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Africa’s digital transformation is threatened

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By Mercy Kelani

AIGF identified cybercrime as a stumbling block to technological development.

Cybercrime as a huge threat to the digital transformation strategy in Africa has been identified by the Africa Internet Governance Forum (AIGF). This was disclosed at the twelfth African Internet Governance Forum, which was held in Abuja, as one of the recommendations. There was an urgent call for all political leaders to promote the funding in cyber security. AIFG stated that Cybercrime remained a strong threat to the execution of African Union’s (AU) digital transformation strategy and its 2063 agenda.

African government and African Union were urged to ensure that enough funding to tackle this criminal activity and promote enforcement actors, capacity building for lawmakers, and the judiciary and international cooperation are provided. It was highlighted in the Forum that the digital workforce strategy in Africa is reactive and immediate investment is needed to develop the digital workforce and bridge digital divide which is required for innovation. Some of the participants emphasized that penetration should be grown from African datasets into Artificial Intelligence (AI) digital solutions.

Provision of digital infrastructure for young innovators.

Hon. Samuel George, the Secretary-General (AIGF) and a member of the Ghanaian Parliament, stressed that there should be collaborative efforts of all African States to build Africa together, and build free access to internet that would be secure, safe and inclusive for everyone in Africa. He added that provision of digital infrastructure for young innovators, and an enabling environment will make Africa a self-sufficient continent. Hence, it will aid the promotion of local and indigenous content development in digital transformation.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said that provisions of Digital Public Infrastructure, institutional changes and enabling laws will enhance Africa’s digital transformation. He added that professionals and intellectuals in information and communication technologies (ICT), and political leaders across the continent were brought together by the 12th edition of the event, that was organized by NCC and hosted by Nigeria. AFIGF participants approved the recommendations at the twelfth African Internet Governance Forum, with the theme: Transforming Africa’s Digital Landscape: Empowering Inclusion, Security and Innovation.

IGF stakeholders should focus on capacity-building programs.

Furthermore, the essential roles played by stakeholders, partners, the Nigerian Communications Commission, the Africa IGF Secretariat, the Federal Ministry of communication, Innovation and Digital Economy, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the African Union Commission were commended for the achievement of the 2023 Forum. This was also attached to the achievement of the AFIGF tagged “A New Era begins”. Report from the Forum showed that there were 1,417 physical attendees, 17 members of parliament across the continent, who participated actively and 1,683 virtual participants.

According to AFIGF, since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a massive growth in terms of internet penetration in Africa. Nevertheless, policy interoperability is to be ensured by African states, the African Union (AU), and Regional Organizations to digitize Africa and promote digital cooperation. More so, an essential role is being played by APNIG to implement digital frameworks. This enhanced the requirements for transparency and accountability of the legislation. Also, Africa and IGF stakeholders were implored to focus on capacity-building programs and high-quality digital literacy to aid intergenerational knowledge exchange.

Strong foundational IDs should also be developed.

Additionally, African governments were urged to establish legislative frameworks that will enhance inclusivity as a data priority and ethical AI principles. Allocation of resources was also demanded from governments to support the development of AI capabilities and research in Africa. Furthermore, adoption of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System, which is a financial market infrastructure that enables payment transactions, should be advocated by delegates with African governments to promote the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA). Strong foundational IDs should also be developed for the growth of Digital Economy landscape.

Related Link

IGF Africa: Website

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