President Paul Kagame has told a major technology summit in Kigali that Africa urgently needs connection points for convenient phone connectivity – wondering why his voice has to be heard in Europe.
Kagame said the African continent cannot go on being a consumer of tech products from elsewhere, and had to take charge of its future.
Kagame was today on the main opening panel of the 2019 Transform Africa Summit, which opened yesterday, and runs through to Friday. More than 4,000 delegates are attending. It is the 5th edition.
On the panel, Kagame was with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mali’s Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
One of the key things that have to be done quickly, Kagame said, was making it possible to call within Africa directly.
Amid laughter from the audience inside the Kigali International Conference and Convention Center, President Kagame wondered why one should go to Bamako, Mali from Kigali through Poland.
He said data within Africa, was moving the same way as air transport – whereby for travelers to go to some African countries, they go through Europe.
“Why can’t we make direct lines or at least stop by Nairobi or Addis Ababa instead of going to Europe or Dubai?,” said Kagame.
He added: “When I call the President of Kenya or President of Mali, and I want to kept them on phone, sometime I think I am talking to them directly, but I have had to take my voice to Europe to be inspected.”
Kagame said continent has to “keep upping our game” to achieve cooperation by working directly with each other.
Counterparts Kenya’s Kenyatta and Mali’s Keïta also called for increased investment to set up the require infrastructure and committed political will to achieve what Kenyatta called the “next industrial revolution”.
Kenyatta said his government was focused on that infrastructure to “ensure that within 5years, all parts of Kenya are covered.”
There was amusement in the conference hall when the moderator CNBC’s Nozipho Mbanjwa asked each of the three leaders to come up with a 10-word sentence that would serve as a take-home for the delegates and headline for the media.
First was Mali’s President who made a long statement.
Kenyatta said: “We must break down barriers for Africans to take advantage of our digital future.”
Kagame summed up amid applause: “Everything we need for transformation is in this room or represented in this room”
Meanwhile, Kagame had earlier in his speech announced that the 6th edition of Transform Africa Summit 2020 will take place in Guinea.