Committed to connecting the world

ICTs for a Sustainable World #ICT4SDG

Speech by ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun I. Touré 

Transform Africa Summit

 Connect to Transform :
The Smart Africa Manifesto
29 October 2013, Kigali, Rwanda


Mr. President, Honourable Heads of State
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to introduce to you today the key outcome of this Summit – “The Smart Africa Manifesto”. This Manifesto sets the vision for Transforming Africa with the power of ICTs and embodies commitments to achieve such vision.

Outcomes of ITU Connect Africa 2007 did set out a vision for Africa. We can be proud that we will have largely achieved this vision.

Now is the time for a new vision. Time to move from mobile revolution to broadband revolution.

Time to ensure that Africa is a full member of knowledge society. Time to move from Connect to Transform. Transform our businesses, jobs, lifestyles, education, healthcare, government, and cities.

Setting such vision requires a combination of two key elements.

First, learning from the best experiences and practices internationally.

In this regard, our Broadband Commission for Digital Development, co-chaired by President Kagame, has been providing strong guidance for the development of ICTs, especially broadband.

Its most recent report “The State of Broadband 2013”, which I presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon on 20th of September 2013, sets out a number of policy recommendations.

Commission has also set out ways in which broadband could and should contribute to economic, social and environmentally sustainable development.

It has also outlined ambitious targets for broadband development

These targets, lessons and guidance clearly apply to Africa.

There is also an important second element: local expertise and local leadership.

International organizations, including ITU, will support you in your developmental path.

However, don’t be mistaken. Only Africans can develop Africa. Only Africans can make sure that our native Continent seizes opportunities of ICTs. Only we can Transform Africa.

For that we need clear strategy and plan. Success likes planning. This is further demonstrated by the research conducted under the aegis of our Broadband Commission, which proves that broadband plans deliver tangible results.

In this regard Manifesto provides a basis for such plans – not just for one country, but for the entire Continent of ours.

Your presence and leadership make me very confident and optimistic that together we can set and achieve the vision of SMART Africa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

SMART Africa is a bold and innovative commitment to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development on the continent, ushering Africa into a knowledge economy through affordable access to Broadband and usage of Information and Communications Technologies.

SMART Africa’s commitment relies on the following key principles:

  • Principle 1 puts ICT at the centre of our national socio-economic development agendas.
  • We will facilitate innovation and the creation of content and applications that are context-appropriate, development-oriented and scalable to deliver social and economic benefits in Education, Healthcare, Business, Agriculture and other key sectors.
  • We will also develop the capacity of our people to utilize ICT and be fully empowered participants of the ICT-driven economy and society.
  • As per Principle 2, we will improve access to ICT, especially Broadband.
  • Private-public sector partnerships will be crucial in achieving this.
  • Investments will be supported by enabling policy environments.
  • Principle 3 calls for improved accountability, efficiency and openness through ICT. E-Government services and Open Data initiatives will play a crucial role in achieving this goal.
  • Principle 4 recognizes that economic transformation must be private sector driven. Therefore we will foster an enabling environment for private investments to drive job creation, productivity and competitiveness supported by technology and innovation.
  • We will specifically support efforts aimed at turning our continent from being largely a passive consumer, to a producer of ICTs.
  • And, finally, Principle 5 aims to leverage ICT to promote sustainable development, including promoting social inclusion (especially the youth and people with disabilities) and gender equality.
  • We will also adopt ICT to address climate change, clean energy, e-waste, urbanisation, disaster management and other risks.
  • Technology needs to become more cost effective and protected in order to ensure sustainable achievements. We will therefore embrace suitable innovations in the fields of cyber security, cloud computing, mobility, shared infrastructure and, shared services. 

I am particularly proud that the Manifesto is not just a vision. It also sets out clear measures to ensure that is implemented. This is the kind of tangible leadership that Africa needs.

Implementation of this vision will also be supported by an ICT capacity development fund. This fund will aim to develop skills of our people to be not only users, but active participants and contributors to the ICT-driven development. I invite you to contribute to this fund.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Yesterday I described three types of leaders:

  • Leaders who dream big, but are afraid of their dreams;
  • Leaders who just come back to sleep after having had a big dream;
  • Leaders who share their dreams with their people and dare implementing such dreams.

Africa of today has leaders who go for their dreams and bring their people together. These leaders are with us here today.

I am also proud to see all stakeholders – including governments, private sector, and development partners – come to set the vision and commit to achieve its implementation.

The Smart Africa Manifesto is good example of committed and visionary leadership, which is key in ensuring that ICT-driven Africa will be a place where

  1. people prosper,
  2. communities enjoy strong bonds,
  3. businesses thrive, and
  4. governments enable strong and sustainable development as well as efficiently and effectively serve their people.

I would like to invite you to endorse the Manifesto and actively work to implement it.

Thank you.