TIGA 2007

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African government innovation in information technology rewarded

Addis Ababa, 2 May (ECA) - Twelve innovative projects taking Africa forward in the field of information technology were rewarded for their enterprise at a glittering ceremony in Addis Ababa on Tuesday night.

The first ever Technology in Government in Africa (TIGA) awards were handed out by the main sponsors of the event, the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the Canadian government, in recognition of achievements that have led to changes at national, regional or provincial level.

The awards fell into four categories: public service delivery to citizens or communities; improved health services through the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT); improved educational services through the use of ICT; and Public Private Partnership in economic and financial e-services delivery.

Additionally, the judges – leading African experts in information technology – presented special awards for endeavours that did not fall into the categories but were nevertheless considered worthy of recognition.

Award-winning projects included the ‘Projecto Portal do Governo' in Angola, aimed at bringing together all government public information and services under one platform to make them available to citizens via the internet. Rwanda was rewarded for its ‘TRACnet' online project – a one-stop shop related to the care and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Other recipients included Kenya for devising a system to automate secondary school placement and exam results, and Burkina Faso which developed a distance-learning programme in local languages. Ethiopia was recognized for an online courts administration reform to make legal redress more accessible to citizens, while Ghana's winning ‘Instant Money Transfer Service' was aimed at enhancing remittances from abroad via the telephone.

Speaking at the ceremony, Canada's ambassador to Ethiopia Yves Boulanger said his country supported ICT as a “powerful enabler” of socio-economic development aimed at alleviating poverty in Africa. His comments were echoed by ECA's Executive Secretary Abdoulie Janneh, who noted that ICT “is essential for moving the continent forward”.

The TIGA initiative received strong backing from the Finnish and Italian governments, Ethiopian Airlines, Microsoft and the Nokia-Siemens Networks which all stressed that the continent's future lay in the development of information technology and education.

The event took place on the sidelines of the Committee on Development Information (CODI) meeting currently underway in Addis Ababa.