Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has said that the aspiration to turn the African continent into a knowledge-based economy and society is only possible through ICT. The Premier made the remarks while officially opening the second edition of Transform Africa Summit which kicked off today in Kigali.
The Transform Africa Summit 2015 marks an important step in the journey towards digitizing the African continent. A journey which started with the 2007 ‘Connect Africa’ Conference that was aimed to champion broadband connectivity and devise ways on how Africa can leverage access to broadband to transform communities, governments and the private sector.
Following ‘Connect Africa’, in 2013, seven Heads of State met in Rwanda to discuss where Africa was and adopted a “Smart Africa Manifesto” to leverage achievements in ICT towards delivering development across the continent.
ICTs, Premier Murekezi pointed out, provide a good and inclusive medium of development in which the young generation will participate and drive socio-economic change through innovation and entrepreneurship.
Prime Minister Murekezi reiterated that since 2013, broadband connectivity has greatly increased and global ICT trends are now increasingly driven by innovation that is largely spearheaded by internet and mobile technology:
“In Rwanda, by connecting to fibre optic all our 30 districts, local offices, major hospitals, schools, banks, all borders-post points, we noticed increased effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery, a tremendous reduction in cost of doing business, an increase in competitiveness, and enhanced financial inclusion.”
Thanks to broadband connectivity, in Rwanda, the number of Mobile payments is ever increasing. The trend is expected to rise with on-going initiatives like the deployment of a nationwide 4G LTE network that was launched during Transform Africa 2013, and Irembo, an online platform that is now delivering government services online.
The Premier highlighted that digital revolution necessitates home grown initiatives, innovative and win-win partnerships that Transform Africa Summit 2013 sought to institutionalise with the Smart Africa Initiative.
“The aspiration to turn Africa into a knowledge-based economy and society is only possible through ICT. We must therefore establish a strong regulatory environment, put in place the requisite infrastructure, and increase partnership with private sector to enable full utilisation of the infrastructure investments in place.”
Themed “Accelerating Digital Innovation,” Transform Africa Summit 2015 builds on the successes of the 2013 edition that has already made great strides including the endorsement of the Smart Africa initiative by the African Union Summit and the International Telecommunications Union Plenipotentiary Conference in 2014.
The three-day Summit brings together over 2,500 delegates including Heads of State, policy makers, CEOs from leading technology companies, Members of the UN broadband commission on Digital innovation and top academics on the different topics discussed.