TAS2019 Economic Forum: Premier Ngirente makes case for Africa’s youth

Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente has said that Africa’s young population presents an opportunity to optimise technologies, which is reflected in the many incredible startups they run across the continent.

The Premier said this while officially opening the Economic Forum of the Transform Africa Summit, a three-day pan-African technology forum taking place in Kigali.

The forum, which is in its fifth edition, has attracted over 4,000 participants, according to the organisers.

Africa has the fastest growing youth population with more 140 million young people now than a decade ago.

By 2028, the African continent will be hosting almost one billion people under the age of 25.

“This young population presents an opportunity to optimize adoption of technologies as the younger generation is eager to embrace the digital era. This is where we see the value for start-ups which play, globally, a significant role in economic development,” he said.

“Across the world, start-ups are currently being championed by the youth who are actively creating jobs and transforming their communities. They bring new ideas to the table, much needed to stimulate innovation and generate competition,” he added.

Ngirente reiterated the role that technology is in the continent’s affairs, highlighting that it offers an opportunity to realize the integration of the continent faster and smarter and that it breaks the usual borders that have traditionally defined African countries.

Because of this importance, he noted, the Government of Rwanda, through the National Strategy for Transformation, 2017-2024, aims at ensuring digital literacy for all youth (16 to 30 years) by 2024.

He indicated that this will be possible by implementing a national digital literacy programme – the programme has the objective of achieving digital literacy of at least 60 per cent among adults by 2024.

“For this reason, discussions which will take place today are timely and crucial. But beyond conversations, the collaboration and partnerships carry the potential to change the course of history of our continent,” he noted.

The Prime Minister urged participants at the forum to use their expertise and advise the continent on how to better accelerate sustainable socioeconomic development and increase entrepreneurship to drive growth, reduce poverty and create wealth.

He also reminded the participants attending this year’s edition that the forum originates from the desire for African governments and the private sector to create a single continent-wide digital market.

This is a market he said will enable Africa to fully reap the benefits of the digital transformation, attract large scale investments and create jobs.

The opening session was preceded by Council of ministers of information and communication technologies. Not a lot of what transpired is out yet, but this has always been the norm with previous editions.