By King’s Office Correspondents
His Majesty the King has suggested a four-pronged approach towards bridging the digital divide on the continent.
Speaking as a first-time guest at the Transform Africa Summit, the king said citizens of the continent could start by embracing technology in their daily lives. This ought to be done using mobile phones, computers or the internet, but make a conscious effort to be empowered to use it.
“This will not only enhance our productivity but also open up new opportunities for innovation, creativity and growth,” he said.
Secondly, said His Majesty, countries should support local start-ups and businesses that are developing innovative technology solutions.
He made an example of the Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP) in Eswatini, that is providing training for business start-ups for our young entrepreneurs.
He said these businesses have the potential to transform entire industries and create job opportunities for thousands of our people.
“Thirdly, we can invest in education and skills development for the youth. This will ensure that they have the necessary skills to succeed in the digital age and contribute to Africa’s digital transformation,” he noted.
Lastly, the King told the gathering, is that nationals can advocate for policies and regulations that promote innovation and digital growth. This will create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and for Africa to become a global leader in technology.
The King emphasised that Africa’s digital transformation was not an individual effort, but a collective one. He called for all to play a part in embracing technology, supporting local businesses, investing in education, and advocating for policies that promote innovation.
Together, we can build a brighter future for Africa. He noted how we now live in an exciting time where the world is changing at an unprecedented pace.
“The rate of technological advancement is staggering, and the world is more interconnected than ever before, therefore, Africa should not be left behind. As we move forward, we must embrace innovation, connection and digital transformation if we hope to create a better future for ourselves and generations to come in our beloved continent,” he said.
He further told the gathering that Africa had to be united in her efforts of promoting the Africa we want, as espoused in the 2063 agenda.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) is another pillar that can help us to be a united force in terms of trading amongst ourselves.
“We need appropriate technology to add value to our products in order to stop exporting them raw to external markets,” he said.
He also highlighted that in today’s world, digital infrastructure and connectivity are vital to the success of businesses, government, and individuals, as they are the backbone of the digital economy, which has become increasingly important in recent years.
“In the Kingdom, we have made strides to ensure our citizens have fast and reliable internet access and mobile connectivity, and we are now working on a digital Eswatini framework, which will complement the state-of-the-art data centre and call centre that is in place,” he shared.
Therefore, he said, it was time for us to focus on technology as a vehicle that can enhance our development, thus bridging the digital divide between Africa and the West.
He urged, “We need to share technology and not compete with each other”. He also encouraged Africa to be united in pursuit of creating a single digital market for the continent.
“A united Africa can create a more stable and secure environment that encourages investment, job creation, and economic growth.” “It can also lead to increased political power and influence on the global stage,” he said.
The King informed the summit that with Eswatini hosting the African electronic trade group ae-Trade for the southern African region, it was another attempt to promote trade amongst African states. He added that technology could also be used to promote cultural exchange and understanding.
“Social media platforms enable people to share their experiences and connect with others from different parts of the continent.” “This can lead to greater understanding and appreciation of the diversity of African cultures,” he said.
He concluded with a call for the use of technology to play a significant role in unifying Africa by breaking down traditional barriers to communication, trade, e-education, e-medicine, and cultural exchange.
“By embracing technology and working together towards common goals, Africa can achieve greater economic growth, political power, and global influence,” he noted.