Effective ICT policy education will overcome challenges in public project rollouts.
In October 2008, Microsoft and the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI) signed a memorandum of understanding to develop and deliver a programme aimed at providing ICT policy training to government officials.
Delivering on this agreement, Microsoft and ESAMI are today launching the first session of the ‘Schools of Government’ initiative in Arusha, Tanzania. The first session will run for five days starting on Monday, 19th January.
Twenty-four trainers will undergo an ICT policy training programme that is based on a curriculum that was piloted in conjunction with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), USC School of Public Policy in California and the Dubai School of Government in the United Arab Emirates.
“Microsoft Corporation has, for the past two years, worked to develop a programme that can be used worldwide to train government officials in IT-related policy and planning issues. We are pleased to announce that this programme has been officially launched in East Africa,” said Dr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, Microsoft’s chairman for Africa.
“Microsoft pioneered this program in Africa from 2007 with the intention to build the capability of African educational institutions by providing them with the tools to equip current and future government leaders, officials and policy makers with a modern education on technology policy trends and policies that enable the success of ICT projects and programs,” he says.
Technology is a key element that can help accelerate Africa’s growth and industrialisation – whether it is technology being used by government agencies to assist with the delivery of better civil services, or technology being used to transform education to benefit the people themselves.
However, World Bank data suggests that 50% of ICT projects in Africa fail and that this is typically due to a combination of poor initial design along with insufficient execution and maintenance capabilities.
“Good policy lays the foundation to overcome such problems – and considers critical factors that underline all infrastructure needs, in order to not only create successful and sustainable individual projects, but also projects which complement each other as part of a broader governmental system,” adds Dr. Diarra.
“The program curriculum is developed in English and the possibility of developing content in Portuguese for subsequent training in Lusophone countries, such as Mozambique and Angola, is being considered,” adds Professor Bonard Mwape, director general for ESAMI.
“The goal of this program is to put the building blocks in place for a sustainable, multi-year government training program on ICT policy for the whole of Africa.”
“This cannot be achieved by providing a limited number of workshops to government officials,” he adds. “Only by creating a structure and capacity within existing training institutions to conduct ongoing programs will this initiative bear the expected positive outcomes.”
The ESAMI programme follows on from a similar, highly-successful memorandum of understanding that was concluded between Microsoft and the Centre Africain d’Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG) earlier in 2008.
CESAG is an institution specialising in the delivery of government-related training and leadership capacity building across French-speaking Africa.
Along with a number of other citizenship programmes that are operated across Africa, Microsoft believes that this initiative addresses a huge challenge with regard to the reasons that ICT projects very rarely work in Africa.
“The steps to economic prosperity in Africa could almost be considered pieces of a grand puzzle, and effective ICT policy implementation training is one piece of this entire puzzle,” Dr. Diarra says.
“It cannot work on its own. Instead, it requires a number of other pieces in order to complete Microsoft’s vision of how it would like to help the people of Africa meet the economic and social demands of the 21st century.
“Other pieces of the puzzle will fall into place over time as initiatives like the Microsoft Leadership Lecture Series and the ICT Best Practices Forum gain momentum and begin attracting more interest from other African countries.”