Transform Africa Summit 2017 held in the Rwanda capital, Kigali, saw signing of several deals in the technology sector.

Among the pacts inked was between the Government of Rwanda and Inmarsat, a global mobile satellite communications firm, to launch a series of digital service initiatives across Kigali.

The agreement is expected to facilitate the development of a number of key ICT projects aligned with the National ICT strategy.

The digital service pilots, which will be enabled through Inmarsat’s world-leading satellite communications network, are scheduled to last 12-months in Kigali.

Lessons from the pilot projects will be used to develop blueprints for a range of digital service initiatives that can be applied more broadly across Rwanda and in other African nations, in conjunction with the Smart Africa Alliance.

Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the minister for youth and ICT, said the investments being made in Kigali as part of the different projects will result into improved livelihoods for city dwellers, efficiencies and effectiveness for municipal authorities and provide a proof of concept for larger implementation in Rwanda and beyond.

Rupert Pearce, the chief executive of Inmarsat, said the partnership is aimed at ensuring that countries across the continent can jump straight to a next generation capability that can support African entrepreneurs, industry and communities and liberate their full potential, through connectivity.

“The key enabler to liberate this potential is connectivity. Inmarsat, with its world leading global satellite communications networks, is privileged to have been selected by the Smart Africa Alliance and Rwanda to demonstrate the ability of satcoms to release Africa’s socio-economic potential,” he said.

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At the summit, Smart Africa Alliance also entered into an agreement with Microsoft, a multinational technology company that develops and sells computer software, consumer electronics and personal computers.

The agreement comes in to formalise the partnership between the organisation and the alliance, which will see them support the continent in developing policies that will advance the body’s objectives.

Sebuh Hellulah, the general manager of Microsoft for Eastern and Southern Africa, said they will play a key role in supporting the organisation’s initiatives and objectives.

Whilst not devulging how much they are likely to incur in the process, he said their cooperation was more about enabling the continent leapfrog in technology.

The Smart Africa Alliance also signed an agreement with  Anteverti, which will provide  technical expertise and consultancy on developing smart cities  in the continent.

The deal will see the  firm, which is led by Pilar Conesa from Spain, bring on board expertise to develop Africa’s smart cities.

New members

The forum also saw the membership of Smart Africa Alliance grow by two following the addition of South Africa and Cameroon to bring the total to 20.

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union commissioner for infrastructure and energy, expressed the Union’s commitment to support the work of the alliance in integrating the continent.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, she said the work of the alliance was indispensable to integration and development.

Nikolay Nikiforov, the Russian minister of telecommunication and mass communications, pledged his country would share experiences in technology with Africa.