Read time: 3 minutes

Smart Africa membership more than doubles

Smart Africa membership more than doubles

The President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, who serves as chairperson of the Smart Africa Alliance board, has told representatives of the organisation's board that the organisation now covers 17 countries, representing a market of approximately 360 million people.

Established in 2013, Smart Africa is an alliance of African governments, the private sector, international organisations and academia with the aim to promote affordable access to broadband and ICT in general.

Kagame reported that Smart Africa has managed to more than double its membership. "Our meeting marks the 1st anniversary of the Smart Africa Secretariat, whose host agreement was signed in Addis Ababa last year. I want to thank you, for your support to the secretariat and Smart Africa Scholarship Fund, one of our flagship programs. Our Alliance started with 7 member countries, & now has 17 countries on board representing a market of about 360 million people."

Kagame also urged Smart Africa members to capitalise on recent upsurge in the number of members to pursue the organisation's goals.

"This growing commitment to leverage ICT for transformation and growth has to be matched for wins to our citizens. The world is already embracing the 4th Industrial Revolution. Our challenge is to catch up in providing universal broadband. To succeed in making African homes, offices, schools & cities smart, we have to harness opportunities in exponential technologies. These technologies include; artificial intelligence, robotics, drones, big data, blockchain, and 3D printing."

Call for partnerships by government and industry

Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the ITU and Joseph Mucheru, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications were among the attendees at this week's board meeting.

Representatives from the private sector included those from Ericsson, which joined the Smart Africa Alliance as technical advisor last year. Huawei, Inmarsat, Econet and Liquid Telecom also attended the meeting.

Kagame is a big proponent of partnerships between public private partnerships. He called for closer cooperation a few days ahead of his address at the Smart Africa in a speech delivered during the launch of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) centre for Africa in Kigali.

"In order to succeed, we will need to integrate important lessons from implementing the MDGs, particularly promoting gender equality, and harnessing science and technology. Raising our focus from reducing poverty to building prosperity will also require closer collaboration with, as well as higher expectations of, the private sector. And that's why we're are happy to have Mr Dangote here. We do not need to reinvent business, or change its mission. It should keep doing what it does best. But all the stakeholders should be measured against the same standards and goals. We therefore have to establish a clear way to measure the impact of both public and private sector actors."

Kagame invited all who were present at the Smart Africa Board Meeting to visit Rwanda for the Transform Africa 2017 conference in May.

Daily newsletter