New SmartAfrica Manifesto to transform Africa

Transform Africa Heads of State Summit 2013, Kigali RwandaRwanda, Kigali was  the venue of   Transform Africa 2013. The summit was Co-hosted by President Paul Kagame and Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), with the aim of pooling together International participants to set a new agenda for Africa to leapfrog development challenges through the use and uptake of Broadband and related services.

Presidents Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (Mali), Salva Kiir Mayardit (South Sudan), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda said Africa should leverage the ICT to spur a pro-poor, sustainable growth.The meeting was also attended by executives from Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook and IBM.

Six years ago in 2007, Rwanda took the lead and mobilized the whole continent and the world around through ‘Connect Africa Summit’ and that agenda has spread across the globe where there is now a Connect Asia, Connect Americas among others.

The summit which is a follow-up of the 2007 ‘Connect Africa Summit’ focused on increasing and improving content affordability in a bid to move Africa from a content generating continent rather than one that just consumes, entrepreneurship and local capacity were also deliberated upon. Good governance has also been identified as part of the catalysts of development.  ICTs as the latest focus platform were classified as an enabler and not a standalone system.

The four-day high level event was held under the theme, “The Future Delivered Today” will devise ways on how Africa can leverage broadband to transform communities, governments and the private sector.  It is organized by Rwanda a country that is passionate in its quest for change and is leading Africa in ICT and not only formulating but executing developmental strategic blue prints.

The Smart Africa Manifesto sets the vision for Transforming Africa with the power of ICTs and embodies commitments to achieve such vision. It is an outcome of the Transform Africa ICT summit 2013, and ITU Connect Africa 2007 summit. The two summits were held in Kigali, Rwanda.

According to organizers, SmartAfrica manifesto is a bold and innovative commitment to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development on the continent and usher Africa into the knowledge economy through affordable access to Broadband and usage of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT).

The new manifesto is built on five principles: To put ICT at the centre of our national socio-economic development agenda, To improve access to ICT especially Broadband, To improve accountability, efficiency and openness through ICT, To put the Private Sector First, To leverage ICT to promote sustainable development

Ms. Sophia Bekele, speaking at the “Infrastructure” session, gave update on the journey of DCA’s current project .africa Domain, saying ” Our organization   has been very much a part of the International conference that was first launched as ConnectAfrica 2007, when we introduced this very important Pan African initiative, to provide Africa an online digital identity.  This is evident from the list of projects still hanging as part of the ITU commitment on the ConnectAfrica website.…. search “dotafrica”:  At the time we committed 100k USD and 6 years later, we have raised over 1million US dollars and campaigned all over Africa to create awareness and the benefit to all African peoples and organization. We have since been credited by the African people and the African and International Media for our excellent work, over & over again”.

Speaking at the formulation of the Smart Africa manifesto,Sophia said

“It is a very topical issue that will be much more relevant in near future will be, what is Africa’s articulated position on Global Internet Governance and Policy vs-a-vis the present divergence of opinion that has become rather evident; whether continuing with the status quo driven by US-based institutions or facilitating a change to the UN/ITU led model as proposed by some countries?”

The new agenda will work along an implementation framework the will see the formation of The Smart Africa Alliance, Support implementation of the SMART Africa Initiative, Monitor and Evaluate the implementation of the Smart Africa Initiative, and Promote the SMART Africa agenda. It also highlights the need for capacity-building as a base for transformation.

The ‘Smart Africa Manifesto’ was endorsed by the roundtable of African Ministers. Heads of State and Governments present at the summit, committed to support the socio-economic transformation of Africa through smart implementation and application of Information and Communication Technologies.

Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) commended the manifesto and said that it is time to go and transform Africa with a single vision of ICT development. TransformAfrica2013.

“This manifesto is our roadmap to transforming our continent into one of hope, for current and future generations, and pledges to put information and communication technologies at the very centre of social and economic development of every single African country” he said.

Rwanda’s Minister for Youth & ICT, Philbert Nsengimana called for the implementation of the manifesto and ensuring the success of the SmartAfrica agenda. “Let’s make the dream of ‘SmartAfrica’ become true. SmartAfrica will become a reality very soon.” He said.