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The US-Africa summit: investing in digital as a lever for development

Last February, African leaders signed the Digital Protocol for the African Continental Free Trade Area (Zlecaf), to facilitate the digital economy on the continent and support the majority of the population, that is, those under 25 years of age. Accelerating the installation of digital infrastructure and the acquisition of technologies was at the heart of the US-Africa Economic Summit held from May 6 to 9 in Dallas.

From our correspondent in Texas,

Africa is the world’s leading continent in terms of mobile digital currency. But can we do better? At the US-Africa economic summit, the heads of state and government present wanted to prove to American investors that it was possible.

One example, Botswana, which has decided to fully enter this digital revolution. The country has set aside 818 million dollars this year alone for digitization and broadband access. ” We are committed to ensuring that our 500 villages are all connected to free high-speed internet, to enable inclusion and opportunity, especially for young people and women. But more than anything else, we made the choice to constantly innovate “, explained Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi.

Develop public-private partnership

We talk about tablets in schools, promotion of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, AI, incubation centers, start-ups, local crowdfunding… But to develop access to technologies, political will is not enough, we also need a public and private partnership.

But at this stage, a different question arises for each country: Should we democratize access to technologies or create new technologies that will benefit as many people as possible?

Kazeem Oladepo heads operations at IHS Nigeria, which uses optical fiber. “ When we talk about AI, when we talk about coding, technology is a source of efficiency. But technology is developing very quickly, he emphasizes. Unfortunately, the populations you are trying to help are the populations left behind because the speed of technology exceeds the speed at which they can access it. So you’re wondering what to prioritize: access to technology or the technology itself as a development tool? »

also readAt the US-Africa summit in Dallas, the challenge of access to energy

“You have to take risks”

Regardless of the choice, according to the US Trade and Development Agency, USTDA, which favors projects that allow the export of US products or services, it is necessary to take risks, try things, improve infrastructure, generalize broadband and facilitate trade.

You have to take risksargues Enoh Ebong, director of the USTDA. For example, we support a pan-African company located in Mauritius. It plans to join the submarine cables that connect the continents, the backbone of the Internet, with a robust fiber optic connection between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, we are looking to see how we can increase connectivity tenfold by relying on this new infrastructure. “This fiber optic project would allow other countries to benefit because the cables would cross DRC, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.



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