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Sixteen African countries set up council to tackle AI, cybersecurity risks

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Sixteen African states have agreed to establish Africa Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence Council that will support their efforts in tackling the risks associated with the technologies.

In a joint declaration signed by technology and digital economy ministers from the countries, the council is expected to help the enhance the continent’s capacity and capability to address emerging risks of accelerated digitalization.

“This council will serve as an advisory entity, driving policies that align with our shared values and developmental goals,” said Nthati Moorosi Lesotho Minister of Information, Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation at the close of the inaugural Connected Summit Africa 2024 which ended Thursday.

The harnessing of AI technology has been identified as a key in helping Africa accelerate growth through application in various sectors, among others health, manufacturing, education and transport.

The ethical use of AI has been at the centre of discussions worldwide as the technology development and adoption gains track in various markets.

Speaking at the event, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said there is need for the continent to build capacity in the continent in order to maximize the benefits of such innovations and the digital economy.

“Our continent is not just designed and destined to be an endless consumer of digital innovations. Africa must make digital innovations a lifestyle. Our people especially the youth are potent resource that we are investing in for our continent to be an equal player in the global digital and innovation space including in artificial intelligence,” said Gachagua.

The countries which include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Angola, Sierra Leon, Namibia, Lesotho, Ghana, Sahrawi and Zambia also have also agreed to collaborate in order to increase internet access rates across Africa by 20pc within the next five years and train one million young people in digital skills by 2027 through the capacity-building mechanism.

Additionally, the countries plan to work jointly in mobilizing funding to address digital infrastructure gaps to drive inclusive economic growth of at least 5% annually within the next decade.

“We have taken into context the milestones we have realized and what we need to sustain them moving forward. We have determined the gaps and what we need to close those gaps. And moving forward, we have clearly articulated our critical technology success factors should be which have formed the thematic areas of key result areas for African in the technological space,” said Eliud Owalo, Information, Communications and Digital Economy.

To meet the funding gap which is estimated at $100 billion by 2030 according to the International Telecommunications Union, the countries have also agreed to established a taskforce to to identify and secureg funding mechanisms for infrastructure development, exploring public-private partnerships, and fostering innovation in financing models.

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