The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Valentine Rugwabiza has said that Africa’s development lies in using ICT.
Rugwabiza said this in her opening remarks at the Transform Africa Summit 2013; held in Kigali under the theme “future delivered today” which she said that Rwanda was thrilled and excited to have over 1500 participants present.
“The theme tells it all. We all know that our continent is mother of all man kind and the fantastic achievement through ICT and what the present tells us- is that this continent (Africa) is also the future of all mankind” she said.
“Looking at the numbers, looking at the dynamics; there is not a single region in the world today, which can plan its future development without factoring in the African continent, without factoring in the resources of this continent and that starts with its population.”
She also asked the participants to respond to the questions about Africa’s future and how ICT has completely changed lives compared to the way Africa was 20 years ago.
“This analysis will tell us the potential of ICT in transforming lives and opening opportunities beyond our expectations two decades ago,” she reiterated.
Rugwabiza urged participants to make sure that they utilize the summit, engage with all the stakeholders around and share experiences so as to benefit in the future ICT prospectus for Africa.
“We know what we can achieve through ICT in all aspects but let’s take the full opportunity to share the 1000 opportunities, engage and understand what is happening elsewhere and know that you are a partner in transforming Africa.”
She challenged the participants to think of Africa’s future potential saying that it not only natural resources but how to relate to these resources, to ponder on whether Africa wants cheap labor or empowered skilled labor; to engage in smart partnerships/business or just offer hands and very basic manpower without adding value.
According to Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there are two things of particular interest in the summit – “the theme of the summit which encapsulates the future of optimism and confidence which I see right across the great continent of Africa- which helps to drive forward social and economic progress such as we have never seen before
Second that the summit has been jointly organized by Rwanda which has long recognized that youth are the future of all nations and ICT’s are crucial to the development in this 21st century.
He also lauded the leadership role taken by President Paul Kagame in ICT development and using ICT as a platform of meeting the millennium development goals.
We are getting there…ICT for health, education, commerce, agriculture, and development. We are privileged that President Paul Kagame has created that link which is greatly inspired by the example in Rwanda.
He said that he would like to see the youth spearhead this development in Africa and noted that the past six years have been transformative for Africa in the field of ICT.
During the ITU summit in 2007, mobile penetration was close to 23.5% in Africa, now over 63.5%. Internet penetration went from 3.9 at the end of 2007 and at the end of 2013 is expected to be at 16.3%, while $55 billion has been invested in ICT in Africa & expected to reach $70 billion.
Dr. Touré of says that he is convinced that with the rise of mobile broadband, the fastest growing technology in human history, Africa will see even faster progress in the next six years.
Over the past decade, broadband connectivity has greatly increased across Africa as the continent keeps up with global ICT trends that are now largely driven by innovation – particularly in mobile technology.
The summit, a second one after Connect Africa which was held in 2007 and focused on connecting citizens, will set a new agenda for Africa to leapfrog development challenges through the use and uptake of broadband and related services.
The exciting four days includes a Leaders Summit, Smart Days Africa, a parallel youth innovation and entrepreneurship summit, a cutting edge exhibition and Transform Africa Continental Awards.