Quick wins and way forward after the Connected Africa Summit 2024

billed as a transformative initiative, the Connected Africa Summit 2024 was held at Uhuru Gardens between 21 and 25 April 2024, attracting delegates from around the world to explore how to invest in digital infrastructure and create jobs.

It brought together key African policymakers and decision-makers aimed at shaping the future of Africa’s digital economic landscape.

Countries were urged to increase their investment in ICT infrastructure, with Kenya announcing that some Sh15. 1,000 million have been dedicated to the sector in the current year.

The Star spoke to ICT CS Eliud Owalo to explore what precipitated from the summit and the way forward in the ICT sector for the country.

Here is the excerpt.

How involved was the Kenyan government in the summit?

The government played a pivotal role, with participation at the highest levels, indicating strong government support, as President William Ruto inaugurated it, while his deputy Rigathi Gachagua closed it. Multiple government agencies collaborated on planning and execution, ensuring alignment with broader national and regional digital transformation goals. The agencies involved included the Kenya Airports Authority, Immigration, Tourism, the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Information, Communications and Digital Economy.

What was the level of participation at the summit?

The summit featured high-level participation from international actors and attracted delegates from 49 countries. This included government ministers and diplomats such as the United States.

Ambassador and EU Ambassador, and senior officials such as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth. Several governments were represented by cabinet ministers and their senior officials. In total 16 African cabinet ministers attended.

The CEO of Smart Africa and other key stakeholders in the digital and technology sectors also participated, making it a very diverse and influential meeting.

Who were the sponsors of the summit?

The summit was predominantly sponsored by the private sector, showcasing the strong collaboration between government and business in technology. Major technology companies and several local companies contributed, highlighting their commitment to fostering a technologically advanced African continent.

What are the main organizations that participated as an exhibition? And what technological innovations were exhibited?

Key exhibitors included global technology giants and innovative startups, presenting technologies such as advanced broadband solutions, artificial intelligence applications, mobile financial platforms and renewable energy technologies. These exhibits demonstrated practical applications of advanced technologies to address everyday challenges in African contexts. Some of the global organizations that participated included Safaricom, Oracle, Dell, VISA, Hewlett Packard and Liquid. Local companies such as Moringa, Tespok and Telkom also contributed.

What benefits did Kenya as a country gain from the summit?

Kenya gained significantly from hosting the summit, including enhancing its reputation as a technology leader in Africa, attracting foreign direct investment and fostering partnerships. The summit also stimulated significant local economic activity and offered Kenyan businesses and startups invaluable exposure to international markets and networks.

What were some of the summit resolutions?

The summit resolutions focused on several strategic areas. There was agreement for countries to invest in the development of digital infrastructure, with commitments to expand it to underserved areas.

In terms of education and skills development, it was resolved to expand initiatives to improve digital literacy in all age groups. In terms of policies and regulation, the summit resolved to promote the development of harmonized policies to support digital innovation and protect user data.

In terms of economic inclusion, it was resolved to implement strategies to use digital tools for financial inclusion and promote local entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, on environmental sustainability, emphasis was placed on integrating green technologies into future digital expansions and, finally, on digital jobs for our youth, African delegates emphasized the need to grow the digital jobs ecosystem. to ensure the growing number of educated and unemployed youth. could benefit from paid income.

What were the key themes and focus areas highlighted during the Connected Africa Summit 2024?

The summit highlighted topics such as digital transformation as a tool for economic growth, the role of technology in governance and public service delivery, and the importance of creating a supportive ecosystem for startups. Emphasis was also placed on leveraging digital technologies to improve the health, education and agriculture sectors. The sharing of best practices and the use of case studies, especially in AI, were highlighted. Delegates and, in particular, government representatives expressed hope that information sharing through country benchmarking will encourage diligent use of resources by adopting neighbor use cases that have been tested and adopted.

What major partnerships and sponsorships stood out at the summit?

The Nairobi Declaration by African ICT Cabinet Ministers underlined the importance of working together to achieve internet connectivity, data sharing, investments in data and training youth for digital jobs. Indeed, this is timely as governments will open a dialogue that will result in close collaboration, in particular pooling resources for large investments, for example, cloud data centers. Major partnerships with global technology companies were announced, with the aim of bringing cutting-edge technologies and investments to Africa. Sponsorships from key tech industry players underscored a strong commitment to developing the continent’s digital landscape, with initiatives aimed at developing both infrastructure and human capital.

How did the summit address Africa’s connectivity challenges?

The theme of the summit was Shaping the Future of a Connected Africa: Unlocking Growth Beyond Connectivity. The summit addressed connectivity challenges by advocating for greater investment in telecommunications infrastructure, promoting regulatory reforms to facilitate greater market entry and greater competition, and highlighting innovative connectivity solutions tailored to rural and remote areas. For example, delegates addressed the need to increase investments in fiber cables between countries. This would greatly provide stable and available Internet connectivity to many countries at a lower cost. Delegates shared results from their countries, in particular emphasizing how reducing taxes on ICT investments expands coverage and also provides governments with a broader revenue base as more citizens introduce new IT-based investments. Internet connections available.

What were the results of the preparations made to ensure the success of the summit?

Preparations, which included comprehensive stakeholder engagements, logistical planning and security arrangements, ensured that the summit ran smoothly. These efforts facilitated effective networking, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among participants, leading to a successful summit with tangible results.

What innovative platforms and initiatives were introduced at the summit?

Several initiatives were presented. These include the DigiTruck programme, which runs a mobile classroom used to train young people in remote areas in digital skills.

DigiTruck uses solar power, laptops, smartphones, internet connectivity and a smart display for digital training. Other innovations included a number of initiatives supporting technology startups to secure funding and market access, and partnerships focused on developing smart city solutions that can be adapted across various African cities.

What is the future of the Connected Africa Summit?

The 2024 event was the first continental event since its inception in 2009. The future is bright. We hope the summit will grow to attract the participation of more technology companies, innovators, industry leaders and a wide range of delegates from across Africa and beyond. We are committed to ensuring it becomes one of the most influential technology gatherings on the continent.