Kagame Call for Action in Building a ‘Smart’ Africa’

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Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame says making Africa a smart continent requires everyone to embrace new technologies.

“To succeed in making African homes, offices, schools and cities smart, we have to harness opportunities in exponential technologies,” the President said.

The Head of State made the plea this morning while addressing Smart Africa Board meeting on sidelines of the 28th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he said that Africa is moving at a steady pace in embracing ICT.

Highlighting on the technologies needed to turn Africa into a smart continent, Kagame who also chairs Smart Africa Initiative, told the meeting that: “These technologies include; Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Drones, Big Data, Block chain, and 3D printing.”

Kagame observed that it’s crucial for African countries to embrace new technologies for the betterment of African citizens since it provides an opportunities to create employments and a wider single market to do business.

In October 2013 during the Transform Africa Summit held in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, 7 African Heads of States witnessed adoption of the Smart Africa Manifesto document in which they committed to provide leadership in accelerating socio-economic development through ICT’s.

In January 2014, The SMART Africa Manifesto was endorsed by all Heads of State and Government of the African Union at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa.

Today, more African leaders have exhibited interest in accelerating a Smart Africa by joining the initiative.

For President Kagame, “Our Alliance started with 7 member countries, and now has 17 countries on board representing a market of about 360 million people. This growing commitment to leverage ICT for transformation and growth has to be matched for wins to our citizens.”

The Rwandan president challenged participants at the meeting that the world is already embracing the 4th Industrial Revolution, adding that “Our challenge is to catch up in providing universal broadband.”

Rwanda has already invested heavily in broadband technology. The country has rolled out 3,000Km of fibre optic cable across the country – connecting 317 institutions in all 30 districts.

So far mobile penetration is estimated to be over 71.6%, with plans to lift internet usage to 95% this year.

According to Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Executive Director of Smart Africa, this year’s summit features the unveiling of key action documents including the ‘Africa Smart City Blueprint’ outlining the plan achieving the Smart Africa goal, the ‘Africa Smart Women and Girl initiative’ which will be presented by the First ladies of Africa highlighting the crucial role Women and Girls play in African’s digital transformation agenda, among others.

Transform Africa Summit 2017 will also be a highly interactive conference and exhibition that will showcase homegrown, cutting-edge technologies, real-world solutions and proven strategies government leaders need to build more livable, workable, sustainable cities.

Among other milestone achievements already in place include the ‘Smart Africa Scholarship Fund’ aimed at building the much-needed ICT capacity on the continent, with an idea to mobilize the necessary financial resources to selected students pursuing globally-benchmarked, industry-rated skills Masters or Industry Certifications at Centers of Excellence within Africa.

The initiative will aim to increase the number of advanced Masters-level and specialized (Certification) level ICT Engineers.

The approach will be to mobilize resources for the Transform Africa Scholarship Fund and provide scholarships to African students to help them pursue Master’s and Certification- level training at the continent’s best ICT centers of excellence.

Dan Ngabonziza

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