Leaders have called for sustained efforts to improve the development and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in Africa.
VIDEO: Transform Africa 2015 Day #1 Highlights.
The call was made at the launch of the three-day, second edition of Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, yesterday, a gathering of more than 2,500 delegates who are discussing how to advance a more digital Africa.
Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi opened the summit, flanked by the secretary general of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Houlin Zhao, and the chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board, Francis Gatare.
“This summit is a golden opportunity to share the lessons learnt and renew our commitment towards accelerating and sustaining Africa’s on-going digital revolution,” said Murekezi.
At the centre of discussions was how to invest in home-grown solutions, innovative and win-win partnerships, as well as the right regulatory policies to attract about $300 billion of investments in Africa’s ICT projects.
Experts say investments in ICT in Africa were estimated at around $70 billion in 2013 when the first Transform Africa Summit was held in Kigali.
Delegates at the on-going summit, who represent more than 850 ICT companies and over 80 countries worldwide, will discuss critical issues affecting the growth of the ICT industry.
“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 the private sector to enable full utilisation of the infrastructure investments in place,” Murekezi said.
Zhao, on the other hand, lauded the role of ICTs in enabling development in Africa, explaining that the technology has helped in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the continent and that it remains at the centre of achieving the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Without ICT we cannot have the 17 SDGs easily achieved,” Zhao said.
The official lauded some of the initiatives in Africa to address digital gaps such as telecom companies scrapping roaming fees and operating a one-area network, as well as governments enacting laws to reduce taxes on telecommunication and IT equipment.
Zhao encouraged the delegates at the summit to continue working together to advance the digital revolution on the continent.
“We hope to continue working together to maximise the value of using technologies. I hope Africa will move faster and better. Together we have the power to transform Africa,” he said.
Among hundreds of companies represented at the on-going summit include global IT giants like Facebook, CISCO and Ericsson, as well as global telecom giants like Millicom International Cellular, the company that owns mobile telephone communication company Tigo.
The executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Africa Division of Millicom, Cynthia Gordon, encouraged the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities in the African digital market.
“I think the investment has to come from the operators,” she said during a discussion session about ‘Unlocking Africa’s Smart and Sustainable Economies’.
Fredrik Jejdling, the head of Ericsson’s sub-Saharan Africa region, said, “Africa is a promising continent for it has the biggest digital growth rate.”
The summit is co-organised by the Government of Rwanda and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), with the support of the World Bank.