ICT : Kagame Warns that Technological Advancement is not a Panacea

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has told the annual Transform Africa Summit (TAS) in Kigali this week that while there is no doubt that technology is the foundation of modern and high-income economies, it is not a universal remedy. By Matshelane Mamabolo



He said this was the reason why Rwanda is investing heavily in physical infrastructure and in the skills required to use the latest technologies.

« ...even the most advanced technology cannot compensate for shortcomings in other areas which are essential for economic competitiveness, » said Kagame.
Kagame believes progress will need to be realised in areas such as regional integration and cooperation, for example through the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
« This (ACFTA) agreement will transform Africa, but only if we translate its provisions into reality on the ground. Secondly, a favourable investment climate is critical in order to build trust in African economies, attract the right partnerships, and spur innovation. Indeed, many African countries are already among the leaders in business-friendly reforms. But achieving good rankings is not an end in itself. The goal is to attract more and better investment, and that requires effectively communicating these facts to global markets, and even to our own investors right here in Africa. »
According to the African Union (AU) the CFTA aims to unite all African countries - comprising 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of over US$3.4 trillion - under a single continental market for goods and services, including free movement of businesspeople and investments, and expansion of intra-African trade.
Kagame also called for hard work to ensure that African private capital is mobilised to participate fully in major projects.
« There is this myth that we always have to look outside the continent to fund major initiatives. But this simply cannot be true when Africa is losing billions every year through lost taxes, sending private assets abroad, and other factors. We are not poor, not at all. The issue has more to do with the mindset, that it is normal to use our money for consumption, while we leave strategic, long-term investing to others. It means that no matter how much we earn, we would remain poor. »
Kagame went on to mention efforts by the AU and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), together with the private sector, to bring broadband to underserved communities by harmonising spectrum and standards which he says symbolise a comprehensive approach to technological development.
Rwanda's President currently serves as chairman of the AU and Co-Chair of the UN Broadband Commission which was setup by the ITU in partnership with UNESCO.
« What these few elements remind us is that the application of technology and innovation takes place in a wider context. We must harness all these factors together holistically to achieve the results that our people expect and deserve...our strategic investments in technology and education will only have their full impact if they are matched by efforts to ensure all sectors of our society can access the benefits. »