Address by Minister for Trade, Dr Ewa Björling, ICT seminar in Luanda Angola

By Sweden - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Address by Minister for Trade, Dr Ewa Björling, ICT seminar in Luanda Angola
Address by Minister for Trade, Dr Ewa Björling, ICT seminar in Luanda Angola

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, May 30, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- ICT seminarium in Luanda Angola, 8-9 30 May 2013 30 May 2013

Ewa Björling, Minister for Trade


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Minister, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be back here in Luanda, and to be able to welcome you all to this important seminar on information and communication technology.

In Sweden, I notice a growing interest in Africa on a daily basis. I see it in the political, cultural and business communities.

Angola, being among other things one of the countries in Africa with the highest level of economic growth, is certainly of special interest to a lot of people.

Sweden and Angola have developed an excellent relationship over the years, and created close ties in several areas. I would very much like us to strengthen and develop these ties even further.

There is a number of interesting areas to explore, ranging from improved trade relations, knowledge transfer and increased foreign direct investments, to institutional partnerships, student exchanges and research cooperation.

Promoting commercial exchange with Africa is already a policy priority for Sweden. And although comparatively small, our trade with Africa is on the rise.

Swedish exports to Africa have increased by 200 per cent over the last ten years. But there is no doubt in my mind that there is a potential to rapidly increase both exports and imports in the years ahead.

I believe that sharing our Swedish experiences and transferring our technology can improve the possibilities for a sustainable development in many parts of the world - especially in countries such as Angola, that have an ambitious development agenda.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The subject of today's presentations and discussions is ICT, information and communication technology, and I´m proud that Sweden is one of the leading nations globally in this area. This is something that is shown in a lot of ways:

Sweden was, for example, the birthplace of wireless technologies such as GSM, LTE and Bluetooth.

Today, networks manufactured by Ericsson handle almost half of the world's mobile traffic, and many smaller Swedish companies have broken through on the world ICT stage during the last years.

Eighty-nine per cent of the swedes have internet access at home. And there are more than 12 million mobile phone subscriptions registered in Sweden - not bad for a country with around 9 million residents&

Virtually all - 99 percent - of Swedes aged under 30 go online every day, and 78 percent of the population as a whole.

People, businesses and public authorities in Sweden are among the quickest to adopt new technologies, applications and services, and technology companies from around the world often use our country as a test market for new products.

Many foreign companies also conducts research and development in Sweden.

Ladies and gentlemen,

ICT is an essential tool for finding solutions to many challenges facing a modern society. One such area, that I know is of great importance for both Angola and Sweden, is the construction and developing of sustainable cities.

Sweden has created a platform towards this goal, based on holistic and integrated methods. We call it SymbioCity. This platform brings together government agencies and Swedish enterprises with environmentally friendly methods and experience in sustainable urban development.

The foundation of this work can be traced back to the 1970s. At that time, decades of heavy industrialisation had taken their toll on Sweden, and we were the most oil-dependent country in the industrialised world.

This situation triggered political action and tougher legislation. It spurred cooperation between local, regional and national authorities and the private industry.

Gradually, companies began to turn sustainable ideas into reality - finding new ways to treat water, insulate buildings and develop automatic energy-saving systems and alternative fuels.

A new insight was that these innovations turned out to be really profitable.

Another insight was that the results could hardly have been achieved without highly developed and constantly improved technology.

SymbioCity builds on these experiences, and identifies the links between - among other things - land-use planning, waste management, architecture, urban functions, industry and buildings, energy, traffic and transport, water supply and sanitation.

With first class ICT systems, it is possible to unlock the synergies between different urban systems and units of public administration.

To name a few examples:

• Smart logistics can save transportation fuel as well as storage space, electricity and heating.

• Digitalized communications reduces the need for some transport altogether.

• Smart power grids avoid peak loads, save electricity, and make use of multiple energy sources.

• Smart monitoring makes buildings and factories highly energy efficient.

• And not to forget: good ICT solutions make it possible to maintain an open dialogue with stakeholders about public projects before and after implementation, something that contributes to involvement and responsibility.

This is just some of the reasons why ICT is an important part of our Symbio City platform. It's all about easily accessing, analyzing and sharing vital information in and between urban systems and parties - including the public.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Sub-Saharan Africa is the fastest growing ICT market in the world, and Angola is one of the largest in the region.

There are, of course, a lot of benefits to be had from developing a well-functioning ICT sector.

In Sweden, our experiences has shown that ICT helps to diversify the economy and make it grow faster.

ICT is currently one of our most important industries, a sector that generates many new companies and jobs through new innovations and ideas.

ICT also makes both the Government and the private sector more efficient. It makes it easier for the Government to communicate with citizens, and for companies to communicate with consumers.

As I just indicated, Sweden is one of the most mature ICT countries in the world today. And there are a lot of Swedish companies with cutting-edge know-how in mobile IT, network solutions, eGovernance, eLearning, eHealth, and other areas. Some of them, I am glad to say, are represented here today.

The Swedish Government's push for wide-spread broadband roll-out and use of computers has contributed in creating a platform for the digitalisation of our entire society. And in the Swedish private sector, ICT is estimated to account for a 33-per-cent productivity increase.

Close collaboration between the Government and the private sector has been key to our positive development, and there is a lot to be learned from both our successes, and our mistakes.

I´m certain that Angola have the opportunity to undertake the same fantastic journey that we have made (most probably a lot faster though), and we are, of course, more than willing to contribute with our expertise and know-how.

Ladies and gentlemen,

This seminar is intended as a platform for government officials and Angolan and Swedish businesses to come together and discuss how we can work together to meet the challenges ahead, and strengthen our commercial links.

I am hoping that we can establish new long-term partnerships, and that we, together, can develop a strong ICT sector in Angola, a sector that creates jobs and improves the standard of living for your people.

ICT is certainly an asset and opportunity for nations and society - but perhaps most of all, a dynamic tool for each and every one of us in our everyday lives.

Thank you.