JOHANNESBURG - South African minister of economic development, trade and industry Ebrahim Patel on Wednesday punted the adoption of digitization as a strategy to address the challenges of geography, connect economies and industrialize Africa.
Speaking at the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) dialogue in Côte d’Ivoire, Patel said that digitization provides opportunities for industrialization, job creation, entrepreneurship, economic development and tax collection to fund social programmes.
"Data is to the 21st century what oil and steel was to the 20th century. Africa must become more than a consumer market for digital services produced elsewhere. We must become innovators and producers too, exporting services and building capabilities," he said.
Patel was co-chairing a session of the AGOA with the United States deputy trade representative, Ambassador CJ Mahoney.
But Patel admitted that the process of digitization was uneven as many countries, including those in Africa, lag behind and contribute to a digital divide.