African ICT Ministers, policymakers and stakeholders have been urged to institute policy reforms within Africa’s ICT sector. This is with a view toward the harmonization of better ICT policies for Africa’s digital economy.

To enable the harmonization of these policies, Kenya is hosting the Connected Africa Summit from the 21st to the 24th of April this year. The Summit will act as a platform where African leaders can position the African tech agenda in readiness for the UN Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024. Leaders will also determine their role in green technology and governance of generative AI for African realities.

Key stakeholders are expected to attend the Summit to be held in Nairobi, Kenya. Africa Union Chairperson, HE Moussa Faki Mahamat, World Bank President, Ajay Banga, AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, 6 Africa nation ministers and 15 ambassadors have confirmed attendance.

According to Kenya’s ICT Authority, while African innovators continue to roll out new products and services, they are unable to scale and secure capital to grow beyond set niche markets. This has been viewed as a factor that has seen many innovators sell off their innovations.

According Eliud Owalo, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Digital Economy, outdated policies are limiting investment in Africa’s ICT sector. The Cabinet Secretary has highlighted policies such as the 30% local shareholding rule for foreign companies to invest in Kenya’s ICT sector as a hindrance to foreign direct investment.

“In Kenya, for example, we have managed to waive the 30% local content requirements that necessitated that ICT companies must have 30% local ownership. What is the purpose of having a law that impedes foreign direct capital investment? That is the direction that we need to go as Africa, making sure that there is foreign direct capital investment while at the same time also protecting our own local interests as Africa,” said the CS.

Also speaking ahead of the Summit, Kenya ICT Authority CEO Stanley Kamanguya noted, “The most important thing that we need to do is to set up policies that support and ring-fence our innovators, because what has been happening is that most of our innovators start good solutions, and then they sell them for a dime to foreign investors. Why? Because that person does not have the required resources for them to move from startup to growth. So they find it easier to negotiate with a foreign investor, and they sell out their innovation.”