Kagame underscores importance of AI in achieving SDGs

By Jane Babirye
On 18 September 2023 at 11:39

President Paul Kagame emphasized the importance of harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Kagame made these remarks during the SDG Digital Day on September 17, 2023, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York while commending the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for hosting the AI for Good Global Summit earlier this year.

"To cross the finish line and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to leverage the power of this technology. We have to keep in mind that it must work for us, not against us," he said.

"We will need a collective and coordinated approach to AI governance frameworks, which protect everyone, everywhere," Kagame added.

The SDG Digital Day was part of the SDG weekend convened by the Secretary-General to "generate opportunities for stakeholders, UN entities, and member states to set out commitments and contributions to drive SDG transformation."

The SDG weekend was organized ahead of the SDG Summit, which coincided with the 2023 SDG Summit hosted by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the midpoint on the road to 2030.

According to Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the latest SDG report indicates that without ’accurate data,’ even well-intentioned programs and initiatives are working in the dark.

The SDGs were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 to provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

Kagame further highlighted Rwanda’s support for ITU’s call to the public and private sectors to increase their pledges for the ’Partner2Connect’ Digital coalition to one hundred billion dollars by 2026.

"In Rwanda, through the GIGA initiative, spearheaded by ITU and UNICEF [United Nations International Children’s Fund], we are seeing firsthand the value of partnership. The pilot project in 63 schools has made connectivity faster and cheaper," he remarked.

"Africa is blessed to have a young and vibrant population which is passionate about entrepreneurship and self-improvement; hence, the digital divide should not stifle their creativity and productivity," added Kagame.

’Partner 2Connect’ is a coalition led by ITU to raise funding through bold partnerships for meaningful connectivity and sustainable digital transformation by 2026. To date, 30 billion has been raised, with almost half of it allocated to enhancing digital connectivity in least-developed countries.

"How can we expect people to leverage technology for healthcare, innovation, education, or employment if they cannot afford a digital device or service, lack the required digital skills, do not find the content useful, or do not feel safe online?" wondered Doreen Bogdan-Martin, ITU Secretary-General.

President Paul Kagame has emphasized the importance of harnessing Artificial Intelligence to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.