H.E. Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, addressed the MTN “Y’ello Connection Thought Leadership Roundtable” organized under the theme “Bridging the developmental gap: Africa’s digital acceleration path in the “new normal”. The high-level roundtable attended by leading industry experts and government officials aimed at discussing the impact and immediate steps needed to better leverage digital technologies and infrastructure under the “New Normal” with specific focus on the opportunities and challenges facing the Continent during and post-COVID pandemic.
“COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the importance of digital inclusion in daily life, but this “new normal” has reset the urgency to accelerate digital transformation on the Continent” said Dr Abou-Zeid
H.E. Commissioner underlined the crucial role of the private-public partnerships in accelerating digital transformation and the implementation of the AU Digital Transformation Strategy. She further stressed that “The Digital Transformation Strategy (2020-2030) is the blueprint and master plan that will guide a common, coordinated digitalization agenda to enhance synergies among a wide range of implementing partners and avoid duplication of effort and optimize utilization of the available limited resources. The African Union Commission has taken steps to implement the Digital transformation strategy by improving connectivity, promoting electronic transaction and delivery of e-services, creating the enabling policy and regulatory environment for an African digital market.”
In the context of the fight against COVID-19, collaboration offers the only opportunity for governments and businesses to accelerate digital transformation. Furthermore, socially marginalized groups, including rural communities, children, women and girls who are often excluded from digital development opportunities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Commissioner Abou-Zeid talked in-depth about those gaps deepened by the pandemic especially as relates to digital access, coverage, connectivity, digital skills and the content in local languages. She called for a global mobilization to develop strategies and put in place concrete actions to accelerate digital inclusion.
“We need to review our approaches and adapt ourselves to the digital era by developing harmonized digital policies and effective regulatory practices to leverage the potential of emerging technologies and protect the public and social interests of our countries.” added Dr Abou-Zeid
Mr. Lacina Koné, Director General/CEO of Smart Africa elaborated on the power of digital transformation in accelerating the pan African integration agenda and noted that “the vision of Smart Africa is to develop a digital single market by 2030. Thereby enabling a vibrant African digital economy in alignment with the African Digital Transformation Strategy”
H.E. Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria recalled the role of digital tools as a driving force for innovative, inclusive and sustainable growth. “Africa is at a watershed moment, where connectivity and innovation are at the forefront of digital transformation. Both industry and government will have to mobilize with urgency to develop policies and strategies, respectively, that will help foster economic growth, accelerate the delivery of universal access and create new digital opportunities for sustainable growth moving forward.” said Dr Ibrahim
Particular attention to building an African digital ecosystem and creating a conducive environment to economic growth and social inclusion was underscored by all speakers to implement the digital transformation strategy for the benefit Africans.