President Paul Kagame has challenged African countries to think about issues that make hike the cost of services in Africa while also allowing the rest of the world to inspect the continent.
The issues have a lot to see with lack of opening up to each other among the African countries.
At Transform Africa summit taking place in Kigali, Kagame was on a panel of discussion alongside his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta and Malian Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
He said that in this era of digital economy, Africa has been remaining behind, which should not be an option, and, at a time the continent is talking about transformation, it is high time for Africa “to build the necessary infrastructure and skills in Africa.”
This infrastructure however, should go hand in hand with an idea of African togetherness.
“Collaboration is the only way for us to navigate successfully, through the complex global dynamics we have to face,” Kagame said.
On this collaboration and opening up to each other, Kagame brought out a case of airspace in Africa whereby countries fail to break barriers, at the expense of the passengers.
“When flying from Rwanda, why would we have to go through Poland, Brussels to make it to Bamako? One must keep asking themselves the rationale,” Kagame said adding, that it can make sense of from Kigali, someone makes a stopover in Nairobi before transiting to Bamako, but going all that far is too much.
It is the same thing with telecommunication. Earlier in the morning, participants raised a challenge of data storage in Africa where the continent has to rely on Europe to keep everything.
The president also insisted on this challenge while asking Africans to change the trend.
“Data is moving like this air transport. When I make a call to President of Kenya or Mali, I think I am speaking to them directly but the call first had to take my voice to Europe to be inspected,” Kagame said.
“How can we not be talking about these things?”
The president suggested that, the private sector and governments should work hand in hand to initiate robust investments that would solve such problems.
“We have to unlock the private capital that can be put to good use for the benefit of the private sector and our citizens,” je said.
“We have to make sure the private sector does not work alone, they have to work in partnership with governments. And governments cannot work alone. If you want to maximize resources, you have to bring the two together and each does what they do best.”
The President however, said that all this would be sealed off by a political will.
“Some of these issues are technical, the others require resources but the essential thing is politics. It is ideological, it is just logic,” he said.
The conclusion is for Africa, working directly with each other and it is just logical.
Good news for Africa is that, countries have decided to break trade barriers. The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), an African common market agreement has now got all it takes to go into force. It will be launched in July in Niger.
Besides ACFTA, other continental initiatives are also being born.
Uhuru Kenyatta presented the participants, A Digital Economy Blueprint for Africa which was designed by his country on recommendation of Smart Africa Initiative, the organizer of Transform Africa summit.
The Blue print is built on five pillars including; digital infrastructure which suggests inexpensive internet connectivity, presence and use of digital platforms and services, e-business, innovation driven entrepreneurs and digital skills and values.
Participants were given an opportunity to say one and only one thing that Africa needs to do transform into a digital economy.
“Incentivize investment. What you have been doing for foreign investors, do it for startups,” Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General for UNCTAID suggested to African countries.
“The Cost of broadband is $ 20 average. It should be brought to $10,” Doctor Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa said.