African leaders committed to building a digital economy.


Mbarak Mbigo helps his colleagues who are software developers at Andela, in Nairobi, Kenya. © Dominic Chavez/IFC

Developing Countries are now jumping over the decades of traditional industrial development to embrace the present technological transformation.
We only have to Looking at the way we communicate, shop, travel, work, our style entertain and so many other things we do, you can understand how technology has ultimately changed every aspect of our life and business in the last 10 years.
Many countries like to be left behind as disruptive technology increases the stakes for countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa embraced the mobile telecommunication revolution from the year 2000 to as it demonstrates its capacity to harness the new technology. Presently, there is huge potential for digital impact in Africa. But then before we can actually achieve this, digital infrastructure, financial services, platforms, literacy and skills, digital entrepreneurship and innovation, which forms the basic five foundations of a digital economy that needs to be in place before it can be achieved.

The World Bank Group launched the Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative during the Spring meetings in April which brought together the IT giants and economist personnel like African finance and ICT ministers, central bank governors, global tech and telecom giants, including local and regional internet platforms, and thought leaders, digital entrepreneurs and development partners. The event specified the role of the digital economy as the main accelerator for growth, and elaborated on how to build its foundations, and also looked at the risks of being left behind if we don’t move almost at the same with the current digital trend.

DE4A is now working with a group of countries on a The Digital Economy Country Assessment (DECA), which will form the basis for digital economy country strategies is being handle by DE4A who is now working with a group of countries on (DECA). DE4A is aimed at increasing the connectivity across the region as well as to connect the rural and urban poor to digital financial and government services, markets and information as this will build and increase the base for vibrant digital entrepreneurship and raise the level of digital literacy and skills generally.

So many countries have already begin to root their paths towards a digital economy. Another instance is Senegal who has set a target to generate 10 percent of its GDP from the digital economy by 2025. Rwanda in other to deliver online e-government and other services as well across the country has also rolled out 4G and fibre connectivity to achieve that. Kenya is not left out as it has been the first before others in mobile money and is exporting its model.

For sub-Saharan Africa to participate well in the digital economy there should be a provision of affordable internet. Availability of cheap and affordable internet is very important and necessary.

However, out of the 25 least-connected countries in the world, 21 are in Africa alone and only 22 percent of the population has access to the internet and the region is not fully connected to broadband infrastructure as well. The region would benefit more if they focus on adding or making sure there is innovative business models for connectivity, taking advantage on alternative infrastructure under a “dig once” principle and also improving the policy and regulatory environment to boost private sector investment.

Making it easy for people to prove who they are through digital IDs is critical despite connecting people to the digital world. However, 29 percent of adults in sub-Saharan Africa mostly women, youths and the so poor where the percentage is much greater have no way of identifying themselves . Much like Rwanda is doing already, Digital ID programs could allow people to access government essential services.
As a way of increasing access to formal financial services, including mobile money, bringing people online will also help to facilitate that.

But good a thing is the fact that sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of mobile money use in the world. Take for instance, the issuance of the multiple mobile network by the government of Côte d’Ivoire to operator licenses, the market opened and the new Global Findex data shows a massive increase in financial access. However, the challenge now is to expand this access. Fifty-seven percent of adults still don’t have a transaction account, and only one in five adults has a mobile money account which is not impressive.

Countries have started to look into harmonizing regional frameworks for payment systems, cross-border data flows, data privacy, cyber security and consumer protection, all these in place will bring confidence and ensure that more people participates to improve on the financial access.
This initiatives are also critical for the creation of economies of scale and driving regional integration, which are necessary for sub-Saharan Africa to become competitive in the global digital economy. The regional integration will increase our digital economic strength.

The “platform economy” of e-commerce and online markets also the “shared economy,” which have become drivers of growth in digital economies , then the establishment of the platform for mobile payments and transactions opens the door to it . The region needs vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems such that helps local firms turn their creativity and energy into creating online valuable businesses for the platform and shared economies to take off properly.

According to’Total Early-stage entrepreneurial Index reports, ” Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the most entrepreneurial and youngest populations in the world“, but– mentoring, seed funding, office facilities which are the elements of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is still lacking in most countries. We still really need to build more technologically enabled businesses that create jobs and open new markets despite our many examples of excellence. Better and more digital knowledge and skills are another vital thing for Africa to achieve.

Basically people need digital literacy to interact with the digital world. Digital entrepreneurs also need specialized coding and programming skills needed to build online businesses. Most workers needs digital skills and knowledge to use technology in daily work activities
Andela one of the specialised education companies and some of the giant tech companies are already building these skills in key African markets to ensure the success of a digital ecosystem.

To accelerate sustainable development, we need to work together and across both private, public sectors as well as regional organisations and development partners to support Africa’s efforts to take advantage of these technologies of digital transformation to enhance development.

We look forward to working with governments and the private sector as we are committed to helping Africa build its Digital Economy, we must make it happen. We are not going to be left behind from the digital world.

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Credit: Wikipedia, Techeconomy.


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