Collaboration and finding synergies in embracing digital technologies could propel Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) into billions of dollars, according to speakers at the Ministerial Forum 2023 in Cape Town. The forum, held ahead of the Africa Tech Festival 2023, emphasized the potential spinoffs from Africa’s digital capabilities. African Telecommunications Union Secretary-General John Omo highlighted the importance of inclusivity in shaping the future of digital infrastructure. Omo emphasized the need for joint efforts between governments, private sectors, research institutions, and international organizations to fully utilize Africa’s collective potential. He stressed the importance of ensuring that the benefits of technological advancements reach all sectors of society. He also highlighted the need for continuous evaluation and improvement to keep pace with emerging challenges and capitalize on new opportunities. Leo Chen, President for Sub-Saharan Africa at Huawei, said that a national fiber-optic backbone could increase African countries’ GDP by up to 5%. Chen cited Huawei’s involvement in building Uganda’s all-optical backbone network, which has improved government services such as e-visa processing. He also emphasized the importance of bridging the coverage gap in Africa by expanding wireless connectivity technologies like 4G and 5G. Philadelphia Mapulane, South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Communications and Digital Technologies, highlighted the transformative impact of digital infrastructure on a nation’s trajectory. He spoke about how connectivity has fueled innovation, economic growth, and empowerment in South Africa. Mapulane emphasized the potential of digital infrastructure to provide education and information to empower youth and overcome geographical barriers. The forum participants recognized the opportunity to shape Africa’s digital landscape by collaborating and aligning policies to foster innovation, drive economic development, and create an inclusive and connected Africa.
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