Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan have presented the Smart Africa initiative during ITU Telecoms World, hosted in Doha, Qatar. The project aims to provide affordable Internet to African citizens and create jobs related to ICT.
In order to achieve it, ministers emphasised the work that must be done at the infrastructure level and highlighted the importance of private and public partnerships to achieve these goals.
“Smart Africa is just an initiative; there have been many initiatives that have not been implemented- they are only on paper. Now, we actually talk about ‘smart’ and with the ITU we have started to transform Africa”, said John Nasasira, minister of Information and Communications Technology in Uganda to CommsMEA, during an interview.
“We must strike a balance between revenue and the access of our people,” he said.
The panellists explained that successful Public Private Sector Partnerships (PPPs) now rely on more than just finance; the public sector must provide a clear role for private partners to take in the implementation of ICT projects.
Rwanda’s minister for ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, said to CommsMEA: “Africa missed the economic revolution and the industrial revolution, but it will not miss the knowledge revolution.”
The minister said that countries are witnessing a real transformation of sectors through the use of ICTs. “It is therefore our goal to empower users, enrich people’s lifestyles and livelihoods, and boost the economy as a whole,” said Nasasira.
The founding partners of the Smart Africa initiative include Burkina Faso, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Tchad and Uganda, as well asGSMA, AU Commission, NEPAD Agency, UNECA, AfDB, the World Bank and the ITU.
Each country is developing specific projects to achieve a global goal. For example, Uganda is in charge of the “Data for Development” project’ which aims to provide and maintain big data about Africa, as Nasasira explained to CommsMEA, during an interview .