Transforming Africa: Smart Africa’s Vision for a Single Digital Market

During MWC 2024, Akim Benamara and Lacina Kone, CEO of Smart Africa, delved into Africa’s imperative to establish its own digital platform and the need for digital sovereignty on the continet.

During MWC 2024, Akim Benamara and Lacina Kone, CEO of Smart Africa, engaged in a thought-provoking conversation about the necessity for Africa to develop its digital platform. Lacina’s vision emphasized the critical need for an African digital platform rooted in a robust digital ID system. He highlighted the absence of such platforms, stressing the importance of digital sovereignty and the risks of continued reliance on foreign-owned platforms.

Lacina underscored the importance of political will and collaboration in achieving this vision, drawing parallels with the harmonization efforts seen in the United States. Smart Africa’s mandate to transform the continent into a single digital market is driven by the imperative for a continental KYC (Know Your Customer) system, ensuring interoperability across African countries.

KYC is the foundation of any platform. Once we have a digital ID system which is the KYC, all the African applications and platforms can roll out on it.

Lacina Kone, CEO of Smart Africa

Central to this transformation is upskilling the African workforce, particularly in emerging technologies like AI. Lacina emphasized the need for reskilling and upskilling initiatives, such as the Smart Africa Digital Academy, to equip Africans with the necessary skills for the digital economy.

There’s a statistic: by 2050, 40% of the world workforce would be in Africa. We talked about the educated Africans, that’s where the skills, reskilling, upskilling comes into play. We will never reach that point if we don’t go and rescale ourselves on the emerging technology.

Lacina Kone, CEO of Smart Africa

Regarding AI, Lacina cautioned against viewing it solely as a revolution, stressing the importance of understanding its role as a tool for efficiency rather than a panacea. He advocated for a balanced approach to AI adoption, focusing on sectors where it can drive meaningful impact while mitigating potential risks.

AI is a co-pilot, but that co-pilot has over 50 bachelor degrees in your pocket. Just think about the transformative potential it holds, not only in revolutionizing industries but also in augmenting human capabilities and driving efficiency across various sectors. It’s not just about embracing AI; it’s about understanding its profound impact and harnessing it responsibly to propel Africa towards a digitally empowered future.

Lacina Kone, CEO of Smart Africa

In alignment with Smart Africa’s vision, Lacina emphasized the twin transition towards digital and green economies. He highlighted the potential for digital transformation to reduce carbon emissions and the role of renewable energy in powering the digital infrastructure.

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