ADDIS ABABA, June 10 (Xinhua) -- The UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) on Monday called on African countries to embrace technological advancements to enhance competitiveness under the imminent African free trade agreement.
"It is crucial for African organizations and governments to understand the dynamic and significant role that information and communication technologies play in enhancing competitiveness, especially in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation," said Oliver Chinganya, Director of ECA's African Center for Statistics.
Chinganya made the remarks during the Innovation Africa Digital (IAD) Summit which is underway in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.
The ECA official said "technology and innovation have been the backbone of African economic success over the last two decades but internet and internet-related penetration remained limited."
"This relatively low level of the ICT maturity is limiting the government's plans in many economic sectors, including its ability to deliver on the planned digitalization of the public administration services like censuses, health and education," said Chinganya.
According to Chingany, many African countries face a number of challenges regarding national ICT maturity, including limited information technology infrastructure, inconsistent electricity delivery, great disparities in accessing internet and mobile services, lack of appropriate legislation and excessive data costs.
"In an era marked by intense competition, globalization, and increased importance of knowledge as an economic driver, it is important for organizations and governments to understand the dynamic and significant role that ICT play in enhancing competitiveness in the context of AfCFTA implementation," the ECA director stressed.
"There is a need for governments to establish and implement strategies and policies taking into consideration the effects of economic, social and technology factors on ICT maturity as well as relationship between ICT maturity and global competitiveness, " he added.
He said the African continent is suffering from low mobile broadband connectivity, in which less than 30 percent of Africans have access to mobile broadband connectivity, as compared with 79 percent of Americans.
The ECA official also called on African countries to enhance global competitiveness, encourage stronger adoption of the latest technologies, as well as to develop digital industrial capabilities including innovative capacity of their companies
The two-day Innovation Africa Digital Summit, which kicked off on Monday at the ECA headquarters in Addis Ababa, revolves on accelerating the ICT sector across the African continent under the theme "National Agenda Acceleration."
The high-level continental summit mainly envisaged to uplift Africa's innovation, ICT service and client retention status, it was noted.