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President Paul Kagame has issued a rallying call to African leaders and captains of the industry attending the Transform Africa summit to move quickly and embrace the Artificial Intelligence technology, citing that the leaders should “make it work for us (Africa)”.

Addressing hundreds of participants at this year’s summit underway in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Kagame said that transforming Africa means digitizing the continent’s economies.

“Already many of the new quality jobs being created in Africa are powered by technology and connectivity. That applies even to traditional sectors like Agriculture, mining and retail” Kagame told a packed hall at Elephant Hills Resort, adding that the trend is “only going to speed up.”

At the summit, he was also joined by several Heads of State including host President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, His Majesty King Mswati III of the Kingdom of Eswatini, and Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, among other high-ranked officials.

To step up digital transformation on the continent, Kagame said that everyone has to be connected to affordable broadband and also be able to have a smart device.

Mobile broadband penetration has been spreading rapidly, but more than 60 percent of Africans who have access don’t use it. We need to also keep reducing costs, Kagame urged participants.

Equally troubling, he said, is that a big piece of the puzzle is digital skill and literacy.

“One reason many Africans are not taking full advantage of the internet is that they are not yet comfortable with the interface or sometimes the language barrier factor.”

According to President Kagame other bottlenecks include digital identity and cyber security as well as continental integration such as the African Continental Free Trade Area or the One Africa network.

“We need to make digital identities of individuals and businesses portable across borders while using technology to reduce barriers to trade.”

“All of this is within our power to achieve. We just need to move faster with a sense of urgency.”

Embracing AI is key

President Kagame also urged African leaders to open their doors and explore the potential that artificial intelligence can have in critical sectors like agriculture, health and education.

“This powerful technology has made headlines in recent weeks, for the right reasons, at most. It is still unclear how it will affect existing jobs and what safety concerns there will be, but it is also already possible seeing that Africa has the most to gain.”

This is because AI applications can narrow productivity gaps between African firms and their competitors on other continents.

“We should therefore move quickly to embrace AI and make it work for us.”

Kagame’s call comes just a few days after Rwanda adopted the national Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy, that among others aims to harness AI, digital and emerging technologies to support the country’s development goals (including sustainable and inclusive growth), become an ICT and Innovation Hub, and position Rwanda as a leader on the African and global stage.

Africa lagging behind

For Lacine Kone, Chief Executive at Smart Africa, despite digitization having a foothold in every sector in Africa, integration remains low on the continent.

This, he said, calls for a collective effort to transition and transform Africa.

According to Kone, this year’s summit, which also marks 10 years of Smart Africa Alliance existence, comes at a time when Africa needs to leapfrog emerging technologies such as AI applications.

“10 years is a major milestone. Our celebration is not a festivity but an occasion to look back and look ahead at the mountains we must still climb. From seven founding members to 36 members representing 1,1 billion people, we are still growing.”

For instance, he said, Africa, among other factors, remains the lowest in internet penetration at roughly 38 percent–less than 60 percent of the average.

“This is not the Africa we want; we need to move faster. And the 4th industrial revolution allows us to. We must redesign ourselves for the challenge and opportunity Africa faces.” - Edwin Ashimwe, The New Times


NAIROBI, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan automotive firm, Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA), said Tuesday that it will assemble 130 electric buses manufactured by Chinese automotive firm BYD in 2023.

Matt Lloyd, managing director of AVA, told Xinhua in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi that so far it has assembled 15 BYD electric buses for the local market that were imported as a collection of parts.

"The advantage of BYD is that it is one of the world's leaders in the manufacture of electric vehicles and the level of quality of the vehicles is very high," Lloyd said on the sidelines of an electric vehicle forum.

Lloyd observed that locally assembled BYD buses have high safety standards and will therefore enhance Kenya's overall road safety. He revealed that his firm has gained modern automotive technology through the technical advice it has received from BYD. - Xinhua


Satellite-based internet provided by Starlink, is about three times faster than the available products on the Rwandan market at almost the same price, which make it relatively affordable, according to the Minister of ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire.

The Minister made the remarks while responding to a question from MP Frank Habineza on whether the Starlink internet will be affordable, during the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies in which she was providing answers to issues affecting the ICT sector.

On February 6, The New Times published an article in which the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) announced that it had issued a license to Starlink, satellite internet constellation, to operate in the country, with its operations due to begin in the first quarter of 2023.

Starlink is operated by SpaceX, a spacecraft manufacturing company founded by American billionaire Elon Musk.

nformation from RSA indicates that Starlink’s services are expected to increase the level of broadband competitiveness in the country as the end-user services will cost Rwf48,000 for a bandwidth of up to 150 Mbps, while for the enterprises the bandwidth can go up to 350 Mbps.

According to Ken's Tech Tips, a UK's guide to mobile technology and broadband, since 2005, with a 150Mbps connection, you can download files fairly quickly.

For instance, it indicated, a music album will download in around five seconds and a HD-quality movie will download in about four minutes. Browsing the internet and receiving emails should be near-instantaneous on a 150Mbps connection.

Also, it indicated, with such internet connection, you can make video calls, listen to music and watch video online on multiple devices at the same time.

Referring to the information from RSA, MP Habineza said that Rwf48,000 a month for the 150 Mbps internet speed per second, would be a high cost for many Rwandans.

“You realise that, though we will get high speed internet, the prices will still be high such that it would be difficult for people to access it,” he said.

Speaking to The New Times, Habineza proposed that such a cost be lowered for the sake of internet affordability.

“I propose that the Starlink internet price should be priced a lower price than that of the available products on the market,” he told The New Times, suggesting that it should be somewhere between Rwf20,000 and Rwf30,000 per month, for it to be relatively affordable to Rwandans.

High capacity and affordability

Responding to MP Habineza’s query, Minister Ingabire said that compared to the capacity that is being provided and the available prices, “it is obvious that the capacity that is provided by Starlink is very high where it can be between two or three times faster.”

“And when you look at the cost, based on the output that is a half or a third of the capacity that Starlink provides, you realise that its cost is very low than the available products,” she pointed out.

“So, considering the services that are offered currently, we find that the Starlink price is very good, given the capacity it is providing us which is higher than the already available packages,” she indicated.

Meanwhile, she said that the internet cost might be high for one household that needs such a service; but pointed out that its capacity might, usually, not be needed by a household.

“As it is a capacity that might be needed by a health facility, a market where there are many people who can benefit from it, schools or public entities, it means that if you look at the number of people who can benefit from such economies of scale versus the cost, it is more cost-effective,” she said.

MP Francis Karemera said that the fact that Starlink will provide high speed internet through the use of satellite, “it means that it will do it effectively, and the internet would be affordable”, calling for prioritising school connection to such internet to support education.

“But, if this internet of Starlink has a footprint coverage for the entire country, and as its prices are affordable ... we would like the Minister to help us so that the connectivity starts with schools that are not connected, or those that are connected but do not have means to pay for it,” he said.

Ingabire said that “Starlink services come to fill the need and gap of [internet] connectivity.” - Emmanuel Ntirenganya, The New Times

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