Kenya welcomes resolution by world leaders to form Digital Silk Road Initiative


World leaders attending the second Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Beijing China on Saturday agreed to form a Digital Silk Road Initiative to bridge the communication gap between BRI’s participating nations.

The  leaders said the Digital Silk Road Initiative (DSRI) will provide the  needed digital platform for investors interested in the BRI economic  corridors.

Key elements  of the envisioned DSRI will include investment spaces with harmonized  legislations, reduced trade barriers, connected capital markets,  harmonized revenue and tax policies, seamless financial services, smart  multi-modal transport systems, digital communication infrastructure,  geopolitical cooperation, modernisation of customs control and business  climate.

Speaking when he  addressed a roundtable meeting of Heads of State and Government on the  second day of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China, President  Kenyatta said investments in strong digital communication regimes among  BRI participating nations will have a multiplier effect for the massive  infrastructure developments being implemented in these countries  including Kenya.

Kenyatta  said building intelligent soft systems will ensure that people are part  and benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

“I  am happy to note that we have agreed to form the BRI Digital Road  Initiative, to bridge the digital divide between participating  countries, and identify opportunities as well as challenges associated  with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR),” he said.

Kenyatta  called on his peers from the BRI participating economies to encourage  ICT innovations and start-ups by entrepreneurs in their respective  nations both as enablers for business and sources of jobs for the youth.

He  said BRI participating countries must work harder to ensure that cities  have the soft infrastructure to crowd-in the talent of young people as  an important engine of growth especially in the digital space.

Kenyatta  who spoke on the theme of “Boosting Connectivity to explore New Sources  of Growth” said connectivity is at the core of human development.

Giving  the example of the LAPSSET corridor projects that seek to connect  Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan to the rest of the world through the  Port of Lamu, Kenyatta said the East African region is establishing  seamless borders with high levels of connectivity.

“In  Kenya, we are investing in the development of the Northern and LAPSSET  corridors to provide vital connections from the Ports of Mombasa and  Lamu on the Indian Ocean to the various partner states of Uganda,  Rwanda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo,”  Kenyatta said.

He said  the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), a flagship project of Kenya’s Vision  2030 development blueprint and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is  fully operational and has become a critical regional connector for Kenya  and her East African neighbours. In under a year of operations, the  President said, the SGR has ferried more than 2.8 million passengers and  transported more than 4.2 million tonnes of cargo.

For  seamless connectivity to be attained,  Kenyatta called for the full  participation of the private sector in the Digital Silk Road Initiative.

“Because  BRI will be delivered through partnerships between governments, the  private sector and the people of our countries, we must create  opportunities for connectivities between these various sectors,” the  Kenyan leader said.

“These connectivities will forge shared understanding and ownership of the BRI,” he added.


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