President Ruto pushes for digital investment in Africa at BRI Forum

President William Ruto.[Standard,file]

 President William Ruto has called for more digital cooperation and investment in Africa at the 3rd Belt and Road High-Level Forum in Beijing, China.

 Speaking on Wednesday, President Ruto said there was need for investments in the digital economy for the future of transformation.

 “I stand before you to make a strong call that this Forum resolve to commit greater investment to Africa’s infrastructure development generally and in particular to intensify investments in the growth of the digital economy throughout the continent,” he said.

 He added that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) community must accept that the future of transformation is digital, and agree to build on the sound foundation of infrastructural connectivity to plug into this brave new world.

 President Ruto noted that the broad shift to digital platforms by producers and consumers across sectors and at each node of every value chain, as well as the embrace of automation and digitisation by governments, is arguably the single most catalytic development in global digital transformation.

 He also said that Africa was emerging as the last frontier of global industrial transformation, with tremendous endowments for millions of youthful, skilled and educated people, abundant natural resource wealth including plentiful minerals and expansive tracts of arable land, as well as colossal green energy potential.

 “Africa can become the world’s clean, green, cheap global manufacturing hub if the right volume of investment is directed to our continent within a very short time,” he said.

 He argued that although BRI has enhanced infrastructure connectivity within the continent, there is still much that can be done to bring Africa to the level of interconnectedness where transformation is guaranteed.

 “There is a very strong case, therefore, for the private sector to invest in African road, port, rail, energy and bandwidth infrastructure in order to connect 1.2 billion people to the world,” he said.

 He said Kenya was the landing site for six undersea fibre-optic cables, advantageously located as a multinational, continental and regional logistical, humanitarian, commercial, trade and investment destination.

 He said Kenya remains open for trade and investment and is committed to becoming a globally competitive player in the digital economy.

 “This aspiration naturally implies numerous opportunities for smart investors and proactive development partners,” he said.

 He went on: “As I have broadly indicated, the investment opportunities to develop the infrastructure required for African economic take-off, especially its rapid transition into digital economic competitiveness are vast and highly attractive.”

 Earlier, China’s President Xi Jinping announced eight major steps China will take to support high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

 The major eight steps include road connection network, participation in inter-transportation cooperation forum, supporting world open economy and creation of pilot zones for e-commerce with more countries.

 Others were the removal of restrictions on foreign manufacture, high standard cross-border e-commerce cooperation, integration of ports, shipping and trading services as well as expansion of digital reforms.

 "My country will promote green development energy and transportation besides implementing training opportunities for partner countries," said President Jinping during his opening remarks.

 President Jinping vowed more financing support for BRI projects based on market and business operations.

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an 'immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.