Uganda’s President Uhuru Kenyatta today said digital technologies is critical in enabling Africa to achieve its objective of promoting intra-Africa trade. He said digital technologies will accelerate communication and facilitate payments, two factors that are critical for cross-border trade.
The President called on African governments to give appropriate attention to the digital sector if the continent is to benefit from e-commerce and the digital economy.
“I consider it appropriate for Africa to begin a meaningful debate and engagement on e-Commerce and Digital Economy, focusing, as a starting point, on policy areas identified by the UNCTAD e-Trade Readiness Assessment Programme that was launched in 2016,” said the President.
The President made the statement when he opened the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Africa Regional Electronic Commerce Week at the United Nations Headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi. President Kenyatta said his Administration has been at the forefront in promoting the use of digital technology to enhance service delivery.
“This is evidenced by the substantial investment resources we have put over the years in the development of ICT infrastructure such as fibre-optic network connection between Kenya and the rest of the world, as well as the development of the national digital infrastructure that connects all counties in Kenya,” said the President.
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He said the investment in ICT infrastructure development has led to enhanced use of technology to file tax returns through the iTax platform, issuance of government documents such as passports and visas through the e-citizen platform.
The President said the Kenyan government will continue to promote technological innovations by ensuring a conducive policy environment, which balance between innovation and regulation to ensure that Kenya remains ahead in ICT.
The President said the continent can learn from Kenya’s experience in digital transformation to drive its agenda for integration, industrialization, structural transformation, and economic diversification.
He called for the removal of all barriers to digital technologies necessary to drive trade across borders. The President said Africa must seize every opportunity to secure its rightful place in the global digital transformation.
“Africa must jealously guard against being marginalized in the designing and setting up of global rules for e-Commerce,” said the President.
The Secretary General of UNCTAD Dr Mukhisa Kituyi and other senior UN officials spoke at the event. Dr Kituyi thanked President Kenyatta for his continued support for UNCTAD and other UN bodies.