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Kagame: Digital Technologies Are A Catalytic Force For Africa’s’ Progress

8 Min Read

President Paul Kagame has emphasized that digital technology is an untapped sector that needs to be exploited to contribute to the development of the continent.

Addressing more than 2000 participants comprised of mobile tech experts, private sectors, and industrial researchers, Kagame clarified that digital technologies are not tapped enough to match the demand of the coverage that is required by Africans.

“Digital technologies are a catalytic force for development in Africa, yet almost half of adults in low and middle-income countries do not have access to the internet even when leaving in areas with broadband coverage,” Kagame said while addressing the participants during the MWC Africa 2022 summit in Kigali.

“Digital infrastructure is key, but it’s not enough. To leverage the potential of connectivity investments in digital skills and literacy must be integrated into our national policies.”

Kagame called on sector players to create a favorable environment for young Africans who are enthusiastic in the technology sector urging them to play their part in promoting digital transformation.

“Africa is home to creative and tech-savvy youth looking for the right platform to contribute solutions. We cannot afford to reduce them only to a statistic, only, or seat idly by, as they seek opportunity outside of Africa.” Kagame said.

“Significant strides have been made on the continent to accelerate the digital transformation, through initiatives spearheaded by the African Union and Smart Africa among others.

However, to leave no one behind means a number of things as well and we must recognize that digital transformation is not a zero-sum game, where progress must come at the expense of the most vulnerable. Not at all.”

Also, according to Kagame, promoting mobile and digital technologies is one way ticket towards implementation of the AfCTA.

“Everyone, regardless of status, or gender, must benefit if we want to create lasting change. Universal and meaningful and meaningful connectivity can be a springboard, for the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” Kagame said.

“This is less about leapfrog legacy systems, and more about digitizing faster and taking full ownership in building the Africa we want, because we can, all of us together,” he added. “Everywhere in the world, emerging technologies are shaping our economic future as well as the conditions for peace and security.  To speed up the prosperity, technology has to go hand in hand with good governance.”

Speaking at the event, Minister for ICT and Innovation Paula Ingabire reiterated that more digital economies will remain untapped if the stakeholders sit idly without acting.

“Imagine Africa where a half of our people are left behind as the world moves strongly into the digital future, building digital economies that benefit them.  Imagine Africa becoming less competitive as we fell to work together for the challenges facing us on the path to prosperity in our collective digital future.” Minister Ingabire noted emphasizing that “This is not the Africa we can be in tomorrow.”

“We need to work together to work hand in hand within our national boundaries, our regional boundaries, cooperation initiatives and within a global corporation Framework as well.” Minister Ingabire added.

Matt Grannyard, the Director General, GSMA, US said it is a big responsibility for  everyone to promote digital technologies recognizing that the sector has been a “wonderful privilege” over the past two decades on the continent.

He argued that mobile growth across Sub-Saharan Africa has absolutely been phenomenal by the end of the last year.

With illustration, he said, there were more than 500 million mobile subscribers on the continent.

The mobile industry contributes to 5 % of the global GDP cashing in revenues worth US$4.5 trillion USD globally.

President Paul Kagame full speech bellow;

It is a real pleasure to be joining you, for the first in-person Mobile World Congress Africa.
I welcome you all to Rwanda. We are very pleased to host you. I wish to thank GSMA, for choosing our country as the venue for this year’s conference.
Digital technologies are a catalytic force for development in Africa.
Yet, almost half of the adults in low-and middle-income countries do not have access to the internet, even when living in areas with broadband coverage.
Digital infrastructure is key, but it is not enough.
To leverage the potential of connectivity, investments in digital skills and literacy must be integrated in our national policies.
In Rwanda, with the support of the private sector, Kigali Innovation City aims to develop a competitive and productive workforce, and a conducive environment for start-ups.
Africa is home to creative and tech savvy youth, looking for the right platform to contribute solutions. We cannot afford to reduce them to a statistic, only, or sit idly by, as they seek opportunities outside Africa.
Our young people have a lot to offer. We must do our part, and keep our promise to them.
Significant strides have been made on the continent to accelerate the digital transformation, through initiatives spearheaded by the African Union and Smart Africa, among others.
However, to leave no one behind, we must create a more enabling legal and regulatory environment.
However, to leave no one behind means a number of things as well, and we must recognize that digital transformation is not a zero sum game, where progress must come at the expense of the most vulnerable. Not at all.
Everyone, regardless of the status, gender or nationality, must benefit, if we want to create lasting change.
Universal and meaningful connectivity for all can be a springboard, for the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
This is less about leapfrogging legacy systems, and more about digitizing faster and taking full ownership in building the Africa we want, because we can, all of us together.
Everywhere in the world, emerging technologies are shaping our economic future, as well as conditions for peace and security.
To speed up prosperity, technology has to go hand in hand with good governance.
I trust that you will take this message with you, throughout the conference. Once again, welcome to Rwanda. I wish you a very productive meeting, and a pleasant stay in our country.
I thank you for your kind attention.

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