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Rwandan President urges African countries
to work together to ensure technology access

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame opened the Transform Africa 2017 Summit Wednesday in Kigali with a call on countries to collectively ensure universal access to technology.

Opening the summit, Kagame observed that technology is a powerful framework for bringing diverse stakeholders together to define challenges and find solutions.

“If technology is entrenching divides, rather than equalizing opportunities, then we are not harnessing it well. Access to technology information must also not distinguish between rich and poor. So long as women and girls are lagging behind then we are not on the right track. We must deliver on technology’s promise to bridge divides, rather than deepen them,” he said.

More than a quarter of the African population (334 million) has access to the Internet, the majority of who are young people and potential lifelong learners, according to a latest study by the Internet Society.

Kagame however said low connectivity in Africa should be regarded as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

“This must be regarded as an opportunity for stronger public-private collaboration. In Rwanda, our partnership with Korea Telecom has already served to speed up our progress toward the broadband target. Africa has to be connected, and why not at the highest possible speeds. Our future well-being, depends on how well we respond to these challenges, right now,” Kagame said.

The Rwandan leader said African leaders need to work together to put technology in hands of citizens in order to build inclusive and sustainable places to live, noting that the continent looks set to emerge as one of the planet’s great centers of growth, innovation and opportunity in the generations ahead.

Themed “Smart Cities”, the three-day summit drew Heads of State and government officials in ICT and related sectors such as digital economy, infrastructure, finance, health, education, and energy, and mayors of African cities.



Inclusive investment, smart techs to propel Africa’s smart cities drive: delegates

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Inclusive investments in people’s social and economic well being and adoption of smart information communication technologies will play a key role towards achieving Africa’s smart cities initiative, according to delegates attending the Transform Africa Summit 2017.

They made the remarks on Wednesday during the opening of the third Transform Africa Summit 2017, in the Rwandan Capital, Kigali.

The central African nation hosts the high level continental summit from May 10 to 12, with a focus on developing smart Africa cities using the power of technology.

“Transforming Africa means transforming Africans, by enabling a practical mindset of problem-solving. The focus on people is the starting point around which we can build everything else. We should invest heavily in our people and as well as smart technologies to achieve smart urbanized cities in Africa,” said Rwanda President Paul Kagame at the event.

He added that technology is a powerful framework for bringing diverse stakeholders together to define challenges and find solutions for smarter Africa because the continent is not as prosperous as it should be because the cities are too small and disconnected.

The meeting has attracted heads of states from several African countries, heads of Smart Africa organizations, delegates from UN Broadband Commission on Digital Development, technology chief executives, technology experts and young innovators from across Africa and beyond.

The opening session of the forum featured the unveiling of the Africa Smart and Sustainable Cities Blueprint and a high level dialogue between heads of state, private sector business leaders and executives of international organizations.

The smart cities agenda seeks to integrate urban planning, physical infrastructure, urban facilities, public space, service provision and ICT infrastructure into management and provision of critical public utilities and services in rural and urban setting.

Speaking at the summit, Zhao Houlin, secretary general of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said that smart technologies have the power to transform African cities into smart global competitive cities.

“Africans have the willingness to work and succeed. Africa policy makers and the private sector need to work together to transform African cities into dynamic and prosperous places,” he noted.

Transform Africa Summit is the annual leading African forum bringing together global and regional leaders from government, business and international organizations to collaborate on new ways of shaping, accelerating and sustaining Africa’s on-going digital revolution.

Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission said that heavy investments in the welfare of people and required infrastructure are key to a smarter way of life in cities in Africa.

“Africa remains the least-urbanized continent due to lack of smart technologies, limited innovation and poor urban planning,” she added.

The three-day conference has about 10 side events across multiple areas, including “smart women” summit, business leader’s symposium, and business to business session and Miss Geek competition.

The smart cities initiative, which aims at leveraging technology solutions to improve efficiency of cities, is backed by 11 African countries while more nations are expected to join.

Presently, member countries include Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Uganda, Senegal, South Sudan, Chad, Angola, Rwanda and Burkina Faso.




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