ICT sector is key for a thriving economy in Africa, says Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

December 05, 2017

ICT sector is key for a thriving economy in Africa, says Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

WUZHEN, Zhejiang China, 5th December 2017; The Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Amb. Kwesi Quartey wound up his three-day visit to China, where he led a delegation of the Commission for the fourth World Internet Conference. The conference was held under the theme "Developing digital economy for openness and shared benefits – building a community of common future in cyberspace".

Over 1,500 delegates from around the world attended the summit to deliberate on how to leverage on the benefits of the digital world as a significant enabler of economic growth and unexplored potential. With half of the world’s population using the Internet and with Information, communication and technology (ICT) now a proven driver of innovation for inclusive growth and sustainable economic development, the conference focused on how to accelerate technology to further drive commerce, communication, social exchanges, access to knowledge, as well as the harness its positive influence in the cultural and political spheres.

Africa, compared to the rest of the world, has less documented internet users and has low and unreliable connectivity. In this respect, the Deputy Chairperson, while addressing the delegates, underscored the African Union’s vision for the ICT sector to build, in partnership with stakeholders, the soft and hard infrastructure that will enable the continent to participate in the Information society and lead the fundamental changes of the 21st century in the digital economy.

“For us, digitalization and more specifically, the development of Internet, represent the greatest opportunity to transforming ourselves and to catching up with the rest of world in socio-economic sectors, notably, education, health, good governance and peace and security, by facilitating the delivery of services to citizens and businesses”, he stated.

To address the challenges of “digital poverty” and to create the desired digital economy, Amb. Kwesi emphasized on the need to educate every African child and to revolutionize skills development. This he said is aimed at ensuring every African citizenry can harness the potential of technology, by actualizing innovative ideas, exploring new job opportunities, expanding the entrepreneur prospectives and increasing incomes for the people, which in turn, grows the economies of nations across the continent.

“We do not want our young people to take the perilous journeys across the seas and deserts to look for a non-existent Eldorado while we can create opportunities for them back at home. Their home is Africa and we must find a way of harnessing the demographic dividend of our greatest resource, the youth. That can only be achieved if we complement skills development and the provision of basic education and creating the right foundation for our children, who in turn, will grow into resourceful youth”, the Deputy Chairperson stated.

Economic literature has proved the benefits of public and private sectors working together to pursue the Digital Content development prospects by targeting various industries in Africa, such as the Development of indigenous infotainment content. Africa’s strategy to digitize its heritage is seen as a key opportunity for Africa to get its share from the Digital Economy. This means that Africa would equally contribute to the advancement of the governance of internet.

Professor Haddis Mekonen, the Deputy Chairperson’s Advisor on capacity building observed therefore, the vital requisite to enact the necessary legal changes in order to adapt the existing laws to the reality of the digital environment and enable faster development of digital economies as well as build trust and confidence in the African Cyberspace. “We need to develop effective rules for Internet governance that allow for innovation and economic opportunities without compromising our privacy. By having governments, businesses, the tech community and regular Internet users work together, we can ensure this happens”, he noted.

The aspect of affordable internet connection rates remains crucial for businesses and individuals to access faster and reliable internet to meet the growing demands. On the downside, the rapid growth of Internet has created new opportunities for perpetrating cybercrime on a global scale. The increasing global cyber threats and cyber-attacks already constitute a threat to the national, regional and international peace and security.

Amb. Kwesi, in this regard, acknowledged that cyber security concerns are complex and broader and pose global difficulties which call for global frameworks to combat malicious activities in Cyberspace including, but not limited to, Cybercrime, Cyber-terrorism and Cyber conflicts, that may affect the security and stability of states and regions.

For media enquiries Contact:
Doreen Apollos | Communication Advisor | Bureau of the Deputy Chairperson | E-mail: ApollosD@africa-union.org | Tel: +251 115182737
Directorate of Information and Communication | African Union Commission I E-mail: DIC@africa-union.org I Web Site: www.au.int I Addis Ababa | Ethiopia