Amani Abou Zeid, the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitization, stressed the importance of accelerating the implementation of high-speed digital connectivity projects throughout Africa, as well as working to bridge the digital gap for girls and women on the continent.
This is to bring about a developmental transfer and benefit from the services and the enormous potential and job opportunities offered by digital technology..
This was stated at the Transformation of Africa Summit, which was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The summit was attended by four African heads of state, namely Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, the head of the Smart Africa Alliance, Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, Zambia’s President Hakinde Hichilema, and King Mswati III of Eswatini.
The heads of state called for the adoption of technology to stimulate Africa’s economic growth, stressing that technology is a development priority and must be adopted if the continent wants to transform, modernize and industrialize in a rapidly changing global environment.
“African governments and stakeholders must bring Africa into a knowledge-based economy based on the benefits of Technology,” President Mnangagwa said during the official opening ceremony.
Speaking about the role of digitization of African economies in transforming Africa, President Paul Kagame said, “to intensify the digital transformation of the continent, everyone must be connected to affordable broadband and also be able to own a smart device.
“We need to make the digital identities of individuals and companies portable across borders while using technology to reduce trade barriers,” he added.
President Kagame continued, “artificial intelligence has made headlines in recent weeks for at most the right reasons, and we must move quickly to adopt artificial intelligence and make it work.
King Mswati III of Eswatini stressed that Africa should not be left behind and should take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital age.
“We are now living in an exciting time when the world is transforming at an unprecedented pace, the rate of technological development is fast and we should not lag behind in Africa. .
“”As we move forward, we must embrace digital transformation if we hope to have a better future for ourselves and for future generations on our African continent, Africa must unite in order to promote the Africa we want as adopted in Agenda 2063.” King Mswati III added.
The leaders stressed the need to intensify investments in digital transformation, innovation and youth and women empowerment for Africa to achieve its long-and short-term development goals.
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera said: “In order to catch up with the first global path of digital absorption, Africa must deploy multiple strategic investments to integrate all key sectors of the economy on a single digital platform.
“Our citizens should have affordable access to digital products and services, digital literacy and improved digital infrastructure,” he added.
Zambian President Hichilema also emphasized digitization as a tool to accelerate African integration by promoting trade and the free movement of people, goods and services.
He said: “We also need to use digitization in the movement of our goods across our borders, we should have non-border posts, unlike one-stop border posts, there is no point in stopping trucks heading to Zimbabwe or Malawi at border posts and this can be achieved through technology.