Towards realizing digital transformation in Africa
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Towards realizing digital transformation in Africa

Dr. Amr Talaat, Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has reiterated the significance beyond regional and inter-continental cooperation to have digital transformation realized. The statements have highlighted the Strategy of Digital Transformation of Africa, launched during the proceedings of the meeting of the African ministers of communications and information technology held in the Egyptian Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh in 2019. The strategy has been endorsed by leaders of the African countries as it includes digital infrastructure, development of skills, adopting of digital innovation and providing related vacancies.

During the high level summit that was held via the videoconference, organized by the Development Center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED)-with the participation of Angel Gurría, OCED Secretary-General-, Dr. Talaat stressed the need for a powerful ICT infrastructure to enable peoples to access basic ICT services.   

The Egyptian Minister has reviewed the strategy adopted by the MICT of Egypt to keep up-to-date with the developments of the digital transformation and their reflections on the labor market. The strategy is being enforced in accordance with a pyramidal structure aimed at providing basic technological services to citizens. He also noted that work was underway to establish Egypt’s Information Technology University. The country has also been working on putting into force the initiative of Egypt’s Digital Builders that aims to develop digital capacities with the goal of competing at the international level.     

“A number of policies have been adopted to facilitate the establishment of small to medium sized enterprises plus removing the obstacles set before the emerging companies in that department,” the minister noted. He also added that an ambitious program would be put into force to realize digital financial inclusion.   

“Egypt is among the very first countries to have ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” the ICT Minister noted. He said Egypt was ready to close ranks with all African states to set off connectivity between chains of supply from different countries and regions and to enable small and medium sized enterprises to access the labor market in the AfCFTA zone and quasi-regional markets.   

In another development, Dr. Sherif Farouk, Board Chairman of Egypt’s Postal Service, held talks with Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Dr. Farouk has reiterated that Egypt is keen to achieve trade and financial integration with African countries given the fact that Africa is the second largest economic gathering in the world. He has noted that the MICT and Egypt’s Postal Service are effectively engaging in the proceedings of a committee established in Egypt for sharing proposals on realizing trade integration and enforce the AfCFTA in the period ahead.

The Chairman of Egypt’s Postal Service has reviewed the latest developments in the field of systemizing e-commerce in Egypt, saying that Egypt is keen to provide legislative and technological prerequisites to help in the growth of e-commerce with African countries. The step would be crucial for small to micro sized enterprises, he added.   

He noted that Egypt was open to further cooperation with all countries in order to develop postal services and provide for new ones for customers of the postal service. He praised the relevant agreements saying that they would act as a promising start towards regional integration in Africa, plus contributing to trade and economic integration aspired for by the African countries.  

For his part, Amr Mahfouz, Executive Officer of Information Technology Industry Development Agency ITIDA, affiliated with Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, has said that the MCIT is keen to put into action the AfCFTA via thoroughly studying all related aspects of financial and trade integration within the agreement. “The sector of Communications and Information Technology has been among the first sectors (in relevant African ministries) to submit schedules of commitments for liberalizing communications’, expediting computer and postal services,” the official has noted. The move has aimed to incentivize countries to join the agreement and to help them meet their commitments in order to boost trade exchange among the African countries in the field of communications and information technology.  

Mahfouz has said the proposals put forward by Egypt’s MCIT aims to further joint cooperation in different areas, including the liberalization of trade in communications and information technology.

The objective has been to transfer the know-how and boost capacities whether at technical or administrative levels. The Egyptian official has reiterated that the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is keen to realize joint cooperation with African countries in a bid to settle promote electronic and electrical industries in Africa and allow for the exchange of expertise among the African peoples. He noted that the MCIT put forward a proposal so that all AfCFTA member states would enshrine in their laws the measures aimed at protecting intellectual property rights. This is to ensure taking effective measures against any violation in that department. The MCIT has also been working on establishing a regional office, affiliated with the AfCFTA, in order to register all intellectual property rights of the states signatory to the agreement.      

For his part, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, has reiterated that putting into effect the AfCFTA would provide unprecedented opportunities to promote the growth of economies in Africa and increase the amount of their contribution to the global trade. He stressed the pivotal role of the AfCFTA towards promoting connectivity among the African markets in a bid to boost agricultural and industrial sectors in the African countries and develop the economic system in the continent.  

Mene has added that technological applications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and e-commerce are ranked high on the agenda of the AfCFTA, particularly as far as the negotiations of the second phase- due to be held July this year-are concerned. “Digital services would play a major role towards facilitating measures and further communications via creating digital platforms that would in turn boost inter-trade among African countries,” he added.

The Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area has reiterated the significance of promoting cooperation and reaching common drafting of legislations that would attract foreign investments in the field of information technology in the AfCFTA member states.

Source: Al-Bawaba News