Africa: Kenyatta, Kagame Push for Digital Transformation of Africa

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta have called on other African leaders to invest heavily in technology to ensure faster and efficient services.

The heads-of state were speaking at the opening of Transform Africa Summit in the Rwandan capital Kigali on Wednesday.

"Data is moving like this air transport. When I make a call to President of Kenya or Mali, I think I am speaking to them directly but the call first had to take my voice to Europe to be inspected. How can we not be talking about these things?" posed President Kagame.

"When flying from Rwanda, why should we have to go through Poland or Brussels to make it to Bamako? One must keep asking themselves the rationale. We need to keep upping our game in realising the need for cooperation...it means working directly with each other and it is just logical."

President Kenyatta said that African states must ensure that technology is not used as a medium of propagating social vices such as division, classism and ethnicity but rather as a tool to solve problems.

"Instead access to technology must be the used for solving problems with new perspectives, for creating exciting opportunities that empower our youth to determine their future, a future that guarantees prosperity and equality for all," said Kenyatta.

"Only a few African countries have made progress in developing digital identity systems as a unique identifier for their citizens. This greatly hinders the ability to fully exploit the opportunities of a digital economy which fully relies on trust."

He added that adoption of digital identification systems will mitigate the low levels of trust between different actors in the digital chain and promote business.

President Kenyatta noted that his administration was making efforts to create a pool of graduates skilled in ICT, who have been instrumental in developing the country's current National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS).

Kenya has been selected to develop a blue print for the "Smart Africa Initiative", a continental body charged with creating a single digital Market in Africa.

Transform Africa Summit brings together global and regional leaders from government, business and international organisations to chart a way forward for ICT development in Africa.

The four-day event was also attended by the President of Mali Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, as well as 4,000 delegates from across Africa and the world, under the theme, "Boosting Africa's Digital Economy".

The summit is also scheduled to host the "Miss Geek" competition, which encourages African girls to pursue studies in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (stem).

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