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African Countries, Unite! SADC Ministers Call for Tech Collaboration for Continent's Growth

© Photo X / @orangeafricaDeputy CTIO Gadri Rami of the Orange Africa & Middle East at the Africa Tech Festival in November, 2023.
Deputy CTIO Gadri Rami of the Orange Africa & Middle East at the Africa Tech Festival in November, 2023.
  - Sputnik Africa, 1920, 14.11.2023
Africa Tech Festival kicked off on Monday in Cape Town. It's the continent’s largest and most influential tech event and the home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech. It began with the Ministerial Forum 2023, where an interesting trend has emerged.
Calls for collaboration and exchange of experiences were heard from the ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the Africa Tech Festival that began on Monday.
The theme of joining forces ran through the speeches of the ministers of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Tatenda Mavetera said that African countries should share technologies and have technology hubs.

"If Botswana has some certain devices, they bring us those and we try to assemble in Zimbabwe, that collaboration is also important. [...] I also feel that there is need for us to look at technology hubs. I saw it in Rwanda recently, there is a technology hub where they have collaboration with all countries. Any country can come in to collaborate. I think this is also important for us to have these technology hubs where we can learn from each other," Mavetera quoted as saying by the Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald.

She also stressed that African countries should realize that they're not in competition and should learn from each other.

"[...] Let’s get together. We all know we are not in competition and we all need to learn from each other," she said.

Tanzania Information Communication Technology Minister Moses Nape supported his colleague, saying that collaboration would move the continent significantly forward.

"In Tanzania, we are neighbors of about nine countries, let’s share and see how we can work together, face the challenges together, share experiences together and even bring resources together. Those little resources we have, if we can bring them together we can achieve a lot. It is important," he stated.

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Two other ministers addressed problems caused by the lack of collaboration, as well as the influence of former colonialists.
Thus, Botswana Communication, Knowledge and Technology Minister Thulagano Segokgo said that some goals were never achieved because SADC, as an organization, was unable to put in place the necessary mechanisms.

"When we set these goals we must set our ways to achieve them. [...] So, there is a great disappointment as a region that we are not there to support our key goals. This is very key because as a region we need to connect, build infrastructure that connects us collectively and build this one digital market. It is very key," Segokgo said.

South Africa Department of Communication and Digital Technologies Deputy Minister Philly Mapulane blamed the former colonialists for promoting the spirit of individualism in Africa.

"One of the things that I feel we need to defeat and disrupt is the colonialist development pattern both in the SADC region and continent. [...] We need to share knowledge and even resources that the SADC region has," Mapulane argued.

SADC is a regional economic community established in 1980 with 16 member states. Its goal is to "to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development" so that the community could become a "competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy," as stated in the official SADC website.
In 2020, the UN Economic Commission for Africa wrote that using digital technologies and innovation to transform African societies and economies is critical not only to promoting African integration, but also to achieving inclusive economic growth, stimulating job creation, bridging the widening digital gap and eradicating poverty to ensure the benefits of the digital revolution for socio-economic development.