Kagame: With ICT ‘We Can Make Sure Africa Is Never Again Left Behind’

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Africans have often missed opportunities to accelerate development but they can no longer afford to be excluded, Rwandan President Paul Kagame told a gathering of 2500-plus delegates from 81 countries at the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, BiztechAfrica reports.

Kagame, dubbed the digital president by International Telecommunications Union, played host to the three-day event.

Kagame is a tech addict, a tweep — a Twitter person —  and social media analysts say he is Africa’s most conversational president, according to KTPress Rwanda. Kagame had a bigger following on Twitter than any other African leader, KTPress reported a year ago.

This week, Kagame called for African governments to drive greater digital adoption and innovation, saying they need to collaborate on solutions for unlocking Africa’s full potential.

“(By) placing information and communications technology (ICT) at the core of our transformation agenda we can make sure that Africa is never again left behind,” Kagame said.

Kagame likened ICT to women’s empowerment, saying technology cuts across all departments and portfolios. “This means that everyone is responsible for integrating ICT into the work of their institutions. Technology is not just about gadgets, but results on the ground that benefit citizens. It can transform the lives of people who may have never touched a smartphone,” he said.

Entrepreneurs from across Africa pitched startups to a panel of angel investors and other financiers at the summit in a session named “Face the Gorillas.”

“ICT is increasingly making access to world class education and information affordable to everyone,” Kagame said. “Africa can no longer be excluded from globalization. We must develop our human capital and productivity using the same methods that are taken for granted in many other places. That doesn’t mean anything will be easy, the existence of technology doesn’t automatically change lives. A mindset of curiosity, responsibility and hard work is necessary if we are to become our best selves and to compete effectively in the wider world.”

Speakers at the summit included the following: Ruhakana Rugunda, prime minister of Uganda; Jose Carvalho de Rocha, minister of telecommunications and IT from Angola; Modibo Keita, prime minister of Mali; Flavien Nziengui Nzoundou, deputy prime minister of vocational training in Gabon; Fred Matiang’I, Kenyan ministry of ICT; and Rebecca Joshua, minister of telecommunications and postal services of South Sudan.