While the challenges of inadequate infrastructure, rural isolation, energy and high data prices remain to be overcome, no one can deny that the entire continent is digitizing at a rapid pace. unprecedented.
Today, we cannot talk about development without talking about the digital economy. According to Internet World Stats , the Internet penetration rate in Africa stood at 39.8% as of June 30, 2019, or 525 million users, against a global average of 57.3%. And according to the GSMA 2018 report on the African digital economy, mobile technologies have contributed 7.1% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP, or $ 110 billion. This shows that the knowledge economy will become more democratic with the increase in Internet access and the reduction of costs, especially in landlocked countries. But this will only be possible if public policies take up this issue. It is therefore the necessary mission incumbent upon them.
The advent of new models and instruments that are revolutionizing ways of doing things in Africa
The technological leap or “leapfrogging” has been one of the great themes of African economic history for the past ten years. It represents enormous potential for transformation with regard to infrastructure development and socio-economic challenges. Africa has indeed taken the bull by the horns by adopting mobile technology, demonstrating its leadership in innovation in the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) ecosystem. Africans are developing services and applications for the continent, providing information on market prices, health and even good agricultural practices. Some regions of Africa have already made great strides in developing mobile phone payment systems that give millions of unbanked people a chance to integrate into the formal economy. Indeed, countries like Kenya have even created new universities to train professionals in the mobile telephony sector at the initiative of the telecommunications authorities. For its part, Côte d’Ivoire has nearly 37 fintech startups that are developing new business models in mobile payment, going as far as adapting them to the context of the rural world as is the case with Moja Ride, a startup local in fintech. In Cameroon, Kiro’o Games is the 1st video game creation studio in Central Africa which innovates by creating games, comics, animatics etc. for and by Africans.
Digital training, an essential milestone
Having the tools necessary for the implementation of high-tech solutions is one side of the coin, training people to use these tools is the other. We have a demographic advantage, since more than 70% of the rapidly urbanizing population is under 30 years old. This young population aspires to nothing more than a telephone, or even two, and access to information via a stable and affordable internet. Investing in our human capital through training is fundamental to capitalizing in technology.
In its report on the information economy entitled ” Digitization, trade and development ”, UNCTAD highlights the growing impact of digital technology on African economies. While the continent continues to have the lowest broadband internet penetration rate, it is also the fastest growing continent in the world. This is the case with Senegal through its national strategy, Digital Senegal 2025, which presents an interesting continent-wide ranking (14th according to the “Network Readiness Index 9”) in terms of the development of digital infrastructures contributing already at 2% of GDP in the country, with the ambition to reach 10% within 5 years. To do this, the country has set itself the following objectives: to improve the integration of young people into employment, to promote industrialization and the Senegalese workforce and to provide certifications acquired outside the framework of traditional education. Senegal also inaugurated the national school of cybersecurity with a regional vocation (ENVR) in Dakar on November 6, 2018. Proof that the country is part of the era of the digital economy.
A technological leap started
By 2025, the contribution of digital to African GDP is expected to catch up with countries like Sweden and the UK, according to McKinsey. Are we not already talking about Africa’s digital “leap” through mobile banking, e-commerce or even e-government? Faced with its many constraints – geographic, health or ecological – Africa has had to constantly seek new models and innovate in order to develop. Take the example of health: Africa currently only has 2 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, while Europe has 32, the digital transformation of the healthcare offer represents 41% of African health establishments. Can we imagine a better opportunity to develop e-health? Today,
Rethinking administrations in Africa
While the digital economy offers promising prospects for the future, several elements must be taken into consideration in order for the new digital economy to be inclusive and benefit the greatest number. There are several ways to make African e-government platforms more useful and adequate for the majority of citizens. It is therefore essential that these platforms are accessible on mobile phones; this technology is increasingly affordable for most people on the continent.
E-government platforms will create empowerment spaces for small businesses and informal businesses. States Could Start Providing Cloud Computing Platformsorganizations that can support these businesses with IT infrastructure, software services, and visibility into a growing consumer market. Togo, which has fully understood the situation, has, for example, deployed a 250 km fiber optic network within its administrations since 2017. In addition, electronic payment and public procurement systems could see the light of day in all sectors of the administration. E-government solutions should also cover other aspects: waiting hours would be reduced in public service offices and the new system with a certain speed would facilitate official transactions. All over Africa,
Ultimately, digital technology – at the end of the pandemic which weakens most of the economies in the world – is inevitably the new way to boost African economies while accelerating the development and influence of African countries. More than ever, it is necessary to make the appropriate political choices at the right time, following the expectations of the populations and with the support of private partners.
Loïse Tamalgo, Vice-President in charge of public relations for Sub-Saharan Africa of Huawei Northern Africa.