On the last day of the 23rd African Union Summit, President Kagame hosted the first board meeting of the Smart Africa Alliance. The meeting brings together nations that signed on to the Smart Africa Manifesto.
President Kagame welcomed members of the Smart Africa Alliance and reiterated the importance of information technology in achieving development:
We are here because we appreciate the importance of technology, particularly ICT, for development of our countries and our continent. The goal of today’s meeting is to guide immediate action for making Smart Africa a reality and to start placing ICT firmly at the center of Africa’s development agenda.
Signed in Kigali by seven Heads of State including Uganda, Kenya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gabon and the Republic of South Sudan and later endorsed by Heads of State and Government at the 22nd African Union Summit, the Smart Africa Manifesto serves as a framework to ensure ICT remains at the heart of the development agenda in Africa.
The board of the Smart Africa manifesto defined eight priorities including Smart Cities, Data and Measurement for development. ICT Industry Development, Africa Digital Literacy, Smart Africa Scholarship Fund, Smart Africa Green Economy, digital economy, Private Sector and Entrepreneurship to be led by Rwanda, Uganda, Gabon, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Kenya and Mali respectively.
During today’s meeting, President Kagame also pledged an initial 200 thousand dollars for the Smart Africa Scholarship Fund, which will provide funding to African students pursuing Masters and Certification level training in Africa’s best ICT Centers of Excellence.
The African Union Summit concluded with a presentation of the Peace and Security Council report as well as discussions on key issues including climate change, post 2015 sustainable development goals, African Union funding and trade. Rwanda also presented the Kigali Action Plan aimed at accelerating water and sanitation goals across Africa.
Rwanda has surpassed both the MDGs and the Africa Water Vision 2025 targets by increasing the proportion of its population with access to basic sanitation from 3% in 1990 to 78% in 2011.
The Kigali Action Plan draws on lessons from Rwanda’s community approach to water sanitation and calls on leaders to commit to direct action interventions at community level to improve hygiene and sanitation conditions, as well as the development, utilization and management of Africa’s water resources.
The plan also calls on member states to adopt the Blank Years of Water and Sanitation Events. To ensure that finances are spent on actions rather than gatherings, the resolution advocates for the African Union (AU), the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and Water and Sanitation for Africa (WSA) not to host any event of more than 20 people in the year 2015.
The Kigali Action Plan aims to raise 50 million Euros and implement its recommendations in ten countries including Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. The African Water Management Investment Guarantee Fund is set to be managed by the African Development Bank.