MWC 2022: President Kagame calls for countries to ensure effective transformative digital technologies

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His Excellency President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame says technology is catalytic force for development of African countries despite some gaps of limit access to the internet, which must be addressed through a joint productive workforce.

He made the call on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at the opening of the GSMA Mobile World Congress Africa 2022, the first in-person of its kind held on the African continent that brought together over 2,000 participants from 99 countries across the globe. 

“Digital technologies are a catalytic force for development in Africa. Yet, almost half of adults in low- and middle-income countries do not have access to the internet, even when living in areas with broadband coverage. Digital infrastructure is key, but it is not enough, to leverage the potential of connectivity, investments in digital skills and literacy must be integrated in our national policies. In Rwanda, this is possible with the support of private sector, Kigali Innovation City, in order to support a competitive and productive workforce that offers a conducive environment for start-ups,” He said.

President Kagame said that African young people have a lot to offer and that governments must play their role to keep their promise to them.

“Significant strides have been made on the continent to accelerate the digital transformation, through initiatives spearheaded by the African Union and Smart Africa, among others, however, to leave no one behind, we must create a more enabling legal and regulatory environment. However, to leave no one behind, it means a number of things and we must recognize that digital transformation is not a zero-sum game, where progress must come at the expense of the most vulnerable. Not at all,” He added.

President Kagame said that everyone, regardless of status, gender, or nationality, must benefit from digital technology transformation if the continent wants to create lasting change.

Speaking at the event, Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA, said that hosting the congress on the continent couldn’t have been timelier, given the momentum Africa has shown in the uptake of mobile technologies. 

He said that Africa stands at a unique moment in time. Over the past two decades, mobile growth across Sub-Saharan Africa has been phenomenal.

“Today, 46% of the population is connected and subscribed to mobile services, rising to 50% by 2025,” he noted, adding that in 2021, mobile technologies and services generated around 8% of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa, supporting 3.2 million jobs across the region.

“Imagine what Africa will be when everyone is connected!!! To continue the momentum and create more jobs and foster inclusion and reduce inequality, we have to ensure that everyone has access to connectivity and can benefit from all it offers,” Granryd added. 

The GSMA MWC Africa brings together industry sectors, business leaders and policymakers with the region’s mobile ecosystem to discuss the continent’s ambition to enhance the power of connectivity.

Inclusive Payments systems in Africa  

After the opening of the MWC Africa 2022, with the progress of the side events, a new report dubbed: ‘The State of Instant and Inclusive Payment Systems in Africa (SIIPS 2022)’ was released by AfricaNenda, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA) and the World Bank.

The report embarks on the key strategies to address key challenges faced by stakeholders around the commitment and the capacity to scale up instant and inclusive payment systems.

However, Instant digital payment systems are vulnerable to fraud and security risks, deterring end-user uptake according to the report.

According to the World Bank report, 2021, digital and instant transactions growth has opened space to criminals that have migrated their activities to the digital space. “Leading security concerns are data breaches, phishing, account takeovers, and social engineering,”

Why Africa need inclusivity?

“Ultimately, to increase the trust by end-users and to account for the growing digitalization across the continent, inclusivity needs to be central to system design and empowered by government leaders. There is a need to enhance consumer protection, including consumer recourse, fraud mitigation, and transparency, paramount to creating access pathways for the financially excluded,” part of the SIIPS 2022-Africa report quotes.

The SIIPS – Africa report 2022 shows that Instant Payment Systems (IPS) are growing rapidly, with 29 systems having gone live on the continent in the past decade. 

The report shows that the domestic and regional IPS capacity will increase significantly in the coming years, potential for excess infrastructure in Africa.

Robert Ochola, CEO of AfricaNenda, said that there is a need for a collaborative effort between public and private stakeholders to address the challenges identifies in the report to ensure open access to shared payment infrastructure, healthy competition and access to a range of services that meet consumers’ needs.

Norbert Nyuzahayo

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