PM Abiy Says Ethiopia’s ICT, Digital Transformation Journey Marked by Key Progress Milestones

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Addis Ababa November 29/2022/ENA/Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopia’s ICT and digital transformation journey has been marked by key progress milestones aligned with the five sub themes of 17th Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

The Premier made the remark today in his opening speech at the 17th Internet Governance Forum (IGF)  being held in Addis Ababa.

Connecting all people and safeguarding human rights, avoiding internet fragmentation, governing data and protecting privacy, enabling safety, security and accountability as well as addressing advanced technologies, including AI are the five themes of the Forum.

Abiy indicated in his speech that Ethiopia’s ICT and digital transformation journey has been marked by key progress milestones aligned with the five sub themes of the Forum.  

He stated that the internet’s contribution to social development is immense citing  democratization of knowledge and communication, access to skills and new employment opportunities, health-care access and education as a few noteworthy ones. Hence, in the past four years internet has brought challenges and opportunities, he added.

According to him, the internet has supported the speed of disinformation as Ethiopia dealt with an armed rebellion in the northern part of the country. On the other hand, while the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it offered the country an opportunity to conduct some government activities and businesses online, allowing for creativity and the emergence of innovations, he noted.

“As a developing country, we recognize that our aspirations and international journey to realizing a prosperous Ethiopia, a conducive and inclusive for all is intimately tied to advancement in technology.”

The internet thus provides a means to securing our ambitious targets as laid out in national ten year perspective plan, he said.

“Our economy is the third largest in sub Saharan Africa. We remain steadfast in our commitment to achieving food sovereignty, increasing industrialization, boosting tourism, maximizing gains from our sector, and promoting a green and climate conscious culture. All of this are being supported through mainstreaming ICT of which the internet is key.”

Considering our large and growing population, improving connectivity and expanding accessibility has been a priority with investment being made in infrastructure expansion opening up telecom sector to private investors and building government data infrastructure, Prime Minister Abiy said.

According to him, internet coverage shows an increase from 19 million users in 2017 to 30 million in 2022.  

He further said that 4G and 5G network has been rolling out in populated towns throughout major cities of the country, accelerating connectivity; adding over 2,300 high schools throughout the country have internet access.

“Four years ago, we adopt a national digital strategy which lays out a unified vision for Ethiopia’s progress to an inclusive digital economy. The strategy focuses on developing infrastructure enabling systems, digital platforms and building the digital ecosystem.”

In efforts to enabling safety, security, and accountability, the governance has taken various measures to strengthen national cyber security institutions besides protecting the cyberspace of the country, these institutions are working on raising citizen awareness on related matters,  Abiy said.

The Ethiopian government recognizes the benefit of artificial intelligence and has committed to use the new technology for national development intervals.

“We have established an institution dedicated to AI-related research and development activities in the country. We also established an AI institute dedicated to work on Ethiopia’s national interest and competitiveness through the development of AI services, products and solutions.”

According to him, the institute is currently working in various sectors including health education, agriculture, transport, as well as on public protection and safety.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Ethiopia are hosting the five day Forum that attracted more than 2,500 participants from across the world including representatives of governments, international organizations, private sectors as well as academician.