Bull has been chosen by the government in the Republic of Congo to implement its new e-government platform. We talked to Thierry Moungalla, the country’s Minister for Post, Telecommunications and New Communications Technologies.
“What are the main challenges you face today in the Congo when it comes to telecommunications and new technologies?
Thierry Moungalla: Our government has made new technologies one of the mainstays of social development for the Congo. In order to make digital technology a real tool to support our modernization and development, we face three main challenges. The first is all about rebuilding the telecommunications infrastructures that have been badly affected by recent events. In particular, this will involve widespread roll-out of fiber-optic cables, which will give the whole population universal access to telecoms networks. The second challenge concerns regulation and rule-setting for the telecoms sector, which we have to bring up to date not only to encourage new private investors into the sector, but also to facilitate the convergence between policies and projects with our neighbours in the region and sub-region. And finally, the last aspect, which is absolutely essential, involves developing the way that new technologies are used in Congo’s public and economic life.
What ways of using digital technologies do you want to promote?
TM: We have two main areas for development in mind: e-commerce and e-government. We are certain that e-commerce can make a decisive contribution to transforming the Congo into an emerging economy in ten to 15 years time, which is why we want to encourage it to grow at the heart of our economy. When it comes to e-government, this is really one of the main priorities for the current administration. Thanks to new technologies, we have the opportunity to improve the country’s governance by giving citizens access to essential information about how the State is managed, administrative processes and value-added services like on-line education and tele-medicine. Digital technologies are a fantastic tool for good governance, development and, in our country, where travel is sometimes difficult, for opening up communications.
In particular, this e-government strategy will involve implementing a national portal, for which Bull will be your technology partner. Can you tell us why you chose Bull for this role?
TM: We wanted a partner that is capable of supporting us in all aspects of this ambitious project. During the selection process, Bull won us over most notably because of its long-standing experience in Africa – where it has been involved in many large-scale public and private sector projects – and its expertise in e-government. In particular, Bull is the prime contractor for the mon-service-public.fr portal which, coincidentally, I use myself when I am visiting France.
Bull’s skills in IT security also carry weight in your decision-making process. Is this an important issue for you?
TM: It’s vitally important! The success of our whole digital strategy definitely rests on how well the population adopts these tools. And let’s not forget that the Congo has recently been through some difficult times and the State is still fragile. Reinforcing our citizens’ confidence in the government more generally – thanks to the secure, high-performance tools that we provide for them – should ensure widespread take-up of information and communications technologies. So we have to build extremely secure systems, especially since security issues are still acutely important at a sub-regional level. For the head of State and the government, the fight against cyber-crime is a fundamental problem, because the development of digital technologies in the Congo and for the Congo can only happen in an environment where security is guaranteed.