Connected Africa Summit 2024: Driving Africa’s digital agenda

The ICT event will take place from April 22-25 at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi

In Summary

• ICT sector is plagued by  limited access to affordable and reliable Internet connectivity

• Summit will review this and limited digital infrastructure, skilled ICT professionals

ICT and Digital Economy CS Eliud Owalo speaking during a media briefing at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi ahead of the Connected Africa Summit 2024
ICT and Digital Economy CS Eliud Owalo speaking during a media briefing at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi ahead of the Connected Africa Summit 2024

Ahead of the Connected Africa Summit, which takes place Monday to Thursday next week, Information CS Eliud Owalo discussed what is at stake in the continental event.

The Star: Please give us some background on the Connected Africa Summit?

Owalo: The Connected Africa Summit is an annual event that brings together stakeholders from across the continent to discuss and address challenges and opportunities in Africa's ICT sector.

The summit serves as a platform for policymakers, industry leaders, academics, innovators and other stakeholders to collaborate, share insights and develop strategies for advancing Africa's digital transformation.

Since its inception in 2009, the summit has grown in stature, attracting increasing participation from key players in the ICT ecosystem.

 Who is expected to participate in the summit this year?

We expect the Connected Africa 2024 Summit to be the biggest one yet with more than 5,000 attendees. Invitations have been sent to 21 Presidents, seven Special Envoys, eight Ministers, one Deputy Minister, two Principal Secretaries and 18 Ambassadors from 21 countries across the globe.

In addition, we have partners like Safaricom, Huawei, Team Europe, Cisco, AWS and Amazon taking part.

What are the objectives of the Connected Africa Summit, and how will it enhance Africa’s digital transformation?

The main objectives are to foster collaboration and partnerships among stakeholders, promote access to technology, improve digital infrastructure and leverage ICT for socioeconomic development across Africa.

By bringing together diverse stakeholders, the summit aims to identify innovative solutions to key challenges on the continent and drive positive change. Ultimately, the summit seeks to contribute to Africa's progress by promoting knowledge-sharing, capacity building and investment in ICT infrastructure and innovation.

What are the main problems in Africa's tech sector that the summit will address, and how will it tackle them?

Some of the main problems in Africa's tech sector that the summit will address include limited access to affordable and reliable Internet connectivity, inadequate digital infrastructure, a shortage of skilled ICT professionals and regulatory barriers to innovation and investment.

The summit will tackle these challenges by fostering collaboration among stakeholders to develop innovative solutions, policy frameworks and investment strategies to address these issues.

Kenya has established itself as a leader in digital innovation and infrastructure development in Africa. Hosting such a prestigious event cements Kenya’s digital leadership status
Eliud Owalo

What does Kenya stand to gain from hosting the summit and how does it fit with the country's own digital transformation agenda?

Firstly, Kenya has established itself as a leader in digital innovation and infrastructure development in Africa. Hosting such a prestigious event cements Kenya’s digital leadership status.

Secondly, the summit is expected to boost Kenya's tourism and hospitality industry by attracting a large number of delegates. This influx of visitors is anticipated to have a positive impact on the local economy as attendees explore Kenya's attractions and contribute to the hospitality sector.

Third, Kenya will leverage the summit to showcase investment opportunities in the ICT sector, aiming to attract potential investors and tech entrepreneurs. By engaging with delegates, Kenya seeks to highlight its potential for ICT investment and promote economic growth in the sector.

Additionally, the summit aligns with the country's own Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (Beta), Kenya Vision 2030, the Digital Economy Strategy of Kenya and the Kenya National Digital Masterplan 2022-32 of promoting technology-driven economic growth, improving digital literacy and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

How will Kenya attract investment during and after the summit?

Kenya can attract investment during and after the summit by showcasing its potential as a favourable destination for ICT investment. This may involve highlighting the country's robust digital infrastructure, skilled workforce, supportive regulatory environment and vibrant tech ecosystem.

Additionally, Kenya can use the summit as an opportunity to promote specific investment opportunities in areas such as telecommunications, e-commerce, fintech and digital services. 

What is the place of new technologies such as AI and blockchain in solving Africa's challenges?

The summit will explore how new technologies like AI and blockchain can be leveraged to address a range of socioeconomic challenges in Africa.

For example, AI can be used to improve healthcare outcomes through predictive analytics and disease diagnosis, while blockchain technology can enhance transparency and accountability in sectors such as finance and governance.

By showcasing innovative applications of these technologies, the summit aims to inspire collaboration and investment in solutions that have the potential to drive positive change across the continent.

Overall, the summit will emphasise the importance of a human-centric approach to technology, recognising that technological advancements should ultimately serve the needs and aspirations of individuals and communities, while also addressing broader societal challenges and opportunities.

The summit is being held at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi. Any special reasons behind this choice of venue?

Uhuru Gardens is a historic and iconic venue located in the heart of Nairobi, making it easily accessible to participants from across the city and abroad as it is close to the airport, key hotels and the Nairobi National Park.

Additionally, the venue offers ample space and facilities to accommodate the large number of attendees expected at the summit, including exhibition areas, conference halls and outdoor spaces for networking and social events.

How will the summit make sure that everyone benefits from digital progress?

The summit will prioritise inclusive approaches to digital progress to ensure that everyone benefits, especially those who are often left behind. This may involve initiatives to expand broadband access, promote digital literacy and skills development, and facilitate access to affordable and relevant digital services for marginalised communities.

Additionally, the summit may emphasise the importance of addressing digital inequalities and empowering underserved populations to fully participate in the digital economy.

What outcomes will ensure that Africa’s digital agenda is met after the summit?

We want to foster continental and global partnerships towards the achievement of the SDGs and Africa Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy. It is my hope that the momentum and commitments generated during the summit will continue to drive Africa's digital progress forward.

This may involve follow-up initiatives, partnerships and investment commitments aimed at implementing the ideas and strategies discussed at the summit. Additionally, we expect the summit will inspire ongoing collaboration and knowledge-sharing among stakeholders to address the continent's evolving digital challenges and opportunities.

Eliud Owalo is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy

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