African governments have been urged to take full advantage of the large population of its youths to develop the continent, using technology.
Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Nigeria, Mr. Segun Ogunsanya, gave the advice at the recent inaugural Africa summit of the London School of Economics, where he led a panel discussion with Ghana's President, John Mahama on the theme: “Disrupting the Global Technology Space.”
Ogunsanya elaborated on the continent's growing advantages in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
In his presentation, he harped on the advantages available to Africa in the global technology space as a result of its huge population of young people.
“Africa is increasingly becoming the delight of investors, especially those who put their investment in technology and ICT because of its over 200 million young people and you know what young people do? They consume technology. With technology, comes connectivity which serves the important role of an enabler on which sectors like agriculture, health, education and even entertainment thrive." "Africa and more specifically, Nigeria is gaining good speed in its quest for connectivity and by the time full convergence takes place, on that small handset you can run your life," he said.
Ogunsanya also called on lawmakers across Africa to ensure that laws and regulations are made to encourage the use of technology.
The submission was in tune with Mahama's earlier comments that “most governments in Africa now know that if they want to gain and maintain global relevance, it is up to them to shoulder the heavy task of creating an enabling environment in which African private enterprises can not only grow, but thrive."
Also present in the panel which was chaired by the Director of Future Africa Afrotech Initiative, Jonathan Ledgard, was the Executive Director and Chairman of SFDA Kenya, Evans Wandongo, who raised concerns about the fact that across Africa, connectivity outside the rural areas was not at par with what is witnessed in major cities. This led to questions from the audience regarding Airtel's recent announcement of its partnership with satellite services provider Thuraya. Under the partnership which commences this month, Thuraya Telecommunications will provide Airtel Africa’s customers with voice and broadband connectivity via Thuraya's satellite network across the continent's most remote areas.
Ogunsanya stated that Africa's current technology ecosystem would be enhanced with the increasing realisation that technology is a necessity, not an option; adding that access to the internet should be added to the list of international human rights because without access and connectivity, it will be difficult to lift Africans out of poverty.
Topics at the LSE Africa Summit covered entrepreneurship, agriculture, innovation, and finance, bringing together a community of leaders, businessmen, academics and civil leaders.
The three-day event witnessed an estimated 800 guests attending the business and research conference, with speakers including Nigeria’s former Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili, and Zenith Bank’s founder, Jim Ovia.