While Africa may not have large innovation hubs like Silicon Valley, Innovation is critical for economic development, and African public institutions need to play a greater role. Internet and the smart phone novelty has diffused power from states to networks and citizens.
Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the republic of Kenya during the Africa Outreach Meeting at the G7 summit in Italy stated that Africa’s transformation is contingent on innovation. That’s why we have strengthened connectivity through the Smart Africa initiative,putting ICT at the center of our development agenda. That’s why the continent is developing an ICT policy and infrastructure to support one seamless digital market, to serve a billion people.
According to President Uhuru’s speech, energy and innovation, combined with a strong ICT backbone, with infrastructure,and with an open regulatory and policy environment, has unleashed creative solutions, transforming lives. For instance, M-Farmis, a mobile platform for farmers: with the touch of a button, they can find prevailing prices for their produce. Ushahidi (Swahili for testimony), a ground-breaking interactive mapping tool, now used across the world to crowd-source information in elections and emergencies.
And then, of course, there is M-pesa, the mobile money platform that has brought financial access to millions who were left out of the traditional banking sector: these days, nine in every ten Kenyans access financial services through it. These innovations, and others, have made Kenya more dynamic and resilient; they have made Kenya more investor-friendly; and they have made Kenya the hub of East and Central Africa.
During the summit President Uhuru also cited Africa is the world’s new frontier for trade and investment. Current indications are that Africa will have business opportunities worth $5.6 trillion by 2025.
“Across Africa,there is a rising tide bringing with it new national and transnational infrastructure; a better-educated labour force; a youthful, dynamic population; a diffusion of technology; and, most important, the true democratization of the continent. A rising tide lifts every boat. We now see the emergence of business clusters that stimulate innovation,the creation of new businesses, and real growth. That’s why our returns on investment are some of the highest in the world,and that’s why members of the G7 will find, as others have found, that African markets are well worth their interest.”
– President Uhuru Kenyatta
He further added in his Speech that, We are a democracy in a tough neighborhood our success will enlarge liberty;it will push back extremists bent on destroying democracy; and it will give many millions of our people an even larger stake in a stable global order. Naturally, that success will depend largely on our own efforts, but the partnership and solidarity of the G-7 countries remain invaluable.