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Ruto says technology key to efficiency, accountability in government

Sci & Tech
 President William Ruto held a meeting with UAE leaders during World Governments Summit 2024 in Dubai. [PCS]

President William Ruto has asked world governments to embrace technological change to promote efficiency and accountability.

The Head of State urged countries not to allow the fear of the unknown to deprive young people of opportunities associated with technology.

"If we sacrifice the benefits of progress hoping for security, we risk losing both," he said.

Ruto said nations must not hesitate to mobilise collective action and anchor it through a multilateral agency concerned with how humanity will flourish on a thriving planet in the future.

By doing this, President Ruto noted that countries can contribute resources and knowledge to improve their collective chances of winning now and in the future.

"All it takes is investment, which calls for a measure of boldness and intentionality, like that which channeled investments that turned the deserts of the Middle East into flourishing, futuristic centres like Dubai," he said.

The Head of State made the remarks on Tuesday at the World Governments Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

He, however, said innovations elicit resistance and attempts to suppress or adapt them to the status quo.

"The fear of the unknown can be a real and huge drawback to progress. However, if Governments are to remain relevant, agile and responsive, they must of necessity move, facilitate, encourage and champion change," he said.

Citing the experience of innovation in Kenya, President Ruto called for vigilance against adverse implications, anti-social applications and other threats that can arise due to unregulated or reckless experimentation with unsafe, scientifically untenable or theoretically unsound technologies.

He emphasised that this must never be a ground to stand in the way of solutions to humanity's pressing needs.

"Our proudest innovation, which has come to define Kenya in the digital technology space, is mobile money, which first emerged in our country as M-Pesa," he said.

The President noted that when Safaricom launched the service 17 years ago, the country's banking sector was up in arms, arguing that the telecommunication company had set out to do banking business without either obtaining a licence, or undergoing the rigours of regulation.

"For its part, the public eagerly embraced the liberating efficiency of mobile phone-based cash transfer," he said.

Ruto said many businesses quickly saw the benefits of cashless transactions, and persuaded banks to enable them do their banking over the phone.

"After rigorous debate, Kenya opted to face the future with courage, and M-Pesa became the legendary driver of trade and commerce that it has become, moving $1.2 billion (Sh192 billion) every day, serving more than 5 million enterprises and 61 million customers across 8 countries," he said.

The President also enumerated how mobile money phone-based digital technologies enabled Kenya to register 5 million farmers last year and facilitated timely last-mile delivery of appropriate inputs.

"The Financial Inclusion Fund, or the Hustler Fund, in Kenya is also liberating millions from predatory lenders through a digital lending and savings platform powered by our telcos in collaboration with a commercial bank," he said.

"Affordable credit is now a normal part of everyday business in our MSME sector. As we speak, the Hustler Fund serves 18.2 million customers monthly and has disbursed $280 million (Sh44 billion)," he added.

President Ruto praised Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and his government for the unwavering dedication to progress through innovation, and availability to engage in and facilitate robust conversations about humanity in the future.

"You will agree with me that Dubai is a good place to contemplate the world of the future. In this place, we have seen that courage, imagination and science are the values we need to confront a challenging future with confidence, and are far more precious than silver and gold," he said.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, among other Heads of State, addressed the summit on Monday.

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