The second edition of the Transform Africa Summit has been taking place this week in the Rwandan capital of Kigali under the theme “Accelerating Digital Innovation”.
Chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame with several other heads of state in attendance, Transform Africa brought together over 2,500 participants stakeholders – including startup entrepreneurs and incubators – to share experiences and focus on accelerating Africa’s digital growth.
Rwanda’s minister of youth and ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana said the event – co-organised by the Government of Rwanda and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), with the support of the World Bank – tracked the progress of Smart Africa, an initiative established at the 2013 edition of the event.
“Transform Africa 2013 gave birth to the Smart Africa initiative that is governing ICT in Africa. This time, we want to assess progress made since the initiative was adopted, learn from our different experiences and discuss ways to accelerate the continent’s digitisation. We are gathered to shape Africa’s digital transformation agenda,” the organiser’s said
The event also focused on new ways of delivering on Smart Africa promise of raising US$300 billion in ICT investments in Africa by 2020. In the lead up to the event, Ingabire Paula, head of ICT investment at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said the country had seen more than US$150 million worth of investment in ICT projects over the last two years.
The Rwandan government has long been one of the more enlightened in Africa when it comes to promoting the growth of technology, and has played a crucial role in boosting tech innovation and allowing the country to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, according to kLab general manager Claudette Irere.
Twenty-one years after the Rwandan genocide – which claimed the lives of up to one million people in just 100 days – the country is now held up as a beacon of hope, economically at least, with technological progress at the heart of this rejuvenation.
On a macro level, Rwanda is making progress, with the country launching its first high-speed 4G/LTE network late last year. In terms of the country’s startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem, the kLab incubator in the capital Kigali is the symbol of the country’s development.
Launched in May 2012 with 20 members, it now has over 400 registered members and 30 startups using the space every day.