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Young innovators key in economic development says President Mnangagwa

Story by Josephine Mugiyo, Diplomatic Correspondent

THE Transform Africa Summit kicked off in Victoria Falls this Wednesday with Heads of State and government who converged in the resort city emphasising the need for the continent to unite in pursuit of a digital revolution.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave a keynote address and was joined by his fellow African leaders in stressing the important role of ICT in developing the continent.

Africa has for years lagged on many fronts, including information and communication technology as well as industrial development.

This has been attributed to various factors, chief among them the role of colonialists who sidetracked the continent’s development while plundering its resources.

The African leaders have, however, continued to put in place initiatives to foster development driven by information communication technology and the Transform Africa Summit has become a key event where issues to do with development powered by technology and innovations are discussed.

Since its inception, the summit has been hosted by Rwanda, with Zimbabwe being the first country to host the summit outside Rwanda.

As heads of state from Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda and the Kingdom of Eswatini converged in Victoria Falls together with stakeholders in the ICT sector from various African countries, President Mnangagwa gave a keynote address where he emphasised the need for Africa to move with speed in implementing innovations and ensure it works round the clock for the digital revolution needed in economic development.

“The modernisation of our great continent urgently requires technology. We somehow looked to our colonizers to help us build. But now we must move faster, leapfrog our development and even faster,” he said.

President Mnangagwa has confidence in what young innovators can do when given the support as is the case in Zimbabwe’s education sector which has seen young innovators spearheading industrial development.

“To realise our vision of transforming ICT, then young talent must be supported to develop technology that speaks to the intricacies of our economy.”

King Mswati the Third, also addressed the guests at the summit and his message was Africa needs to share technology and not compete if the continent is to realise its full potential.

“We need to share technology and not compete. If African countries come together they can achieve more. A United African can achieve more,” he said.

Malawi was also there in full force and President Lazarus Chakwera is convinced that the only way for Africa to catch up with the rest of the world is to harness ICTs.

“We have been left behind so much, and we will not catch up if we use the same format, we need to use the shortcut of ICT,“ said President Chakwera.

President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia believes technology should lead to less bureaucracy and reduce the costs of doing business in the public sector.

“One of the things that irritates me is the bureaucracy in the public sector. It’s not just bureaucracy but about slowing down business,” he said.

After hosting the summit in his country for five years, President Kagame said there is a need to ensure that as many people are connected to the internet.

The rallying point at the summit is the need for Africa to achieve inclusive development using new technologies and innovation.

Meanwhile, the Heads of State attended the Smart Africa Board Meeting also held in Victoria Falls this Wednesday.

President Mnangagwa took advantage of the opportunity to stress the importance of protecting African countries from cybercrime, terrorism and money laundering through the use of ICT.

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