Davos, 19 January 2017: President Paul Kagame has highlighted the vital role of the private sector in national digital strategy development, pointing out that although governments may play the pivotal role in integrating digital technology into policy and making sure the implications are understood by the people and distributed equitably, the private sector is inevitably needed as a partner in terms of innovation and investment.
Appearing on a panel today during an interactive session moderated by Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development to debate on “Shaping a National Digital Strategy” at the ongoing World Economic Forum in Davos, President Kagame said that Africa has started from a low base but aims to move as fast as possible, with the understanding that the benefits outweigh the risks. The panel aimed at discussing how national digital strategies unlock leapfrogging opportunities for countries.
“We focus on solutions and get rid of problems. Public-private partnership is vital in digital development with the understanding that connecting the unconnected is huge potential. If connected this large number will contribute to returns. As partners we have the opportunity to talk about good returns without having to be expensive, thereby inhibiting accessibility.”
President Kagame said that by integrating ICT in the national strategy and planning, Rwanda had registered a big leap between 2003 and 2016, where connectivity grew by 30%. He said that there was a notable shift to investment that can touch people’s lives long term and will enable people to provide for themselves.
On the correlation between national education systems and digital development, President Kagame national digital strategies must ensure that the education systems are streamlined to ensure that the skills produced are in line with the needs for digital development.
The panel also included Herman Gref, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Sberbank, Russia, Doris Leuthard, President of the Swiss Confederation elect 2017 and Federal Councillor of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of Switzerland and Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT Group, United Kingdom.
Digitization and innovation in Africa is increasingly local and impact is evident across sectors such as banking, health, agriculture, transport and trade.