February 17, 2019

‘Africa Needs Smart Government, Not E-Government’


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The African agency campaigning for the total wiring of the continent says 30 countries are taking too long to come on board.

The Smart Africa initiative came to life in 2013 at the leaders’ Transform Africa Summit in Kigali. It would culminate into a ‘smart alliance’ and permanent Secretariat that was charged with driving an ambitious tech agenda for the continent.

Governments vowed to turn Africa from being a passive consumer to becoming a producer of communications technology, by increasing the number of local innovation hubs. They also committed to put the private sector at the forefront of their tech efforts.

Most importantly, the Smart Africa Manifesto was soon after endorsed by all governments of the African Union, extending its reach beyond the seven original signatories to all 53 African countries – minus Morocco at the time.

But 5 years down the road, only 24 nations out of the 54 have signed onto the agenda and are implementing what has been planned.

Ivorian national Lacina Koné named last week following the AU Summit in Ethiopia as new executive director of the Smart Africa Secretariat based in Kigali, says every nation must join the journey.

“…other remaining states have to join us if we are to achieve the whole Africa wired,” he said at a reception on Friday evening February 16.

He added that coming together is the only viable way for the continent to build a sustainable digital economy.

Rwanda and six others were the first to join the smart alliance immediately. Since then, Rwanda is already operating a partial online government via the ‘IREMBO’ platform where many government documents can be obtained without having to roam around offices looking for signatures from bureaucrats.

Koné said that technology taken up by the continent has to go beyond if it is to have the desired impact.

“E-governance is not enough for Africa, Africa needs to achieve smart governance,” Koné said.

“E-governance is when the country’s social life and governance depends on electronic systems whereas smart governance is when let’s say the government can’t ask a citizen any document yet it is the government responsibility to produce those documents.”

He added: “Any document that it is provided by the government is not supposed to be asked from a citizen. It can’t let’s say ask for a birth certicate, ID, criminal records to mention but a few from any citizen. That’s the smart governance that Africa needs.”

The Smart Africa Team at the event sending-off Dr. Hamadoun Touré and welcoming the new executive director Lacina Koné

Minister for ICT and Innovation Ingabire Paula was guest of honor at the reception which was also sending off former executive director Dr. Hamadoun Touré from Mali.

“I would like to welcome and assure you Mr Koné, Africans mostly the member states of smart Africa are expecting much from you. I would like also to thank the outgoing executive director for the smart Africa achievements under your leadership,” Ingabire said.

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