Ghana’s Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, has challenged African leaders to take advantage of growing advances in technology to better the lives of their citizens.

According to Dr Bawumia, the application of basic technology like the mobile phone means there is no need to go through the growing pains of using pre-existing technology and infrastructure which have had some negative effects on the world, especially in the West.

Taking part in a special session of the ongoing 5th World Government Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the theme “Leapfrogging Development: The African Story,” Dr Bawumia said leveraging the many uses of technology would speed up the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so crucial to Africa’s development.

The concept of Leapfrogging is usually used in the context of sustainable development for developing countries, as a theory of development which may accelerate development by skipping inferior, less efficient, more expensive or more polluting technologies and industries and move directly to more advanced ones.

“The SDGs, these are targets that we all subscribe to (ending hunger and poverty, improving education and health, etc) and we have to try to achieve all of these by 2030, within the UN framework. It is something that you see countries working towards. For many countries, going towards the attainment of these targets is an area where you could leverage technology to leapfrog”, Dr Bawumia said.

“In Agriculture, education and health, we can leverage technology, so I see this decade for Africa as one where we’re going to move towards the attainment of these Sustainable Development Goals. There is so much technology available, even via the mobile phone.”

Dr Bawumia emphasized however, that the decision to seize the many opportunities offered by technology to develop the continent would have to be made by Africans.

“Africa is a huge continent with huge resources. What we have not done over the years is to leverage all these resources to develop the continent. But increasingly you’re seeing some transformation taking place in many countries.

“What we’re realizing, and what many countries are understanding, is that if you’re going to leapfrog you really have to lead that charge yourself. Nobody else is going to come and say ‘hey, you have to leapfrog’ because you’re competing with everybody else. You’re in a globally competitive environment. You have to do it yourself.”

The fifth annual World Government Summit currently underway in Dubai, under the theme “Shaping Future Governments”, is exploring the future of government in the coming decades.

The World Government Summit is a global platform dedicated to the enhancement of government around the world. This year, it will bring together over 3,000 government leaders and policy makers, private sector executives and renowned experts from worldwide.

The summit ends on February 14, 2017.