In her article, Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Programmes Manager, NEPAD e-Africa Commission explores the ways that ICTs can transform agriculture in Africa.
She draws attention to the current status of ICTs in Africa and the promises they hold, such as the staggering growth of mobile phone use, the halting expansion of the fixed-line telephone network and the disappointing growth of internet access.
She argues that ICTs could facilitate the creation of networks locally, regionally and globally, leading to collaborative and knowledge-sharing approaches to problem solving and research diversification.
Yet, the most prevalent use of ICTs in agriculture is providing farmers with information and advisory services through SMS, voice, web portals and call centres.
Dr Nyirenda-Jere highlights the bi-directional sharing of information in the value chain between farmers and retailers, e-banking and the use of GIS to secure land titles. Challenges remain, however.
They entail improving the mechanisms and infrastructure for sharing and exchanging agricultural knowledge generated through research at the national and regional levels, and boosting human capital to rapidly absorb and use these new technologies.
Policy makers still need to appreciate fully the far-reaching benefits of ICTs and promote the right regulatory and market structures to realise their new opportunities, especially for Africa’s benefit.
The full article by Dr Towela Nyirenda-Jere can be read at Knowledge for Development