Needed efforts to accelerate single digital market across Africa through the eyes of Lacina Koné

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 1 June 2023 at 02:33

The Director General of Smart Africa, Lacina Koné, has emphasized the need for collaboration with the private sector and a shift in mindsets to enable the African continent to realize its ambitious goals of establishing a single digital market.

Koné was participating in a panel discussion centered around the theme ’Uniting Towards One African Market,’ at the GITEX Africa Summit held in Morocco on 31st May 2023 .

He was joined by Dr. Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science and Technology Innovations in Uganda; Ghita Mezzour, the Moroccan Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform and Tahina Razafindramalo, the Minister of Digital Transformation among others.

Koné emphasized that cross-border integration should be accompanied by robust digital infrastructure to maintain sovereignty, as a lack thereof may be perceived as non-sovereign in some instances.

"Digital integration is becoming a prerequisite; we do not have a choice but to integrate our market," he stated. Koné further explained that expanding the market beyond national boundaries enables small and medium enterprises and startups to target consumers in other African nations.

Highlighting the progress made, Koné cited infrastructure and connectivity developments, along with initiatives like the Smart Africa Trust Alliance (SATA), which saw ten countries, including Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Zambia, signing a declaration to adopt digital identification.

When discussing the reasons behind Africa’s lag in digital infrastructure, Koné identified gaps that need to be addressed and called on governments to collaborate with the private sector.

"To move forward, we need a mindset change, as the development of any country relies on the private sector. We need a conducive environment to attract private sector investments," he noted.

Tahina Razafindramalo emphasized that unlocking Africa’s digital economy is vital for sustainable economic growth and job creation.

He commended African leaders for the progress made, particularly through initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area under the African Union’s Agenda 63, which is expected to boost trade.

Other panelists recommended stabilizing continental payment systems and streamlining logistics to facilitate smoother trade.

Ghita Mezzour, the Moroccan Minister Delegate for Digital Transition, pointed out the need to address the digital skills gap among the human capital. She stressed the importance of working together to create a harmonized environment that attracts both Africans and international partners to ensure the success of the digital market initiative.

Officially opened by Aziz Akhannouch, the inaugural Gitex Africa Summit, held in the Red City of Marrakech, brought together over 900 tech companies, government entities, startups, and participants from more than 100 countries.

The event runs from 31st May to 2nd June, where tech companies are showcasing innovations in various areas including health, agriculture, and artificial intelligence.

With more than 100 participating government entities from 80 countries, GITEX Africa 2023 will also be the catalyst of multiple investment pledges and pubic private partnership announcements spearheading the acceleration of Africa’s digital transformation initiatives.

The Director General of Smart Africa, Lacina Koné featured in panel discussions revolving around 'Uniting Towards One African Market'.
Different companies are eager to showcase digital innovations.
Ghita Mezzour, the Moroccan Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform , Director General of Smart Africa with other panelists at the event.
University students touring exhibitors' stands on the sidelines of GITEX Africa Summit.
The summit has created a platform for discussions to foster innovations.
inwi is among Moroccan telecoms showcasing their services.

All Photos: Théophile Niyitegeka/ Morocco