International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU)’s Regional Development Forum (RDF) is crucial in accelerating digital transformation and achieving sustainable development goals in Africa.
Innovation and Technology National ICT and Digital Economy Sector State Minister Huria Ali, made the above remark while addressing the fifth ITU Regional Development Forum for Africa (RDF-AFR) which is being hosted by Ethiopia from 3 to 5 October, 2023.
She mentioned that the event which is held under the theme: ‘Digital Transformation for Sustainable and Equitable Digital Future in Africa,’ brings together important stakeholders across the region to discuss and collaborate on ways to accelerate digital transformation and achieve the sustainable development goal.
Digital technologies can play a vital role in helping to overcome global challenges such as climate change and build a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
“Africa is a young and dynamic continent with a rapid growing population. We have a unique opportunity to leapfrog traditional development process and inverse digital technologies to create a better future for our people. However, number of challenges, for instance, only 43% has access to internet.”
Hence, she stressed the need to invest in infrastructure and skill development to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate on digital economy as well asmake sure that digital technologies are used in a way that is sustainable and equitable, she said.
She also indicated that priority should be given to protecting people’s privacy and security and ensure digital benefits are shared widely across the continent.
Similarly, she highlighted that Ethiopia is committed to digital transformation and has made significant progress in recent years including enacting digital transformation strategy, liberalizing telecom sector, launching digital ID system and digital payment and promoting growth of e-commerce, among others.
“Despite the efforts put, there is much to be done in the sector. Thus, we are committed to work with our partners across Africa and the world to achieve a sustainable ad equitable digital future for all,” she stressed.
Moreover, the State Minister called up on government, CSOs and other concerned bodies together to invest in infrastructure, and skill development to ensure that everyone has that access to Internet and digital technologies. Promote the development and use of innovation digital solutions to address Africa’s challenges in areas such as healthcare, education, agriculture and climate change.
ITU Director Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava mentioned that the regional development forum is one of the key forums that ITU launch in which the idea is bringing all like-minded people together to brainstorm, exchange ideas but most importantly, he underlined that this year’s forum is unique in the sense that they are engaging in matchmaking exercise.
Digital is now the center and catalyst forattainment of SDGs.Africa need to use the existing tools that ithas. Artificial intelligence, for instance, is an enabler despite the challenges. We also have big data that can contributeto data analysis of betterpublic policy decision making, he added.
He further emphasized that the need to double effort to make sure that people in the African continent to have equal access to digital transformation and to contribute to Africa’s strategic agenda by tapping into its potentials.