Africa must lead the digital revolution

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that Africa is not left behind in the digital revolution that is sweeping across the globe. Our focus should not be about just being part of this revolution, we should be leading it.

Come this May, the 2019 Transform Africa Summit, the most important gathering of global ICT minds and leaders on the continent will convene in Kigali, Rwanda, to discuss how Africa can leverage digital innovations to drive economic growth and long term development.


This year’s Transform Africa Summit will take place from May 14 to 17, 2019 at the iconic Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) and it is expected to bring together over 4,000 delegates from over 90 countries across the world.


The Transform Africa summit is Smart Africa’s flagship event which was put in place as a vehicle to put ICT at the centre of Africa’s socio-economic agenda.


This year’s summit will be the 5th edition and will run under the theme “Boosting Africa’s Digital Economy”.

This particular summit is exciting for us because it comes at a time when the continent is holding candid conversations on how our countries can harness technology and digital innovations to boost their economies and usher an era of sustained development.

The timing is optimal because today, the world is embracing the fact that technological disruption has impacted on the way we do things. It comes at a time when the world is coming together to drive the digital economy agenda. This is very important because we do not want to be left behind in this digital revolution.

When we talk about the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), we need to discuss and agree on things that will make the single market possible, including eliminating roaming charges among countries to ensure seamless communication and that access to efficient and affordable broadband internet is guaranteed.

At the end of 2018, the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) Digital Economy Task Force met for the first time at the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, Austria, to discuss how the two continents can work together to tap into the digitisation of economies to bring about transformation not only for our countries but also our society in general.

The initiative is aimed at supporting the integration of digital markets in Africa, boosting public and private investment and improving the business environment on the continent through improving access to affordable broadband connectivity and digital infrastructure, nurturing digital skills and digital entrepreneurship as well as the need to move most services online.

Today we talk of Africa being the youngest continent in the world in this digital revolution but we are also taking note of the first that it is the leading continent in the world in mobile money transactions.

For example Ivory Coast alone has over $30m mobile money transactions daily and in Sub-Saharan Africa over $20 billion worth of transactions are conducted through mobile financial solutions annually.

This year’s Transform Africa Summit (TAS2019), which is expected to bring together Heads of State and Government, First Ladies, UN Broadband Commissioners, Ministers, Regulators, Mayors & Governors, Public & Private Sector, International Organisations, Industry Leaders, Investors, Entrepreneurs, Young Innovators, Civil Society and Academia, among others, will therefore be a platform for us to discuss how best we can tap into this digital revolution for the benefit of the our continent. This year’s TAS2019 is expected to be more exciting and invigorating than past editions.

Apart from the Smart Africa Leaders’ Summit, which will be graced by Heads of State and Government, we will have the Smart Africa Women’s Summit, which will focus on the role of women in driving the Smart Africa agenda.

The summit will have interactive plenary sessions featuring global leaders and tech minds as well as subject specific sessions tackling current ICT topics.

The second Transform Africa Economic Forum, a Government to Business engagement, is also a must attend for TAS delegates because it is expected to bring together Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries to engage with a targeted audience of business leaders and high net worth investors on investment opportunities and areas of collaboration on the continent.

The Economic Forum is among other things expected to tackle some of the key topics concerning startups on the continent including financing, integration, human capital and other issues that affect startups in Africa.

All these exciting sessions will be an opportunity for us to discuss the disruption brought about by technology in our midst and come up with strategies to leverage on ICT innovations to bring about digital transformation on our continent.

TAS 2019 is a must attend and a unique opportunity for all of us to engage and come up with impactful ideas and solutions that can help us transform our continent in a more sustainable manner. Beyond the summit topics, TAS also serves as an opportunity for one to visit Rwanda and see how the country has progressed over the last 25 years into a jewel of Africa’s development.

The writer is the Director General / CEO of Smart Africa.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.


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