[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]
The moderator Ms Reine Essobmadje (Founder Evolving Consulting, Co-Founder Digital Coalition, France & Cameroon) gave a synopsis of the session discussion, then welcomed participants and panellists.
Mr Jean Philibert Nsengimana (Minister of Youth and ICT Rwanda, WSIS Chair) opened with an overview of the Smart Africa initiative, binding twenty African countries to accelerate digital transformation and economic growth, for job creation among the member countries’ populace.
Mr Robert Pepper (Head of Global Connectivity Policy and Planning Internet.org, Facebook) was next with his presentation titled ‘Inclusive Internet Index: Focus on Africa.’ He elaborated that Facebook and Internet.org had a mission to give people the power to share and make the world, and to deliver Internet access to the 60% of the world yet to be connected. Pepper then gave an in-depth view of the global state of Internet connectivity and inclusiveness. Africa, he said, has the lowest percentage of households connected to the Internet compared to other continents. Furthermore, he noted that the uptake of local content was beginning to gain momentum, especially in non-English speaking countries.
He noted that Nigeria was faring well, and was ranked twelfth globally on the Inclusive Internet Index.
Mr Victor Muo (ACCA, ACA, President IE Africa Club, Spain) gave highlights of the six-day IE Africa conference starting on 25 May in Madrid. He stated that this year’s edition whose title was ‘Digital Africa: Transforming the continent’, purposely aimed to change the image of the African Continent from that of poverty, disease and ignorance, to that of success in digital transformation. Muo said that there are 527 million mobile phone users in Africa, 300 million of whom are Internet subscribers. He also mentioned that in 2015, $150 billion was contributed by the mobile sector to Africa’s total GDP, which amounted to 6.7%.
Muo gave the illustration that 3.8 million jobs were created in the mobile sector. He was categorical in saying that Kenya was leading in the area of Fintech, and gave the case of M-Pesa, a Kenyan mobile money platform that is live in ten countries. M-Pesa, he said, has provided financial inclusion to the unbanked, and also helped them access Microfinacing. He summed up his presentation by insisting that the way forward for African countries is to implement a national digital policy strategy, that would aid achieve SDGs 1, 3, 5, 10, 16, and 17.
Dr Salma Abbasi (Chairperson, CEO, e Worldwide Group, UK and Nigeria) spoke about e Worldwide, an organisation whose goal is to assist governments and development agencies in their endeavours to socially uplift marginalised communities for the SDGs agenda 2030. She envisions that the Smart Africa project has the potential to be a game changer in creating an enabling environment for digital economies on the continent.
by Bonface Witaba