The need for Africans to understand computer coding program as a set of computing rules executed by the computer was stressed at the recently concluded Mo Ibrahim Governance Week on Information Technology (IT) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
A former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, who is currently the President of African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, said: “Coding must be compulsory, at all levels. The currency of the future is going to be coding. Africans must democratise technology through computer coding.”
Adesina, pleaded for Africans to embrace technology, and government at all levels to urgently move away from, “investing in the jobs of the past, but rather in the jobs of the future. A future that is just around the corner.”
According to him, “The people who control data, will control Africa. Coding must be compulsory at all levels. The currency of the future is going to be coding. Information technology must not be the exclusive privilege of the elite, we must democratise technology.”
In his welcome remarks, Mo Ibrahim urged the panellists to think about ways to address the “tsunami of young people entering the job market.”
The panellists acknowledged the role the tech industry can play in Africa’s economic transformation through the continent’s digitisation. However, they agreed on the urgent need to upgrade the skills of the past, to do it fast, and move away from the social fear of technology.
Research has shown that if governments harness the full economic potential of just the internet, Africa could add $300 billion to its GDP by 2025. Also, 70 per cent of all jobs will have an ICT component by 2020.
“Opportunities to transform Africa through technology are endless. In agriculture, drones can monitor crops, Artificial Intelligence can speed varietal selection, and the Internet of the Things (IoT) can control smart irrigation systems. Block chains can also aid food traceability.
“We must grab the opportunities. We must democratise technology. Africa should prepare itself. Digital technologies, including Artificial intelligence, big data analytics, blockchains, 3D printing, are already upon us,” Adesina said.
The three-hour interactive session ended with members of the audience calling for accelerated policy reforms and creating an enabling environment for innovative technology to thrive. The issue of data protection, identity protection and fake news and how to turn population into assets, topped discussions.