Digital access to unlock Africa’s potential, President Ruto says

Tuesday April 23 2024

Kenya’s President William Ruto giving a speech at a past function. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenya's President William Ruto has intensified calls to African government and business leaders to make the continent future-ready by incorporating technology.

Speaking on Monday when he presided over the opening of the Africa Connected Summit 2024 in Nairobi, Dr Ruto told delegates that Africa stands to reap big from the digital revolution if those in positions of influence made the right decisions.

“Africa’s digital infrastructure coverage, access, and quality lag behind other regions yet it does not have to be this way because the most transformative interventions are just but a few decisions away,” he stated.

“We must all be concerned by the fact that our rate of connectivity is poorer than the existing potential," he added. The five-day summit has convened ICT thought leaders as well as policymakers from across the continent to assess ideas and partnerships.

Read: UN resolution on AI co-sponsored by Kenya spells hope for Africa

In his opening address, Dr Ruto highlighted the key bottlenecks that he said, if addressed, would immensely unlock the vast economic potential that lies untapped within Africa.


He singled out Africa’s internet penetration rate which stands at 36 percent, translating to 470 million users in a continent of 1.4 billion people, which is below the global average of 66 percent.

Further, Dr Ruto pointed out that Africa is connected to the global internet through just 19 undersea cables, saying this was modest compared to other continents such as Europe and Asia.

“Fixed broadband penetration in Africa is only about five percent which leaves us far behind other regions of the globe. This has critical implications for our ambition for both connectivity and economic transformation through the digital economy,” he said, arguing that a 10 percent increase in the continent’s broadband connectivity could lead to a 1.4 percent growth in Africa’s GDP.

Other blockages that the President highlighted span low internet speeds, high data costs as well as dismal penetration of internet-ready devices.