African countries need to reposition technology as a driver of economic growth, says Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto.
Dr. Ruo says technology is a prime enabler of sustainable competitiveness, with the power to elevate African countries to middle-income level.
He made the remarks while addressing stakeholders at the Africa Now 2019 Summit at Munyonyo, , during the Africa Now Summit 2019, under the theme “Towards a secure, integrated and growing Africa”
Dr Ruto noted that countries can embrace modern technology by investing in education and training, beginning by aligning the needs of the private sector “vis-a-vis what our youth are taught”.
“A suitably reoriented technology should impart leadership, digital and soft skills in every young person going through the education system,” he said.
Having appreciated the power of technology in furthering growth, Dr Ruto said Kenya was scaling up training and support for innovation by financing and facilitating market access for young people to create, collaborate, test and improve concepts.
“This is how vibrant tech hubs arise, survive and drive structural change,” he noted.
At the same time, Dr Ruto urged African leaders to refine their education to focus on science, technology and innovation.
He said the move would help align training with market needs and to the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
He told the conference that Kenya was already implementing the “most ambitious programme on human capital development, focused on technical and vocational training”.
“This has seen an increase in the number of technical and vocational training institutions by close to 300 in the last four years,” said the Deputy President.
He added that for the first time since independence, the number of students enrolling in technical institutions in Kenya exceeded those joining universities.
But for these dreams to be made true in Africa, Ruto called on African countries to accommodate the new maturity in political contestation in the continent.
He further noted that leaders need to uphold the rule of law, expression and assembly both online and in public spaces.
“Transparency is no longer an empty aspiration externally demanded, but is informing movements led by Kenya and others, for a true ethic of openness and civic participation in governance. We can forge a stable, peaceful, prosperous future for our youth without fear,” he said.
President Museveni said despite the continent being dotted by many think-tanks, most of them are after pushing the interests of the West “and they do not think about Africa”.
He noted that for Africa to be transformed, focus should be put on qualitatives rather than quantitatives.
“Our creativity is being erased and wiped out by cheap, sub-standard colonial imports. We must therefore integrate to further the Africa Rising agenda,” he said.
He challenged African leaders to work towards making the continent stable, observing that Africa cannot talk about transformation when some of the countries still face insecurity.
“Africa can be the engine of the world’s development if we strike out the bottlenecks that hinder free movement of factors of production,” he added.