Due to the current pandemic, COVID- 19, Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have called on African countries to invest more in digital infrastructures.
This was said at the virtual conference organised and hosted by UN ECA, themed: “How to unlock Africas Digital Potential amid COVID-19.
The experts at the conference said: “This crisis has heightened the need for African countries to increase their investments in ICT ainfrastructure, policies and solutions and to accelerate their efforts in tapping into the new possibilities unlocked by digitalization”.
Jean-Paul Adam, director of climate change, Natural Resource Management and Technology at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) told participants at a webinar that while COVID-19 has disrupted our normal way of doing things, it has also brought some opportunities.
He said that African countries should address all vulnerabilities that are hampering digital transformation such as the high cost of internet and issues related to inadequate bandwidth.
Hossam Elgamal the Chairman African ICT Alliance who also spoke at the webinar stressed the need to put policies that would govern digital transformation, and help ensure that the full potential of digital technologies is realized by governments, private sector and other stakeholders while mitigating the associated risks and addressing the challenges of data security.
Lacina Kone, CEO Smart Africa Alliance reminded the participants that Africa is being digitally transformed. Technologies like mobile-phone-enabled solutions are expanding access to financial services to many people who are now transacting money in digital form without the need of a bank account, he said.
Kone also stressed how young people on the continent are now innovating and utilising technologies in ways that could have a positive impact on their lives.
In this regards, Chepkemoi Magdaine, a youngster from Kenya, founder of EldoHub, a tech innovation and entrepreneurship centre, confirmed that there are indeed many opportunities for the youth skilled in ICT.
Majority of the participants however agreed that the unprecedented change brought about by digital technology offers significant opportunities for Africa as well as complex challenges that require new policy responses in many areas.
ECA, through rigorous analytical and policy research, has been scaling up assistance to member states in their efforts to adopt evidence-based ICT, science, technology and innovation policies to transform their economies.