In the heart of Africa, a digital revolution is underway. As the world witnesses the unprecedented growth of technology, the African continent stands poised to harness its transformative power and reshape the future. Welcoming this wave of innovation, the Transform Africa Summit brings together visionaries, policymakers, entrepreneurs, and technologists from across the globe to accelerate Africa’s digital revolution.
The Transform Africa Summit 2023 is organized by the Smart Africa Alliance, and with the participation of five Heads of State, including a King, and 44 ministers, the event showcased the commitment of African nations to harness the power of technology for development. The summit attracted around 4000 delegates from 91 countries, fostering international collaboration and knowledge sharing. Against a backdrop of rising connectivity, expanding mobile penetration, and an entrepreneurial spirit that knows no bounds, this year’s summit was an extraordinary testament to Africa’s potential.
We are in a new digital era, where innovation serves as the catalyst for economic empowerment, social progress, and the realization of Africa’s boundless potential.Akim Benamara, Founder of TechAfrica News
From vibrant panel discussions featuring thought leaders to new partnerships being established, we captured the energy and momentum of the summit in Zimbabwe, highlighting the remarkable individuals and organizations driving Africa’s technological advancement. With a focus on inclusive growth, digital inclusion, and sustainable development, the Transform Africa Summit is poised to pave the way for Africa’s prosperous future.
Under the stewardship of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, who presided over the Smart Africa Board Meeting, Transform Africa Summit 2023 witnessed the convergence of Africa’s leaders and representatives from across the continent. With the prominent presence of President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the host state, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, King Mswati III of Eswatini, and delegates from the Alliance’s 36 member nations, the summit served as a beacon of hope and opportunity, propelling Africa towards a future defined by innovation, digital inclusion, and sustainable development.
Technology is a development priority and must be embraced if our Continent is to transform, modernise and industrialise in a fast changing global environment. Rapid innovations in science, communications and computing technologies are opening up new opportunities for enhancing participation by all in the modern global economy. African Governments and stakeholders from the Continent and beyond have an obligation to usher Africa into a knowledge based economy anchored on the benefits of technology. The onus is on all of us to facilitate the closure of gaps in living standards among African citizens, riding on ICTs. The peoples of Africa should not be left behind.His Excellency Dr. E. D. Mnangagwa, The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
To build the Africa we dream of, we need to move faster, and the 4th industrial revolution allows us to accelerate. To leapfrog is not enough, we need to cheetah leap!
The Africa we want is a connected, innovative and transformed continent. The theme of this Transform Africa Summit 2023 translates the roadmap of the Africa’s digital revolution to reach our shared vision to accelerate the creation of a single digital market by 2030. Now we must redesign ourselves for the new challenges and opportunities that Africa faces.Mr. Lacina KONÉ, Director General / CEO of Smart Africa
Shaping Africa’s Digital Future: The Path to Inclusive Transformation
In our coverage of the Transform Africa Summit, TechAfrica News witnessed a shared commitment among policymakers, industry leaders, innovators, and communities to harness the potential of technology as a catalyst for change. The summit highlighted key imperatives that will shape Africa’s digital future, including closing the digital divide, nurturing local innovation, fostering digital literacy, and leveraging emerging technologies for social impact.
Today is an exciting time when the world is changing at an unprecedented pace. The pace of technological advances is staggering and the world is more interconnected than ever. Africa must therefore not be left behind.His Majesty King Mswati III, King of Eswatini
Closing the Digital Divide: Africa recognizes the urgent need to bridge the digital divide that hampers progress and hinders inclusive growth. Initiatives discussed at the summit underscored the importance of expanding connectivity, improving infrastructure, and providing affordable access to the internet for all African citizens. By prioritizing connectivity as a fundamental right, Africa can empower its people, enabling them to participate fully in the digital economy and society.
When it comes to Africa’s economic and social development, the only way to catch up is to take a shortcut that allows us to go digital in all sectors of our economy.H.E. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi
Nurturing Local Innovation: The Transform Africa Summit emphasized creating an enabling environment that nurtures local talent and supports innovation ecosystems. By investing in research and development, fostering collaboration between academia and industry, and providing mentorship and funding opportunities, Africa can unleash its full potential and become a hotbed of technological innovation.
The young African innovators are challenged to deploy our continent’s abundant raw materials for the production of ICT related hardware, software and various gadgets.H.E Emmerson Mnangagwa President of the Republic of Zimbabwe
Fostering Digital Literacy: Digital literacy is the key to unlocking Africa’s potential. The summit recognized the importance of equipping individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate the digital landscape. Promoting digital literacy through education, training programs, and initiatives targeting underserved communities will empower Africans to fully participate in the digital economy, fostering entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
The future of digital transformation and inclusion in Africa is one of boundless possibilities. TechAfrica News envisions a continent where technology acts as a catalyst for socioeconomic advancement, every African citizen has equal access to opportunities, and digital innovation is a powerful tool for addressing pressing challenges and realizing Africa’s immense potential.
