7 July 2021
ICT Minister Chairs AU STC-CICT Bureau Meeting

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has chaired the Meeting of the African Union (AU) Specialized Technical Committee on Communication and Information Communications Technology (STC-CICT) Bureau, held via videoconference.

The meeting discussed and reviewed the implementation status of the resolutions and recommendations adopted during STC-CICT Third Ordinary Session (STC-CICT-3), and of relevant initiatives and projects. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Bureau current Member States, including Burundi, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Djibouti.

During the meeting, the ICT Minister stated that the meeting comes in view of the importance of the African collective work which the Committee members have embarked on during the STC Session held in Sharm El Sheikh in October 2019, and during the extra-ordinary session of the Bureau in May 2020.

He added that in close cooperation with the AU Commission (AUC), the Committee members were able to pin down a number of major areas to speed up the digital transformation in Africa, stressing the importance of working holistically in line with Africa’s 2063 goals, and expanding and diversifying African resources by building upon the network of international cooperation availed by development partners.

Talaat said that the African Digital Transformation Strategy adopted during the last STC session, in October 2019, corresponds with the UN SG Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, which stresses on digital inclusion, universal connectivity, capacity building, cooperation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), in addition to promoting trust and security in the digital environment.

He added that the Committee can pin point success stories where individual African countries have been engaged. For instance, Egypt under the World Food Program (WFP) is creating a digital platform for Africa, targeting the goal of zero hunger.

The ICT Minister said “The plans we have for reformed and resilient Health, Education and Agricultural sectors, could be best served through the vehicle of the AI Working Group.” He invited the Committee members to make use of the growing Egyptian portfolio of solutions in those subjects, and the country’s developing center of excellence, for the formation of qualified resources.

“African countries who participate on the international front should act as a bridge to communicate African stances and tailor international expertise to continental specifications,” Talaat stated. He underlined that Egypt believes in the potential of African human competencies in ICT.

Talaat also said, “The initiative of the Egyptian African Telecom Regulatory Training Center (EG-ATRC) aims at building African human competencies capable of dealing with the emerging challenges in the sector.” “Our Egypt Post’s training center welcomes the availing of e-commerce operation readiness programs as well as Fintech,” he adde.

On the innovation and entrepreneurship front, the ICT Minister highlighted that 7000 trainees and 78 small enterprises have benefitted from the African App Launchpad (AAL) presidential initiative. He added, “Our plans for a prosperous digital Africa should rest on a clear plan for digital policies. I do hope that we will pay sufficient attention to promoting the innovative use of data, the protection of critical data and information, and fostering appropriate digital policies across the sectors of the economy which are now a pre-requisite for a successful digital transformation.”

For her part, the AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amany Abou Zeid stressed the importance of taking advantage of the challenges posed by the pandemic to advance digitization efforts in Africa and bring about the African Digital Transformation Strategy. She also underlined the significance of bridging the digital divide and providing African people with digital services in various fields, such as health and education, to ensure business continuity.

Abou Zeid pointed out the initiatives launched by the AUC to accelerate digital transformation in vital sectors and develop policies to create an enabling environment for building a single digital market for Africa in line with the African Digital Transformation Strategy the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The meeting discussed a number of topics related to the African Digital Transformation Strategy, in a number of sectors, namely health, agriculture, education, digital identity, and post, as well as creating a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating the successful implementation of the strategy.

Moreover, the meeting discussed creating an enabling environment for facilitating the establishment of a single African digital market, and the development of data economy in Africa; promoting African participation and contribution in Internet governance; carrying out projects within the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA); and implementing major projects adopted by the AUC, in areas including cybersecurity, the electronic network for education and e-health.

The meeting also dealt with the plans and efforts undertaken by the AUC to assist Member States in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in their countries.

It is worth mentioning that during STC-CICT-3, Egypt was elected Chair of STC-CICT Executive Bureau, for two years.

To read the ICT Minister’s speech during the Meeting, kindly click here.

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