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ICT Research priorities

The ICT domain, perhaps more than any other domain of Science and Technology (S&T), is characterised by rapid technological advances and fast adoption of new services enabled by the increasingly fast number of available services and devices. This is particularly true for the African continent where the current installation of broadband undersea cables brings unprecedented 24/7 broadband access while the roll-out of mobile and wireless services extends access even to areas that have never had fixed-line communications.

Consequently, ICT research priorities will continuously evolve – discarding some ideas and bringing in fresh new ideas as both technology and society embraces development. This is also a domain dominated by large, multi-national ICT organisations that have their own Research & Development (R&D) programmes driven by commercial benefits. Therefore, the debate about research priorities needs to be instilled by continuous dialogue with experts and key stakeholders in the field, and wide access to data that indicate needs, current research activity, as well as trends and patterns in science, technology and society.

Finally, identified joint ICT research priorities can address short-, medium- and long-term needs. These can also be stated as urgent technology gaps, development opportunities with entrepreneurial potential and visionary technology development. Due to the long-term nature of research funding allocation, the emphasis in this new phase of the EuroAfrica-ICT Initiative has been on defining medium and long-term research projects with a 3-5 year time horizon.