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Billed as the leading tech conference focused on connecting businesses and driving investments within Africa’s tech ecosystem AfricaCom 2023, “the largest tech conference” was in Cape Town to highlight the necessary leapfrog into the digital economy era.
Looking at some of the keynote addresses we noted how there were solid strategies penciled from Huawei Sub-Saharan Africa President Leo Chen who alongside Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Mondli Gungubele said Africa’s first and crucial step was to accelerate the development of connectivity infrastructure.
This was due to more people seeking access in order to stay connected.
“This process will generate far more data than it does today. So, we need a more secure, reliable, and developed network to act as the foundation for digitalization.”
The required infrastructure needed to be more advanced, future-proof, inclusive, and more accessible, and achieving this would mean ensuring that Africa had the same leading cutting-edge connectivity technology as the rest of the world.
Necessary shift into the future
The infrastructure needed to support future application scenarios such as smart solutions in vertical industries and smart homes, Chen added.
“Huawei’s cost-effective wireless RuralStar solution can provide remote areas with broadband coverage, access to the internet, and digital services. This bridges the digital gap and enables inclusive development.”
Cloud may be a drop in the ocean
There needed to be a conscious embrace of the full capabilities of cloud as one of the next facets of digitalization for African countries.
“It is important that African countries establish national cloud data centres to provide computing resources to governments, public and SMEs,” as this “will drive the innovation ecosystem.”
Chen reiterated that establishing eGovernment Clouds could improve operational efficiency while providing citizens with a one-stop shop in terms of innovative services.
It’s adopting these digital technological advances that was necessary and people were crucial in driving all intended innovations both Gungubele and Chen noted.
Government points to the problem
Department of Communications Minister Mondli Gungubele in his address welcomed all visionaries, business leaders, tech luminaries investors, and policymakers to a conference that spearheaded Africa’s digital transformation.
“For 26 years, Cape Town has become more than a venue; it is a nexus where ideas are forged, partnerships are kindled, and the blueprint for Africa’s digital future is continually refined by those at the forefront of innovation and progress,” said Gungubele.
Noting that the country was faced with challenges such as individuals with limited resources to connectivity, and poor digital literacy preventing them from fully engaging with the online world, there was the reality that a large proportion of the African population was excluded from the digital economy due to physical infrastructure barriers or the limited availability of suitable and affordable digital application services.
“However, a notable disparity emerges when considering internet access from home, where only about 10% of the population has access to internet connectivity, be it through fiber or fixed wireless access.
“This discrepancy indicates that while mobile connectivity is relatively prevalent, there is ample room for improvement in providing reliable and affordable home-based internet access,” he added.
He notes that the Africa Tch Festival presented opportunities for the meeting of minds to explore innovative solutions to intensify rapid infrastructure development.
“Since last year’s edition of Africa tech festival, we have rolled out more wireless sites and fibre networks in the continent. Africa’s total inventory of operational fibre optic network reached 1,1 million kilometres by June 2022, and a further 119 thousand kilometres of fibre optic network is under construction; a further 125 thousand kilometres is planned, and another 69 thousand kilometres is proposed. This is complemented by the boom in submarine cables, with the Google Equiano boosting Africa’s capacity by 144 terabits, making it the largest of any installed submarine cables on the African continent. Huawei also supported the deployment of high-speed internet to Mount Kilimanjaro. These partnerships are great example of meaningful collaboration, affirming that Africa remains a great investment destination hub,” the minister noted.
The goal was to create a conducive environment for investment while creating a vibrant market for any business.
New and innovative strategies to propel Africa and South Africa’s digital transformation to greater heights was the mission intended to leapfrog the country into the next era of digitalization.