The Head of State made the remarks on Tuesday 25th October 2022 as he officiated the opening of a three-day Mobile World Congress (MWC) Africa organized by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).
The summit held on the African continent for the first time brought together over 2000 participants form more than 50 countries.
These include major players in mobile telecommunication, ministers of ICT, non-profit organizations, investors and researchers among others.
The summit to be concluded on 27th October 2022 is expected to create opportunities for investment and cooperation to increase the number of smartphone owners and internet users in Africa.
President Kagame has said that digital technologies are a catalytic force for development in Africa but pointed out existing challenges where almost half of adults in low- and middle-income countries do not have access to the internet, even when living in areas with broadband coverage.
“Digital infrastructure is key, but it is not enough. To leverage the potential of connectivity, investments in digital skills and literacy must be integrated in our national policies,” he said.
The Head of State pointed out an example of Rwanda, where Kigali Innovation City aims to develop a competitive and productive workforce and a conducive environment for start-ups, with the support of the private sector.
The project to be set up in Kigali Special Economic Zone in Gasabo District will be completed at a tune of US$2 billion.
It comprises buildings that will host international universities, tech companies, and commercial buildings among others. The facility will sit on 70 hectares.
Some of buidlings under this –project including premises of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and African Leadership University (ALU) have been completed.
Considering the project under development, Kagame said that Africa is home to creative and tech-savvy youth, looking for the right platform to contribute solutions.
“We cannot afford to reduce them to a statistic, only, or sit idly by, as they seek opportunity outside of Africa. Our young people have a lot to offer. We must do our part, and keep our promise to them,” he noted.
The President highlighted that significant strides have been made on the continent to accelerate the digital transformation, through initiatives spearheaded by the African Union and Smart Africa, among others.
Aligning technology with good governance
Kagame also stressed the need to create a more enabling legal and regulatory environment to leave no one behind.
He underscored that everyone, regardless of status, gender, or nationality, must benefit, ‘if we want to create lasting change’.
The President said that emerging technologies are shaping the economic future everywhere in the world, as well as the conditions for peace and security.
“To speed up prosperity, technology has to go hand in hand with good governance,” he noted.
The Director General of the GSMA, Mats Granryd said that the Africa presents a lot of investment opportunities in digital technologies that will contribute to the continent’s economic growth.
Last year, over 500 million Africans had mobile phones. The figures represent 46% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population. The number is projected to increase to more than 600 million in 2025.
Granryd explained that mobile penetration contributes to countries’ economies considering that fact that the use of mobile phones contributes 5% of the global GDP (US$500 billion).
In the Sub-Saharan Africa, using mobile phones contributed 8% (US$140 billion) to the total GDP in 2021. It also created over 3.2 million jobs.
However, there is still a long way to go as a half of the global population (3.6 billion) has no access to internet.