For Africa to realize a digital economy, leaders on the continent should critically think about the rationale of this concept – President Paul Kagame warned while presenting at the Transform Africa summit in Kigali.
The president was responding to a question posed by the moderator asking – how would entrepreneurs become part of changing Africa? And this was pegged on the growing efforts to a continental digital transformation.
President Kagame told the gathering that prior to the noon session, he had an amicable conversation with Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta about Air transport and they realized there was something wrong.
“We agree there needs to be a single market for air transport on the continent,”Kagame said, adding just as there is a project of the African Union to create a single market for air transport in Africa.
Once this Single market for air transport is completely in force, it will allow significant freedom of air transport in Africa, advancing the AU’s Agenda 2063.
It is in this realm that Kagame proposes similar perspective be considered in the move to propel an African digital Market.
“I and Mali president have been talking about airlines that serve our capitals in Africa. For example why would someone from Kigali to Bamako have to first go through Poland?
“We need direct connection through our airspace. Why don’t we think like that on the digital economy? If I call Kenyatta on phone they first take me through Europe for my voice to be inspected. We need voice and data to be accessible directly,” President Kagame said.
Kagame suggested that “African leaders should be thinking of lessening the cost of things and services for our people.”
This digital agenda according to Kagame seeks to keep Africa together, “Collaboration is the only way for us to navigate successfully, through the complex global dynamics we have to face.”
Similarly, President Kagame noted that the continent can only protect its peoples’ interests, and increase the size of our market, through integration and cooperation.
However, there could be concerns by other global powers about Africa’s agenda to establish a digital economy.
“The emergence of a common African agenda on ICTs should not be a source of worry to anyone. It is long overdue, and in the end, greater African unity will benefit both Africa and its partners globally,” kagame said.
The Rwandan President said noted that there are always tendencies to want to divide the African continent, for various reasons, “We know better not to go along with this”.
For Africa to fully enjoy and utilize the existing ICTs, the leaders at the Transform Africa Summit agreed that Africans must generate their own content.
“Let’s not be empty vessels, using broadband internet merely to consume the content and ideas produced by others. Technology connects the world like never before. Access to knowledge has become much more equitable as a result,” Kagame challenged Africans.
The African Continental Free Trade Area has now entered into force. We must keep Africa’s industrialisation and technology agendas in close alignment.
The host of the 6th Transform Africa Summit in 2020 will be the Republic of Guinea. We thank the President,His Excellency Alpha Condé for his strong support for Smart Africa.