Ethiopia’s Digital Technology Role in Africa

Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store or/and process data. Well known examples include social media, online games, multimedia and mobile phones. As well, digital learning is any type of learning that uses technology. It can happen across all curriculum learning areas, for some technology institutes.

And the Ministry of Science and Innovation has recently disclosed that Ethiopia wants to be part of the Global Data Security initiatives proposed by China. The Global Data Security Initiatives requests all countries to put equal emphasis on development and security, and take a balanced approach to technological progress, economic development and protection of national security and public interests.

And it calls on all States to support this initiative and confirm their commitments for Global Data Security through bilateral, regional and international agreements.

Ethiopia has recognized that this initiative is in line with the National Digital Transformation Strategy of the country, which is designed to promote Digital Economy in Ethiopia. The Digital Transformation Strategy indicates, inter alia, the need for strong data protection, which is the life blood of the digital economy.

Pursuing the adoption of the National Digital Transformation Strategy, Ethiopia has drafted a Personal Data Protection proclamation (PDP). The Proclamation has passed through all the drafting stages and now ready to be approved by the Government.

The PDP, among other things, indicates the need for protecting and securing Personal Data and define the legal requirements and procedures to processes Personal Data in Ethiopia. The proclamation also declares the steps to follow on transferring Personal Data to jurisdictions out of Ethiopia.

The Global Data Security initiative clearly indicates that in the context of closer global cooperation and new development of international division of labor, maintaining supply chain security of ICT products and services has never become more important for boosting users’ confidence, ensuring data security, and promoting digital economy.

Similarly, the Ethiopian Digital Transformation Strategy recognizes using digital technologies to participate in the Global Value chains is one of the key points to ensure the digital transformation of the nation. It reaffirms that the ability to deliver products on record time and at an affordable cost, from the point of origin to final destination, has become an essential prerequisite for competitiveness.

As a result, this demonstrates that Ethiopia is committed and strongly supporting the Global Data Security initiative proposed by Chinese government.

In consistent with these, the digital technology in Ethiopia has been promising as Africa is becoming the next epicenter of digitalization as in the words of the U.S based digital technology expert, Behailu Belamo.

In an exclusive interview with the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), Behailu who has been in Addis Ababa for weeks and visited various sectors has said: “Overall, what I have seen here is pretty encouraging in terms of supporting digital economic growth across major sectors.” Manufacturing, tourism and agro-industry are critical areas that are identified by the government and among the sectors given priority.

For him, Ethiopia has made a lot of progress in this regard: “There are encouraging initiatives like the new proclamations coming up to encourage innovations in terms supporting start-ups and tax incentives which are quite encouraging.”

Even he has pointed out that the Ethiopian 2025 digital strategy displays that digitalization is the top rank for the government and it is willing to go the full distance to its implementations across the sectors.

There is a clear priority that begins from the Prime Minister as digitalization is essential for everything in the contemporary world, he noted urging: “The wider community needs to understand what digital technology really entails, what it means, how it is manifested and how it can actually transform all of these different sectors.”

Continuing his call on the young innovators in Ethiopia, Behailu said: “I would say keep pushing, I know that there are some challenges but, there seems that for the last couple of years some progresses have been made in all aspects.”

Reaffirming that the next couple of years give the impression real promise for digital technology in Ethiopia in particular and in Africa in general, the expert said “I would say keep pushing and be persistent”.

For all, especially for those who are in digital technology, Behailu said: “I would say consider investing in Ethiopia because there is a huge potential here and Africa is becoming the next epicenter of digitalization and invest in Ethiopia, be part of what is coming up.”

Regarding the necessity of collaborative works amongst the government and the private sector, Behailu imagines: “I think the government as well as the private sector will have to come up with the way to train individuals with required skill set and technologies so that we can implement these technologies across the sectors.” A strong cooperation between the government and the private sector is mandatory since digitalization requires public private partnership, almost by its definition.

The government has to keep on providing a legal framework, infrastructure and the private sectors need to take advantage of it as well; he noted adding: “Make sure that the partnerships are working well and would help the overall economic growth.”

Likewise, understanding the role of Ethiopia’s digitalization in Africa, Pakistan has recently called for the establishment of Ethio-Pakistan Scientific Diplomacy Forum through its ambassador. The forum will enable the two countries to share knowledge and experiences and to enhance collaboration in science, technology, and innovation.

In his discussion with the officials of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Ethiopia, Ambassador Shozab Abbas expressed how the two countries can collaborate in the field of science, technology and innovation including the importance of the partnership.

Furthermore, the Ambassador detailed that the establishment of the Ethio-Pakistan scientific Diplomacy Forum will be a platform of knowledge and technology transfer in the field of environmental protection and hydrology.

The discussion outlined the future collaboration between the COMSATS University in Islamabad and the Ministry of Science and Technology of Pakistan, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

State Minister for Innovation and Technology, Ahmedin Mohammed (PhD) reaffirmed Ethiopia’s support for the establishment of the forum saying: “Ethiopia is ready to share its digital initiatives and reforms in science, technology, and innovation with Pakistan.”

Therefore, since Ethiopia is working towards making digitalization the issues of nations in the world besides African countries, it is a wise decision to invest in Ethiopia’s digitalization the State Minister said indicating Ethiopia’s readiness to learn a lot from Pakistan other nations regarding digital literacy.

BY DIRRIBA TESHOME

THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD DECEMBER 17/2021

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