INTERVIEW : Yankhoba DIATTARA, Minister of Digital Economy and Telecommunications of Senegal
Mr. Minister, what does the 9th World Water Forum that Senegal is organizing in March 2022 mean for your department?
The Forum, as an international event, is an opportunity for Senegal to reaffirm its position as a great nation participating in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This event, which is expected to welcome many participants, will magnify Senegal's commitment to great causes but also the country's experience in water management.
For the Digital Sector, it will allow the actors of the ecosystem to show the innovative potential and the transversal character that digital technologies can bring to such a strategic and vital sector as the water sector.
Indeed, axis 4 of our strategy "Senegal Digital 2025" promotes "the dissemination of digital technology in the sectors of activity" and digital technology makes it possible to optimise the water cycle by having a positive impact on the entire value chain, from supply to distribution, including production and treatment with, in particular, sensors, mobile tools (smartphones, computers) and augmented reality in order to project oneself into the future.
How is Senegal prepared to host such world-class digital and telecommunications events?
Senegal has a rich tradition of successful organization of world-class events, I want to mention the GSR 2010 (Global Symposium for Regulators) in 2010, with 193 countries and 500 organizations and academies in the world, ICANN 42 in 2011 with as many hosts and a specificity in terms of requirements related to the amenities on digital uses (International bandwidth capacity needs, secure telecommunications networks and offering a good quality of Services (QoS).
Today, the infrastructure and event facilities have been strengthened in Diamniadio with the CICAD and the exhibition centre, which are equipped with the latest technological equipment with good Internet connectivity, enabling them to host large-scale international events.
What measures do you intend to take to strengthen connectivity during the Forum?
We are counting on close collaboration with all the operators to deploy or strengthen Internet connectivity capacities whenever necessary, especially for the Forum.
Senegal has a high-performance telecommunications infrastructure:
- A fully digital transmission backbone
- A high quality telecommunications infrastructure
- 15,000 km of optical fibre throughout the country
- Good international connectivity with 4 submarine cables (Atlantis 2, SAT3, ACE, MAINONE) and a bandwidth of over 400 Gbps)
- Coverage of the national territory by several satellites
- A digital terrestrial television infrastructure
- An Internet exchange point (SENIX)
- A hub in the West African sub-region for international connectivity
- An independent network of modern infrastructures for e-government
We already have a framework for exchanges with stakeholders on international meetings and the organisation of such events. The Digital Forum and the the Head of State's Grand Prize for Digital Innovation last November enabled us to have a major session on digital and water organised in collaboration with the Executive Secretariat of the World Water Forum. This framework will be revitalised for specific actions towards the Forum.
What are your expectations of the Forum in terms of your department's mission and objectives?
Given the importance of digital infrastructure and ICT tools in the successful organisation of the Forum, it is expected that this event will once again demonstrate Senegal's digital capabilities and the success factor that the use of digital technology can represent in all national initiatives, whatever their scope (local, regional or international).
The World Water Forum is a showcase for demonstrating once again the professionalism and innovative potential of the digital ecosystem to meet the challenges of the moment. This event will undoubtedly stimulate the commitment of young innovators to develop more application solutions oriented towards Water Management, Smart Energy, E-Irrigation, Climate Change, all formulas that reinforce the enthusiasm of our young people towards emerging professions. Moreover, this project is well underway through the actions of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Macky SALL, with the organisation of the Head of State's Grand Prize for Digital Innovation, which awarded the first prize to an agricultural initiative, which is therefore closely linked to water.
For my Department, this is of course an increased visibility but also an opportunity to create winning synergies with other governmental actors, international organisations and private sector companies. In general, the World Water Forum is a good opportunity for us to demonstrate the potential of digital technology to support the economic development of our States.