ITU regional director for Africa Andrew Rugege made the call here when speaking at the ongoing Mobile 360 Africa conference, organized by GSMA—a trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide.
Rugege said despite positive projections for the continent illustrated by the GSMA in its latest Mobile Economy Report, Africa would always lag some markets and must instead focus on addressing its specific issues rather than competing with global technology leaders.
“It’s not a question of a race, we will always be behind the United States and a lot of countries, but where are we in terms of using technology to resolve Africa’s glaring problems? I think Africa is in a good place,” he added.
“This is not because we have made a lot of progress in infrastructure deployment or in apps development, but we are in a good place because we have a youth population that has woken up to be innovators.”
He noted Africa had the opportunity to create the next generation of digital innovators, but an investor-friendly environment was also needed.
“Our governments need to step up to the plate,” he added. “Invite investors to come to Africa, if you have good policies and regulators in place investors will come.”
When it came to working with external organisations, he urged more African executives to be involved in international forums.
“Decisions about digital transformation in Africa are being made without Africans sitting at the table,” Rugege said. revealing: “There are several of these discussions taking place, but you go there and there and you find a single African.”
He however said that ICTs are impacting every area of development in the continent.