AU official calls for more investments in digital tech in Africa

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Photo shows drones independently developed by EFY Intelligent Control (Tianjin) Technology Co., Ltd. based in north China’s Tianjin municipality at the third China International Import Expo in 2020. (Photo/Digital Technology Network)

The African continent needs to invest in digital infrastructure and skills development to be at the forefront of advancements in digital technologies, a senior African Union (AU) official has said.

AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid called on public and private-sector actors in Africa to embrace the latest advancements in digital technology to promote the continent’s socio-economic development.

She made the call ahead of the AU’s biennial ministerial meeting aiming at driving Africa’s digital agenda forward, which will be held later this week.

“Africa must and will be at the forefront of shaping how technologies are developed and deployed to meet the needs of the people. This will require investments in digital infrastructure, skills development, entrepreneurship, and research and development,” an AU statement issued Tuesday quoted Abou-Zeid as saying.

She said that any digital transformation strategy in Africa must start with the people and communities it aims to serve.

“Technology should augment human capabilities, not replace them,” Abou-Zeid said. “Our focus is on using technology to solve real problems that Africans face, from access to education and health services to financial inclusion.”

Digital technologies like mobile money, e-commerce, and e-learning have the potential to create new opportunities if developed with the needs of African users in mind, she said.

The draft Continental Artificial Intelligence Strategy seeks to position Africa at the forefront of harnessing artificial intelligence for socioeconomic development ethically and inclusively, Abou-Zeid said.

“By adopting a human-centric approach to AI, the strategy aims to leverage the opportunities that emerging technologies offer while mitigating potential risks and negative impacts,” she said.

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