Transform Africa summit kicks off in Kigali

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda's Minister for Youth and ICT

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT

The 2015 Transform Africa summit kicked off today in Kigali, Rwanda with ICT experts calling for more inclusiveness in internet access, a problem that is believed to be hindering Africa’s development despite technology’s role in economic transformation of the continent today.

The Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Houlin Zhao said that the growth of ICTs in Africa remains a phenomenon that is posed to challenge other countries including the west, but many countries have not implemented their smart country programmes.

“In Europe there is a Single digital mighty, in Africa single network- let’s see who moves faster. I hope Africa moves faster than Europe. Smart African is a drive for the private sector and we look forward to see this become the drive for Africa growth” Zhao said.

Zhao cited areas where Africa has shown potential in leading the smart global drive especially in mobile penetration and subscription which is at a high rate in Africa and could be doubled by 2020.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister for Youth and ICT, said, “There is a lot of interest from Asia, Europe and elsewhere.” Nsengimana says the summit will build on the previous summit’s impact, under the theme, ‘Accelerating Digital Innovation.’

Professor Romain Murenzi, the Director General of World Academy of Sciences said that Africa has the potential but there are still obstacles of using its potential fully because of lack of training in ICT based technology.

Murenzi said that even with training available most of the app developers have not been given entrepreneurial skills to survive in business thus most of the initiatives not being able to take off.

While some still hold on to the fact that Africa is the next technology hub, experts decried the fact that internet access in Africa is still inaccessible by many thus impeding innovation and increase of access to information which can be central in the continent’s development.

A recent UN report indicates internet connectivity most countries in Sub-Saharan African region stands at less than 2%.

Elsie Kanza, the Head for Africa-World Economic Forum (WEF) said that “the push and pull challenge affecting the internet access and there is need to find a way of making supply and demand ends meet”