Ruto calls for close African countries’ cooperation to boost connectivity as Connected Summit kicks off

The Connected Africa Summit 2024 inaugurates Africa’s digital transformation and puts Kenya on the map as an ICT and eCommerce hub

President William Ruto on Monday called for increased connectivity between African countries to hasten the continent’s digital transformation.

President Ruto, who was speaking as he opened ICT-sector premier forum Connected Africa Summit 2024 in Nairobi, said the event inaugurates Africa’s digital transformation, the spark which will ignite the continent’s rapid development in every sector.

“We are here to mobilise our shared dreams and ambitions, visions and strategies to pave pathways to  our common future, a future designed and built by Africans, for Africa,” he said.

He noted that the primary ambition of the Summit is to enhance collaboration and share innovations that will lay a sustainable foundation of connectivity and empower the people of Africa to achieve the UN sustainable development goals, as well as the AU’s Agenda 2063.

President Ruto said Africa still has a long way to go to achieve a vibrant digital economy as its internet penetration rate is 36 percent, which translates to 473 million users, in a continent of 1.4 billion people.
Recent projections indicate that at the  current pace of development, this number will increase by an additional 300 million by 2030.

“We must all be concerned by the fact that our rate of connectivity is poorer than the existing potential. This has critical implications for our ambitions for both connectivity and economic transformation through the digital
economy. The reason is that even an increase of only 10 percent in our broadband connectivity can lead to a 1.4 percent GDP growth in the continent,” he said.

He observed that closing the digital divide is a priority for Africa in
terms of enhancing connectivity, expanding the contribution of  the ICT sector to Africa’s GDP and driving overall economic growth.

“Africa’s digital economy has immense potential, which is projected to reach $712 billion by 2050. This growth projection is informed by a number of key positive factors, including  our youthful population – the youngest globally – is motivated and prepared  to drive the digital economy, foster innovation and entrench new technologies,” he said.

The President lauded the World Bank for investing $2.8 billion in digital development projects in Africa, enabling  countries to surmount challenges in developing digital infrastructure and drive sustainable growth of safe and inclusive digital economies.

“More partnerships like this are essential for our digital and economic inclusion agenda and besides, they are sound investments whose dividends will endure for generations to come. I wish to emphasise to the global community, and especially financial institutions and private investors that betting  on Africa’s future now is the best investment decision with
unprecedented immediate and long-term benefits,” said the President.

He observed that Kenya is willing to share its digital journey experiences and learn from other countries across the continent.

“It is by sharing knowledge and  experiences, pooling resources, harmonising strategies, aligning investments and working as partners, that we shall rise together. This collaborative spirit is what we need to transform Africa into a digitally empowered and economically thriving continent,” he said.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said the Summit will help African countries come up with a common position in order to reap from growing opportunities that digital technology offers.

President William Ruto (centre), ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo (right), and Principal Secretaries Eng. John Tanui (left) and Edward Kisiang’ani (second right) at the Connected Africa Summit

ICT Principal Secretary, Eng. John Tanui, noted that the Summit will look at various technology issues including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
Participants at the event include ministers, thought leaders and ICT companies from 35 African countries and 14 others from Europe and Latin America.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi, PS Broadcasting Edward Kisiang’ani, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, EU Ambassador Henriette Geiger, COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mbundu Kapwepwe and ICT Ministers from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Congo, Zambia and Estonia are among the dignitaries who attended the event.

Principal Secretaries from over 30 countries, Smart Africa CEO Lacina Kone, MPs led by the Chairman of the ICT Committee of the National Assembly John Kiarie, partners and donors as well Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board (KYEB) chairman Sande Oyolo, Directors Dr Paul K’Angira and Mulei Muia and CEO Lilian Kimeto also attended the event that has attracted over 5,000 delegates.

Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board CEO, Ms Lilian Kimeto, MPRSK, addresses the media on the role of KYEB in the Connected Africa Summit

KYEB is at the Summit to highlight Kenya’s digital transformation as part of its mandate to document government initiatives and development.

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