As a result, the NEPAD ICT Broadband Infrastructure Programme is working toward linking all 54 African countries to one another and, in turn, to the rest of the world through broadband fibre-optic submarine cables. Currently, 17400 km have been covered representing 60% of the total fibre infrastructure required for Eastern and Southern Africa. According to Mr Traoré, in all ICT inclusions to empower communities, the role of the State Government is essential to creating an enabling environment and making change happen. However, he also stressed the need for attracting the private sector to invest in ICT4D and for the necessity to understand the development context of the communities before deploying any ICT based service.
The Key note presentation from Mr. R Chandrasekhar, the Secretary of Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India, was read out by IL&FS Vice President Arun Varma, in the absence of Mr Chandrasekhar. This presentation dealt with salient features of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), which the Indian Government has approved in May 2006. NeGP emphasises on making all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality through common service delivery outlets and ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man. According to Mr Chandrasekhar, as many as 54,615 out of 100,000 CSCs have been set up across the country so far. The rest will be rolled out over the next few months.
In his presentation, Dr. Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, CEO & MD of e-Governance Practice at IL&FS informed the gathering about great strides taken by the northeastern Indian province of Tripura in using ICT in offering primary and preventive eye care for its population. The provincial government has set up 40 Tripura Vision Centres, in far-flung areas of the province for screening people for several eye diseases. These centres are equipped essential instruments required for eye inspection, including a powerful camera which can capture the symptoms present. The images are subsequently sent to ophthalmologists for diagnosis. The treatments prescribed by the experts are passed on to the patients by the centre instantaneously. The centres not only helped the needy to get treatment at their doorstep, but also reduced the rush to the government hospital in the provincial capital city of Agartala, Dr. Tyagi said.
Dr. Damodar Bachani, Deputy Director General of National AIDS Control Organisation, New Delhi, told the delegates how the Indian apex body for the HIV/AIDS is on the verge of embracing ICT for treating HIV positive patients. “A lot of stigma attached to this chronic disease and as a result, confidentiality of the patients is of utmost importance,” Dr. Bachani said. NACO is planning to issue smart cards to the HIV positive patients who undergo anti retroviral therapy so that they can walk into any HIV clinic procure their quota of medicine without anyone knowing about their disease status. This will also help NACO to ensure that patients regularly stick to medication. Prakash Kumar, director of Cisco Systems, Inc., on the other hand, informed the gathering about various cost-effective technologies being developed by Cisco in collaboration with stake holders for telemedicine and virtual classroom applications. He also presented some clips which showed some of these technologies in action.
Ashis Sanyal, a Senior Director at DIT, in his presentation, cautioned the meet about the perils involved in upscaling the ICT efforts for public good. Larger developmental strategy and the objective of the telecentres should converge at some point in time. Then only they will succeed, he said. But he was hopeful that the well-run telecentres will be able to transform digital divide that is experienced in most developing societies into digital opportunities.
Ngae Denis, a delegate from Cameroon, made a presentation on behalf of West African members of the delegation. The presentation dealt with the subject of using ICT for affordable and accessible healthcare. He implored that African countries should modify their ICT plans so that tele-diagnosis and tele-medication can be delivered in their societies in an effective manner.
Paul Barera, a delegate from Rwanda, making a presentation on behalf of delegates from Central African nations, gave an overview of mobile based information services available to farmers in many African countries. He felt that formation of rural cooperatives for agriculture should be the way forward from most African countries. There is also a need for setting up knowledge centres can help these cooperatives by blending generic knowledge together with location-specific content.