The Voices of Africa’s Digital Revolution
Through our in-depth interviews, we uncover the diverse perspectives, industry insights, and strategic initiatives that emerged from the summit. TechAfrica News connects you with the voices at the forefront of Africa’s digital revolution, from government officials and policymakers to innovative startups and global industry leaders.
Through these exclusive interviews, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable individuals and organizations committed to driving inclusive growth, fostering digital literacy, and harnessing the power of emerging technologies to improve African societies.
Lacina Kone, CEO of Smart Africa, discusses with Akim Benamara, Founder of TechAfrica News the challenges of connecting Africa to the digital world and the need for digitized services to reach every corner of the continent.
“Connecting Africa to the rest of the world is one of the mountains and hills we still need to climb. We still need to tackle a big problem: connecting Africa to the digital world.
While nearly 63% of the world’s population thrives online, Africa is lagging behind at just 40%. This is unacceptable because we need everyone to be connected if we want real change. To truly transform society, we need digitised government services and private sector initiatives to reach every corner of the continent.”
Rwanda’s ICT Minister, Paula Ingabire, discussed with Akim Benamara the importance of Smart Africa Alliance ratification and the need for harmonized ICT policies to create a more inclusive digital ecosystem in Africa.
“For local startups and companies, regulatory harmonization is essential, as they face a major challenge. Furthermore, staying current with technological advancements is necessary since emerging technologies are continuously changing. By streamlining and harmonizing regulations and policies, we can create a uniform environment for innovation and technological advancements to occur across the continent. This, in turn, facilitates an enabling environment for startups to grow and thrive.”
Today, Smart Africa represents the new Africa: bold, limitless, innovative, pragmatic, disruptive, agile, participative, and inclusive while maintaining the sovereignty of African countries. And with our new Smart Africa Triennial Strategy 2023-2025, we aim to significantly impact Africa’s social-economic transformation in a fast-changing continent. Above all, with this new strategy, we continue to put African people at the center of the digital revolution for the creation of fair and inclusive societies that provide equal opportunities for ALL.Mr. Lacina KONÉ, Director General & CEO of Smart Africa
As we reflect on the Transform Africa Summit, we are truly inspired by the collective commitment and determination witnessed throughout the event. The future of digital transformation and inclusion in Africa holds immense promise. We believe that by closing the digital divide, nurturing local innovation, fostering digital literacy, and leveraging emerging technologies for social impact, Africa will unlock its true potential and pave the way for inclusive growth and sustainable development. We are honored to share the stories, insights, and successes of Africa’s digital pioneers, and we remain steadfast in our mission to empower, inform, and inspire our readers as we shape Africa’s digital future together.Akim Benamara, Founder of TechAfrica News
Prioritizing People and Partnerships in Africa to Provide Innovative Cybersecurity Solutions
Anthony Subero, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hitachi Systems Security, discusses the importance of a customer-centric approach to cybersecurity in Africa, focusing on user training, education, and building digital confidence.
Why is it important for Hitachi Systems to be part of this year’s Transform Africa Summit?
I wouldn’t say, “Why is it important for us to be in Transform Africa this year?”. The ideal should be, “Why is it important to be in Africa?” I mean, the potential of Africa is huge. It is no secret as to why global leaders are invested in Africa –It’s the future. Africa has enormous potential, and global leaders recognize this fact, which is why investing in Africa is important. It’s a strange dynamic because it may have depleted their resources in their respective areas.
Our focus is not just on selling technology, but on building partnerships. We come to the Transform Africa Summit to help develop the right policies, strategies, and regulations for digitalization, based on our partners’ experiences, especially in cases with no existing regulations, such as digital identity. We seek out local companies and partners to empower them with the necessary knowledge and expertise, so they can manage their digital transformation. We aim to collaborate with local companies and work alongside governments to ensure the digital transformation is managed effectively and sustainably.Doris Põld, CEO of ITL Estonia
The Blueprint for the successful digital transformation of Africa
The importance of a blueprint for Africa’s digital transformation cannot be overstated, as highlighted during the Transform Africa Summit 2023, where TechAfrica News conversed with industry leaders and policymakers. This consensus reflects the recognition that a well-defined strategic framework is essential to effectively drive the continent’s digital progress.
