Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened the 2017 Transform Africa Summit in Kigali on Wednesday, calling on countries to collectively ensure universal access to technology.
Opening the summit, Mr. Kagame observed that technology is a powerful framework for bringing together various actors to define challenges and find solutions.
“If technology reinforces divisions, rather than equalizing opportunities, then we are not exploiting it well. Access to technological information should also not distinguish the rich and the poor. As long as women and girls are late, we are not on the right track. We need to live up to the technology’s promise to connect the divisions rather than deepen them, ”he said.
More than a quarter of Africa’s population (334 million) has access to the Internet, the majority of which are young people and potential lifelong learners, according to a latest study by the Internet Society.
However, President Kagame said poor connectivity in Africa should be seen as an opportunity rather than a challenge.
“This should be seen as an opportunity for stronger public and private collaboration. In Rwanda, our partnership with Korea Telecom has already helped accelerate our progress towards the broadband goal. Africa must be connected and why not at the highest possible speed. Our future depends on how we respond to these challenges now, ”he said.
The Rwandan leader said African leaders must work together to put technology in the hands of citizens to create inclusive and sustainable spaces to live in, noting that the continent should become one of the major centers of growth, innovation and opportunity for future generations of the planet.
Under the theme ‘smart cities’, the three-day summit attracted heads of state and mayors from cities on the continent, as well as experts in communication and information technology, and related sectors such as digital economy, infrastructure, finance, health, education and energy.