital dividend spectrum should be prioritised by Government as delays in the rollout of broadband could result in a significant number of jobs not being created in certain quarters of the economy. Also, investing in skills and education is essential. Operators, similar to MTN, need to participate and leverage existing infrastructure. There are many examples in Europe of how spectrum allocation has worked which Africa can learn from. Government should look at encouraging state-owned enterprises to tender with the private sector for ICT expansion initiatives,” he concluded.