Meeting with Smart Africa
Greetings from Dubai, where GITEX is one of the biggest technological events, it is the most widely recognized and annually anticipated information and communications technology (ICT) trade event across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.
GITEX future stars is a global platform for attracting world-class startups, innovators, government, private sector and investors.
During my visit this year, I have noticed a very interesting session for Mr. Lacina Koné, the Director General of Smart Africa and I was wondering what is Smart Africa and is it a real organization working toward the digitization of Africa.
Before going into details, I am listing herewith some interesting facts about Africa:
- Total trade from Africa to the rest of the world averaged US$760 billion in current prices in the period 2015–2017, compared with $481 billion from Oceania, $4,109 billion from Europe, $5,140 billion from America and $6,801 billion from Asia.
- The share of exports from Africa to the rest of the world ranged from 80% to 90% in 2000 –2017. The only other region with a higher export dependence on the rest of the world is Oceania.
- 66% of the world chocolate is coming from Africa, while the Cocoa Price per kilo is around 2.2 USD.
- There is a single tribe in Africa produces most of the world’s fastest long-distance runners (Viva Eliud Kipchoge)
- The second largest continent with 14% of the world’s total population. 44% of the population are under 15 . The home to a young and fast-growing consumer market comparable to china and india.
- Africa is very rich in minerals. 95% of the world’s diamonds are coming from Africa, More than 50% of the world’s gold is coming from Africa.
Listed fascinating facts enough to show the opportunities we have as a great nation and continent.
Back to my meeting in Gitex, Smart Africa is a bold and innovative commitment from African Heads of State and government 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.
Launched in 2013 by seven (7) African Heads of State, The Smart Africa Alliance has since grown to include 30 African countries that represent 700+ million people. The Alliance has dozens of Private Sector and Academia members including 7 Platinum Members (Inmarsat, Ericsson, Econet/Liquid Telekom, Huawei, CIB Egypt, MTN, Tata Communications Transformation Services), 7 Gold Members (Microsoft, Orange, Facebook, Intel, Global Voice Group, Intelsat and Rohde & Schwarz) as well as other private sector members and Academia including Carnegie Mellon University Africa. Its founding members include the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Telecommunications Union (ATU), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the GSM Association (GSMA) and ICANN. Important to say that Smart Africa as organization is located in Rwanda (Singapore of Africa) and chaired by H.E Paul KAGAME (president of Rwanda). (www.smartafrica.org)
During GITEX future Stars, I was lucky to meet Mr. Lacina Koné, the Director General of Smart Africa. a great leader with entrepreneur mindset and with more than 25 years of experience in 3 different continents.
During our meeting we discussed different topics around Africa including:
- Partnerships: we discussed the UAE experience in building a win-win relation for better development and how this can inspire Smart Africa to build the right Eco-system to connect Government, Technological industry and entrepreneurs.
- Building Capabilities: It was a great question, what do we need in Africa? do we need resources, Vision, Leadership, skills?
How we can ensure the sustainability for our resources and how the right skills and capabilities will be the key success factor to drive the African development.
- Engagement: How we can engage effectively with academia, industry, citizens for better future.
I left the meeting with a great confidence that the right people are on the right place. I am positive that our future is really promising and Africa is a great contributor that can accelerate economic growth, prosperity and well-being.