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President Ruto’s Keynote at Connected Africa Summit Sparks Big Ambitions

Kenya’s President Ruto today inaugurated the Connected Africa Summit 2024 at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi. The summit, which is set to be a pivotal event for the continent’s digital economic landscape, focuses on leveraging the potential of the African youth and technology to propel Africa towards a digitally enabled future.

Youth at the Heart of Africa’s Digital Transformation

During his opening speech, President Ruto emphasised the crucial role of the African youth in the continent’s digital journey. He portrayed them as the primary architects and beneficiaries of digital advancements, praising their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. These young talents are making significant strides in various sectors such as fintech, agri-tech, renewable energy, and digital services, which are critical for the continent’s growth and sustainability.

“Their brilliant minds are actively contributing to the growth of the global technology sector, marking out Africa as an indispensable hub of technological innovation,” President Ruto noted. He underscored the importance of technology as a fundamental aspect of daily life, essential not only for economic development but also as a vital tool for addressing contemporary challenges.

President Ruto’s Keynote at Connected Africa Summit Sparks Big Ambitions

Tackling the Digital Divide

Despite the optimism, President Ruto highlighted the existing challenges in achieving full digital integration. With an internet penetration rate of just 36 percent among a population of 1.4 billion, Africa lags behind in connectivity. The president expressed concern over the current pace of development which is insufficient to meet the growing needs and the future of work. He cited a stark contrast in fixed broadband penetration, which stands at about 5 percent, considerably low compared to other global regions.

To address these issues, the summit aims to lay a sustainable foundation for connectivity that will empower the continent to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Economic Growth Through Digital Integration

Under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there is a targeted aim to expand the collective GDP from $1.7 trillion to $2.5 trillion by 2030. President Ruto stated that this ambition must be supported by strong commitments to bridge the significant digital divide that undermines the continent’s growth prospects. “This ambition must be complemented by a strong commitment to bridge the huge digital divide which undermines our continent’s growth prospects,” he emphasised.

The President laid out a vision for closing the digital divide, which includes enhancing connectivity, expanding the ICT sector’s contribution to Africa’s GDP, and driving overall GDP growth. These efforts are expected to increase access to broadband services, enhance service quality, and make them more affordable, thus intensifying job creation and reducing poverty.

Connected Africa Summit Theme and Objectives

The Connected Africa Summit 2024, held under the theme “Shaping the Future of a Connected Africa: Unlocking Growth Beyond Connectivity,” serves as a high-level international forum for key African policy and decision-makers. The event builds on the achievements of the past 14 years of the Connected Summit, which has convened top global ICT thought leaders and policymakers. The aim is to foster innovative ideas and partnerships that leverage technology to address regional challenges and opportunities.

As the week-long summit unfolds, stakeholders from across the continent and beyond will delve into discussions that are expected to shape the future of Africa’s digital economy, ensuring that the continent not only catches up with the rest of the world but also secures a position at the forefront of technological innovation.

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