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Technology Summit Opens in Rwanda


The Connect Africa Leaders' summit kicked off in the Rwandan capital Kigali Monday. The conference focuses on investment and development in Africa's burgeoning telecommunications industry. For VOA, Noel King has more in this report from Kigali.

Ten African heads of state and representatives of technology giants including Microsoft, Intel and Ericsson attended Monday's opening ceremony.

The summit intends to promote foreign investment in Africa, in order to bridge the so-called "digital divide," and place the continent on par with developed nations.

African leaders pledged to slash dependence on foreign aid and charity, and focus on ending poverty through investment in telecommunications.

Calling for an "economic revolution," Rwandan president and summit host Paul Kagame said Africa's future depends upon technological advancement.

"We in Africa are more than ever before challenged to foster growth and development using our national and continental resources," he said. "Investment and trade must drive the transformation of our economies. Africa remains the world's least connected continent, which means that we are forgoing enormous social and economic benefits that accrue from ICT, a proven and powerful engine for growth and development."

Investors encouraged African leaders to commit to transparent government policies on trade and investment in order to attract foreign investors.

The summit allowed Rwanda to display recent strides that the small Central African nation has taken in infrastructure and telecommunications.

Conference participants lodged at Rwanda's first five-star hotel, where many marveled over the high-speed wireless Internet.

Delegates told VOA that Rwanda had been chosen to host the summit because its progressive economic policies, which encourage foreign investment and entrepreneurial endeavors, make the developing nation attractive to investors.

The two-day summit was organized by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union, the African Union and the World Bank.

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