Digital economy and sustainable development
The following themes and concepts echoed through discussions:
Sustainability is key for the future digital developments in Africa. While the entry point to new technologies becomes lower, sustainable success is more difficult to achieve. Sustainability is also a bridge between the 2013 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the WSIS process. Given the high relevance of ICTs in achieving the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), an idea to have an African ‘supreme council’ was suggested. This council should ensure that there is a bridge between sustainable development and the digital field.
‘If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it’ was another important message mentioned by a few speakers. Africa needs more data and evidence on digital developments and on the impact of ICTs on development.
Investment cannot take off in a significant way without creating reliable policy and legal frameworks. While the opportunities are enormous, many investors are reluctant to move faster due to a lack of policy certainty. Thus, development of policy and governance frameworks is one of the key priorities for the African Union and national governments.
Finally, many speakers indicated that ICTs can be used to improve governance and inclusive policy-making. ICTs can increase transparency and inclusion, and can be used to deal with corruption, one of the challenges facing Africa.