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African Youth Ready for a Digital Future; But Leaders are Lagging Behind

If Africa’s leaders do not act quickly to move the continent into the 21st century, young people will leave them behind, South Africa’s President Cyril M. Ramaphosa said at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Young people are ready for the digital era and are engaged in technology, but governments are not keeping up. They have not “fully embraced this new bright and brave world that young people live in today,” he said.

“Africa now has this great opportunity, having lost out on previous revolutions, to leapfrog,” said Ramaphosa. The speed at which mobile phones have been adopted across the continent over the past decade highlights the willingness of Africans to adopt new technology. “It shows that we have the skills and the capabilities to do this and we should now have the courage to embrace technology in the fullest way.”

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, said that it is imperative that all African countries make investments in human capital to bring them into the 21st century. This requires a holistic programme of interventions and investment.

Kagame chairs the Smart Africa initiative, which aims to put ICT at the centre of the continent’s national socio-economic development agenda, improve access of Africans to technology and use ICT to promote sustainable development. Internet connectivity in Africa is just 22%, which shows the opportunity that technology offers the continent to move into the digital age.

Smart Africa is the result of the realization among Africans that their future is, or should be, a digital one, said Kagame. The initiative aims to get political leaders to align their efforts and policies with this goal, he said. There is already a mindset change in governments about the importance of technology as they seek to address the needs of growing numbers of young people.

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting brings together more than 3,000 global leaders from politics, government, civil society, academia, the arts and culture as well as the media.

This excerpt has been borrowed from The World Economic Forum website. Learn more here: https://www.weforum.org/