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    Tuesday, April 9, 2024

    Policy Harmonization Key to Accelerating The Growth of Africa’s Digital Economy

    Eliud Owalo, CS, Information, Communications and the Digital Economy in Kenya (centre), Eng. John Tanui, PS, State Department of ICT and Digital Economy (Kenya) (second left), Prof. Edward Kisiang’ani, Principal Secretary, State Department of Broadcasting and Telecommunications (second right) (Kenya), Hon. Sylvanus Maritim, ICT Authority Board Chairman (far right) (Kenya) and & Stanley Kamanguya, CEO of ICT Authority (far left) during the unveiling of the Connected Africa Summit 2024.

    African ICT Ministers, policymakers and stakeholders have been urged to institute policy reforms within Africa’s ICT sector with a view toward the harmonization of better ICT policies for the continent’s digital economy.

    According to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, outdated policies are limiting investment in the continent’s ICT sector. The Cabinet Secretary has singled out policies such as the 30% local shareholding rule for foreign companies to invest in Kenya’s ICT sector as a hindrance to foreign direct investment.

    “In Kenya, for example, we have managed to waive the 30% local content requirements that necessitated that ICT companies must have 30% local ownership. What is the purpose of having a law that impedes foreign direct capital investment? That is the direction that we need to go as Africa, making sure that there is foreign direct capital investment while at the same time also protecting our own local interests as Africa.” said the CS.

    Eng. John Tanui, Kenya’s Principal Secretary, State Department of ICT and Digital Economy adds that: “We are also encouraging more players to come up with what we call digital platforms. These are new spaces, that we must ensure that Kenya and Africa as a continent also have digital platforms, which are local and indigenous, and be able to contribute to the Kenyan and the African economy.”

    According to Kenya’s ICT Authority, while African innovators continue to roll out new products and services, they are unable to scale and secure capital to grow beyond set niche markets a factor that has seen many innovators sell off their innovations.

    “The most important thing that we need to do is to set up policies that support and ring-fence our innovators, because what has been happening is that most of our innovators start good solutions, and then they sell them for a dime to foreign investors. Why? Because that person does not have the required resources for them to move from startup to growth. So they find it easier to negotiate with a foreign investor, and they sell out their innovation.” ICT Authority CEO Stanley Kamanguya added.

    CS Eliud Owalo, PS Eng John Tanui & CEO Stanly Kamanguya: https://we.tl/t-L1hSDB3Xmm

    Stanley Kamanguya - CEO, ICT Authority

    Africa’s digital marketplace requires good enabling policies, laws, and regulations, cutting across borders and aligned with AU’s Agenda 2063, which will attract more foreign investment while empowering the continent's innovators. To enable the harmonization of these polices Kenya is hosting the Connecter Africa Summit from the 21st to the 24th of April this year.

    “Anything and everything that we are doing as African countries must be aligned to a Africa Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063. We need to think together as Africa while aligning to the overall policy framework, which is the AU agenda 2063. Africa can be transformed when leveraging technology into a continental digital marketplace, which is boundless once we have good enabling policies, laws and regulations that facility database.” Said CS Owalo.

    The Agenda 2063 aims to put in place policies and strategies that will lead to transformative e-applications and services in Africa; especially the intra-African broadband terrestrial infrastructure.

    “Most of the global economy is now on entire digital platforms. Digital platforms are already controlling about   30% of the global economy or enabling 30% of the global economy. So, it's important for young people to be exposed to this new space, so that they can be able to familiarize themselves learn and be participants and players in that space.” PS Tanui added.

    So far, Africa Union Chairperson (AUC), His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, World Bank (WB) President, Ajay Banga and Africa Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, six Africa nation ministers and fifteen ambassadors have confirmed attendance for the Connected Africa Summit 2024 which will take place from 21st – 25th of April in Nairobi.

    The Summit will act as a platform where African leaders can position the African tech agenda in readiness for the UN Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024 and determine their role in green technology and governance of generative AI for African realities.

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