The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) Information Communication Technology Ministers in Africa have both agreed that adopting digitalisation of systems in the continent will bring about digital economic growth in African countries.
Speaking at a ministerial forum at ongoing AfricaCom 2022, which brought participants from Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia, General Secretary of the ATU, John Omo said that digital transformation as the driver of inclusive economic growth, job creation, the improvement of public service delivery, and the optimisation of business services in Africa would see the Continent competing with other technologically advanced nations of the world.
Mr. Omo who spoke at the conference themed ‘Rise Stronger with Digital Economy’ noted that African nations must focus on methods that will engineer a new sense of hope for Africa’s digital economic journey.
He said “Africa needs digital innovation to spill over into all segments of business and society if we are to strengthen our digital economy. According to the World Bank, Africa requires US$100 trillion to achieve full digital transformation, and no one, in the public or private sector, has the capacity to do this alone. Through the power of investment and of regulation, together we can craft a framework that will give effect to the growth and development we want to see.”
Similarly, Huawei President of Sub-Saharan Africa Region, Leo Chen, emphasized the three major elements of digital transformation namely digital infrastructure, digital services and digital skills.
Chen said: “If we do these three things well, we can connect the unconnected people and businesses, fully unleash digital productivity and develop the digital economy, no matter what its definition is. To achieve this, Huawei innovates to impact with local partners, to find local solutions to local problems,” Chen said.
According to him “We are addressing the issue of connectivity, especially in rural areas, we are also bringing fiber to the home, as well as business. Once we have the connectivity, we can address the issue of digital literacy, he said. What the guests have in common is the integration though all government ministries, departments and agencies of the digitisation process, for example in issues around agriculture and education – technology is being incorporated through their systems,” Chen stated .
Zambia’s National Coordinator of SMART Zambia Institute, Percy Chinyama explained that the digital sector has been given authority in Zambia, saying that “We are working to maximise the work of revenue generating departments and to reduce duplications of work and now have 240 government services online”.
Commenting on the development, Deputy Minister of Information and Communication technology in Namibia , Mr. Emma Theofelus, said ICT and climate change share equal importance in Namibia, adding that digitization and energy efficiency go hand in hand, saying “the government is committed to working to increase levels of digitization and reducing our impact on climate change.”
Ugandan Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Chris Baryomunsi, said “Even as we have increased the number of tertiary education institutions, levels of unemployment remain a problem, and so we are working towards greater job creation for graduates,” he explained.
The forum closed with the signature of a joint communique where all participants agreed that the development of the digital economy is measurable. In order to develop the digital economy, countries need to have in place a top-level strategy and an implementation roadmap, with clear objectives, indicators and milestones.
They also need favourable policies to encourage investment, improve efficiency and enable the infrastructure, skills, digital ecology and innovation needed to grow the digital economy and create a fair business environment for all investor.