Better IT connectivity can unleash Africas economic potential UN officials say

African countries have registered the world’s highest mobile phone growth, ranging from 50 to 400 per cent in the last three years, Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told a press briefing.Africa’s goal should be to replicate that success in broadband capability, also achieving “Internet access in every village, every school, every university, every hospital.”Lack of Internet access is holding back growth, according to ITU figures. Less than 4 per cent of Africans have Internet access, broadband penetration is below 1 per cent and 70 per cent of all continental traffic goes outside Africa, driving up costs for consumers. The cost of Internet connectivity in Africa, says the World Bank, is the highest in the world – some $250-300 per month.Africa needs a competitive information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, Mr. Touré said. “By bringing optical fibres in some of the networks, by just closing the loops, you will avoid excessive Internet transit costs, bringing down the cost by two thirds,” he said.China and India have increased both public and private investment in ICT in Africa, and other countries could do the same, he said. “Once the infrastructure is there, once you have the proper capacity building, you can have real growth, with exponential figures,” he said.Mobile telephone use in Africa will undoubtedly follow the general trends of other developing regions, said Craig Barrett, Chairman of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development and Chairman of the Board of Intel Corporation. In China, India and Latin America, the private sector had gone in, and with spectrum allocation and competitive markets, had been able to bring affordable communications to all of the people. “We expect to see that in Africa,” he said.Mr. Barrett said connectivity poses a challenge. The average monthly cost for a 256 kilobits per second connection was more than the total hardware and software costs. Broadband connectivity costs should ideally fall by more than two-thirds by 2009, he said, adding that the gate to Africa’s development would be “providing inexpensive connectivity over broad stretches of territory.”The success of Africa’s telecom industry, said Mohsen Khalil, Director of Global ICT at the World Bank Group, had shown investors that in Africa they could “contribute to development and still make money.” About $25 billion in foreign direct investment had been invested in African telecoms in the last 10 years, he said.Two factors, he said, have contributed to the success of the telecom industry: technological innovation in the mobile area and the adoption of liberal policies. What was now needed for broadband expansion were regulations ensuring an even playing field, and public-private partnerships.“When you give access to a human being, you unleash the power of human innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said. “It is really so powerful – all they need is access.”A “Connect Africa” summit in October in Kigali, Rwanda, will focus on making ICT capabilities available for economic development and connectivity. “We will try to bring together the public and private sectors to achieve this,” Mr. Barrett said.Walter Fust, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, voiced support for the Kigali summit to keep ICT for development high on the political agenda, to broaden the discussion to innovative financing mechanisms and local content, and to support “the mobilizing of the doers, not only of the talkers.” 19 September 2007Better information technology links can help Africa to unleash its economic potential, United Nations and business leaders said today in New York. read more

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Consumers back industry call for a scrappage incentive scheme

FranceOver ten years old€1,000-2,000 to purchase a new car which is less than 160 g/km or an LCV.220,000 ItalyMore than ten years old €1,500 to purchase a car which is at least Euro 4 engine specification and emits less than 140g/km for petrol and 130 g/km for diesel.200,000 The proposed scheme could see drivers of cars over nine years old offered a £2,000 incentive towards a new or nearly new car in return for scrapping their existing one1. A similar scheme already operating in Germany has successfully boosted the new car market, increasing registrations by 21.5% in February – the first year-on-year monthly rise since July 2008. To view a video report please follow this link CountryCriteriaIncentiveBoost to market Results from an independent consumer survey commissioned by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 76% of consumers are in favour of the UK government introducing a scrappage incentive scheme similar to those currently running across Europe. The survey, undertaken by MM-Eye, a market research company specialising in automotive research, showed that 61% of people said they were likely to take up the offer and 66% of people agreed with the idea of taking older cars off the road and replacing them with newer ones because of the positive environmental impact. RomaniaOver ten years old€1,000 to purchase a car.60,000 AustriaOver 13 years old  €1,500 to purchase a new car with Euro 4 as minimum engine specification. e 30,000 GermanyOver nine years old €2,500 to purchase a car up to 12 months old with Euro 4 as minimum engine specification.  400,000 GreeceNo age limit €400-800 to scrap vehicle plus €1,500-3,400 if purchase a new vehicle.e 20,000 Commenting on the survey, SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said; “The scrappage incentive scheme is a popular way for government to support the automotive industry and provides good value for money for the tax payer. The increased VAT revenue to government largely offsets the cost of the scheme, yet the positive impact it could have on building consumer confidence and boosting the new vehicle market are extremely valuable to the UK automotive sector and the 800,000 people that work within it”. Scrappage incentive schemes currently operating across Europe: An average new car emits 14.6% less CO2 than a nine year old model so the scrappage scheme would continue the trend in reducing car emissions. The survey backed this further, showing that people likely to take up the offer would be buying cars at the smaller end of the market, with the lowest CO2 emissions. 88% of those likely to take up the offer said they’d spend up to £10,000 on a new car in addition to the £2,000 incentive. According to JATO Dynamics, the world’s leading provider of automotive data and intelligence, nearly a third of cars newly registered in 2008 fell into this category2 and is the typical cost of a supermini model, which in 2008 emitted 137.7g/km, 12.8% below the national average and over 25% below the 1999 market average. PortugalMore than ten years old€1,000-1,250 for a car which emits less than 140 g/km.e 20,000 SpainOver ten years old or 250,000 km Up to €10,000 0% loan to purchase a new car or LCV. The car must cost less than €30,000 and emit less than 140 g/km. The LCV must emit less than 160 g/km.e 100,000Why is the automotive sector important to the UK economy?·         27 car and CV manufacturers operating in the UK·         1.75 million cars and commercial vehicles produced each year·         £51 billion turnover·         £9.5 billion value added·         Over 800,000 UK jobsClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) read more

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