ADDIS ABABA – African countries are urged to implement a comprehensive Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa as building a digital future is crucial if the continent is to become globally competitive and make remarkable difference in the era of technology.
Participants attending a virtual session of the African World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Implementation Meeting on “COVID-19: A Catalyst to Achieving WSIS Outcomes” agreed Monday that African leaders need to always think digital technology especially now as the continent continues to grapple with the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has affected millions across the world.
Its main aim is to serve as a frame of reference in order to achieve the common vision of creating an integrated and inclusive digital society and economy in Africa that improves the quality of life of its citizens, strengthens and enables the diversification and development of the existing economic sector, and ensures continental ownership, with Africa as a producer and not only a consumer in the global economy.
As to the participants, harnessing digital technologies and innovation to transform Africa’s societies and economies is crucial not only to promote Africa’s integration but also generate inclusive economic growth, stimulate job creation, erase the widening digital divide and eradicate poverty to secure the benefits of the digital revolution for socio-economic development.
“Organizations, governments, private sectors and even individuals are trying to find ways of using ICT to detect manage and minimize the impact of COVID-19,” said Andrew Rugege, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Director for Africa.
Launched in 2019, Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school in the world. Some 3.6 billion people in the world do not have access to the Internet, among them 1.3 billion children who have been cut from school by the ongoing crisis, said Rugege.
Rugege said the project will bring the power of meaningful connectivity to fast track young people’s access to educational resources and opportunities, especially in Africa.
Jean Paul Adam, Director of the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management Division at the ECA, on his part said ICTs are an important engine for achieving the sustainable development goals.
“ICTs can play a crucial role in our lives and can greatly contribute to the implementation of the SDGs. They provide new solutions and, where appropriate infrastructure, skills, and services are available, they can be incredibly powerful in transforming education, healthcare or the way we do business,” he said.
Moctar Yedaly, Head of the Information Society Division at the AUC, said, “This is a great opportunity for the continent to transform itself. The digital economy is an important sector; so, we need to embrace technology and leapfrog if we are to survive.”
The meeting highlighted progresses made by African countries in the implementation of the WSIS outcomes to fight COVID-19 in the attainment of Agenda 2063, assessed the implementation of the Africa Digital Transformation Strategy in line with WSIS, evaluated key actions being taken to bridge the digital divide on the continent and discussed Africa’s digital infrastructure access.
The Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa was developed in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Smart Africa, AUDA-NEPAD, Regional Economic Communities, African Development Bank, Africa Telecommunications Union, Africa Capacity Building Foundation, International Telecommunication Union and the World Bank, it was learnt.
Herald September 2, 2020
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