During his opening address at the recently held Transform Africa Summit 2019 in Kigali, President Paul Kagame stated that growing Africa's digital economy is a pan African responsibility. The summit was held under the theme "Boosting Africa's Digital Economy" and it showcased success stories in the African digital economy and promoted homegrown businesses, innovations, solutions and partnerships. The mobile phone industry was one of the highlights and examples.
Two other heads of state in attendance at the summit, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali, also echoed Kagame's call to support Africa's digital agenda with an enabling environment – resources, policies, partnership and action.
“We need to seize the opportunities of the new market,” President Keita said.
On the other hand, Kenya's Kenyatta cited M-PESA, which is owned by the UK's Vodafone Group, as an example. With M-PESA, Kenya has seen almost 97% of its population gain access to financial services, Kenyatta said.
Showcasing African innovation
Digital startups in finance, agriculture and business were highlighted at the summit as changing the face of Africa's digital economy. It was also noted that for Africa's burgeoning technology startup ecosystem to continue growing and to translate into greater benefits, enhancing connectivity will have to be a priority.
“Our objective is to identify major opportunities to accelerate digital development on the Continent and set the stage for deeper partnerships in the digital economy area under the Africa-Europe Investment and Jobs Alliance framework," Pierre Guislain, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization at the African Development Bank.
Among the key topics on the discussed at this year's summit is the role of the digital economy in accelerating regional and continental integration, the development of a single digital market in Africa, harmonization of conducive policy and regulatory frameworks, including labor and data mobility, and measures to foster full participation of women and youth in the digital economy.
Cover image credit: Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. Transform Africa Summit 2019