Interview: Bruno Nabagné Koné
How do cloud computing and the rise in local data storage capacity potentially benefit Côte d’Ivoire?
BRUNO NABAGNÉ KONÉ: Given the increasing value of core information related transactions and behaviours, as well as the related meta-data, the importance of data collection, storage, analysis and mining cannot be overstated. As a result, the conservation of data within national borders has become a matter of sovereignty and security for governments. In Côte d’Ivoire, this policy was epitomised by the Law regarding the Protection of Personal Data, which includes provisions related to the processing and movement of personal data and ensures that this information remains primarily in-country and is stored abroad only under specific conditions.
Other than matters of sovereignty, I believe that we are moving towards a sharing economy, where owning, as well as creating, our own servers, facilities, applications, and so on will become critical for the country. In this regard, the advent of cloud computing is already a global phenomenon, and in keeping with that trend we are seeking to develop a national cloud offering with extensive local data storage capacity. This will surely open new opportunities for large companies and individuals but it is primarily small and medium-sized enterprises who will benefit the most from gaining access to products that were previously financially out of reach for them. Private operators are increasingly aware of the value of data and have thus started investing in new data centres.
What has the country done to keep up with international standards?
KONE: In 2016 Côte d’Ivoire climbed nine places in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index – one of the fastest ascents globally. Since 2011 our strategy has been based on five pillars: an enabling regulatory environment, the development of broadband connectivity, capacity building, job creation and local content creation. In the early years, we focused primarily on the first three, since having the means and skills to access content are paramount to creating it. Now however, we are increasingly focused on the later. I believe that our evolution is rational and will allow our ecosystem to flourish in the coming years. The construction of the national backbone, the exemption of Customs tax on electronics, the creation of the Digital Youth and Innovation Fund and the introduction of IT at the primary-school level are a testament to our ambition to enable greater access to new technologies, and provide individuals as well as entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to profit from these new opportunities.
Where does the e-government project stand?
KONE: The government has been moving forward with its own digitalisation project, which seeks to propel people and businesses into a digital economy, by leading by example. We have already launched a number of projects that have had an impact on several sectors, such as agriculture, health, education and financial services. Of the 400 e-services initiatives identified, we estimate that about 178 will be completed by the end of 2018. As of September 2017 every ministry has its own website, displaying valuable information to our constituency, and over 40 transactional services have already come online, enabling communities and businesses to interact with government bodies.
In addition, the creation of a government-to-citizen or government-to-consumer website enables users to gain access to information on more than 300 government procedures. The deployment of our e-education and e-health programmes has connected several health care and education entities through fibre-optic cables, and provided these institutions with technological equipment to train and respond to our citizens’ needs.
Despite noticeable advances in these fields, we must note that the financing of recurrent expenditures – such as those related to internet connectivity, software licences, and other related areas – remain a challenge.
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