The existence of the Smart Africa Alliance is a testament to the significance of a blueprint. Serving as a vital platform, the alliance aims to facilitate the sharing of blueprints and success stories, thereby enabling the replication of successful initiatives across the African continent. While pockets of success exist in certain areas, isolated silos hinder widespread access to valuable knowledge and best practices.
By creating a knowledge base accessible to all, the blueprint for Africa’s digital transformation would allow individuals, organizations, and governments to share their experiences and lessons. This collective wisdom can empower stakeholders to make informed decisions, adopt successful strategies, and avoid reinventing the wheel. The blueprint would serve as a roadmap, guiding key priorities, strategies, and implementation plans, ensuring that efforts and investments are aligned towards a shared vision.
Moreover, the blueprint would enable African nations to leverage digital technologies for sustainable economic growth, job creation, improved governance, enhanced education, healthcare advancements, and increased connectivity. By learning from one another’s successes and failures, countries can fast-track their digital transformation journey and overcome challenges more effectively.
The blueprint’s importance lies in fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing and addressing the existing gaps and disparities. It would help bridge the digital divide by providing guidance on inclusive policies, infrastructure development, and skills training. By ensuring that no one is left behind, the blueprint can create a more equitable and prosperous digital future for all Africans.
Sparking a conversation
The summit featured several engaging sessions that delved into key topics and showcased best practices for leveraging technology to address critical challenges and unlock Africa’s digital economy.
Smart Africa eGovernment DPG Breakfast hosted by Irembo
One of the sessions at the summit, the Smart Africa eGovernment DPG Breakfast, focused on the concept of Digital Public Goods (DPGs) and their significance in Africa. DPGs, such as open-source software, digital health tools, and educational resources, hold immense value in bridging the digital divide, increasing access to essential services, and fostering inclusive economic growth. The session highlighted how eGovernment DPGs can enhance government services, promote transparency, and foster innovation in the public sector. Participants engaged in interactive discussions, sharing practical examples and best practices from around the world, and identified potential use cases and opportunities for leveraging eGovernment DPGs in their own jurisdictions.
Leveraging Digital Public Infrastructures for Accelerating Financial Inclusion: Another noteworthy session explored the role of digital infrastructure in accelerating financial inclusion and driving the digital economy. The discussion emphasized the importance of collaboration between public and private sectors and the need for responsible policies and regulations that balance innovation, privacy, security, and inclusion concerns. The session highlighted how digital technology has the potential to improve financial inclusion for underserved communities and drive economic growth. It stressed the significance of equitable distribution of the benefits of digital transformation, ensuring that no one is left behind.
Role of Government in Unlocking the Digital Economy: Case Study of Sierra Leone: The Smart Africa Digitalization Acceleration Program (SADAP) and the Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation collaborated to support member states’ digital transformation efforts. This initiative conducted a benchmarking study in 10 member countries, including Sierra Leone, to identify gaps and needs. Recognizing the strong government institutions, political will, and finalized digital economy strategy of Sierra Leone, Smart Africa and UNF/DIAL jointly supported the government in co-creating solutions to address the identified needs. A peer learning workshop during the Transform Africa Summit provided an opportunity to validate and learn from the case study of Sierra Leone. Invited country representatives and stakeholders engaged in closed sessions to share insights and exchange knowledge on the government’s role in unlocking the digital economy.
Smart Africa and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) have signed an agreement to collaborate and develop a Single Digital Market for Africa under the AfCFTA. This collaboration aims to strengthen information, communication, and technology in Africa to facilitate digital trade and transformation. The agreement was signed by H.E Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat and Lacina Koné, DG/CEO of Smart Africa during the Transform Africa Summit 2023 in Zimbabwe.
The $1.5 million African Development Fund project aims to enhance digital trade and e-commerce ecosystems across 10 African countries by streamlining policies, implementing capacity-building programs, and developing gender-sensitive e-learning training. The proposed project is an institutional Support for Digital Payments and e-Commerce Policies for Cross-border Trade (IDECT). It will be financed with an ADF-15 Regional Public Good grant and the Executing Agency is the Smart Africa Secretariat.
The latest members of the Smart Africa Alliance
Irembo is a technology company that helps organizations deliver online services and create world-class customer experiences. The company deeply understands the local needs and the community’s capabilities to access services.
Ascend Digital Solutions
Ascend Digital Solutions is a trusted partner to African public institutions in enabling the real potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
ASMOS Consulting is a business consulting company that offers advisory, systems, data, chain management, and training services.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Transform Africa Summit report!
But our coverage doesn’t end here. We invite you to stay tuned for the second part of our report, where we delve even deeper into the transformative potential of African tech solutions. In the upcoming segment, we’ll bring you exclusive interviews with industry leaders, expert analysis of emerging trends, and captivating stories of tech-driven change happening across the continent.