Economic growth in Africa can be secured by increasing access digital-first services of all types, including health, education and even entertainment content.
So claims a report from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT) which highlights the potential of mobile and digital services to grow African economies and deliver an improved quality of life across the continent.
The report, ‘The rise of Africa’s digital economy – tackling the ‘usage gap’ to create a thriving market for mobile services’ , was launched at MWC Africa in Kigali, Rwanda.
In it, the DIT highlights the opportunities that exist if businesses and government’s work collaboratively to improve access and usage to mobile channels.
It sources content from Juniper Research which states that globally e-commerce transactions hit US$ 4.9-trillion in 2021.
This was boosted in part by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced people to stay home and brought a renewed focus on digital interactions. That number is expected to rise to US$ 7.5-trillion by 2026.
In Africa, a Google and IFC report estimates that internet businesses could add an extra US$ 180-billion to the continent’s GDP by 2025.
While Africa is primarily a mobile-first continent, access to the internet in remote locations is not assured, with adopting remaining a challenge.
According to the DIT report, other factors that need to be resolved include affordability – the cost of data and smartphones, digital education and the lack of targeted local content for users.
Currently, the United Kingdom is working with the mobile telecommunications industry to improve coverage, affordability and accessibility. The GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion, initiated in partnership with GSMA and the Mobile 4 Development foundation, is helping to facilitate mobile internet adoption for 3.4 billion people around the world. It is also supporting start-ups to develop and deliver innovative mobile services for users in Africa and Asia.
DIT believes that increasing access, adoption and affordability for users can deliver social and economic benefits for all, including access to education and health services, and job creation.
The report also gathers the views on innovation and the opportunities that exist from leading African industry thought-leaders, including:
- Dr Mike Short CBE, Chief Scientific Adviser, UK Department for International Trade (DIT)
- Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, Managing Director, M-PESA Africa
- Shameel Joosub, Group CEO, Vodacom
- Dr Nick Hughes OBE, Co-founder and MD, 4R Digital Ltd
- Melle Tiel Groenestege, Director of Digital Inclusion Policy & Advocacy, GSMA
- Adia Sowho, Chief Marketing Officer for Marketing & Strategy, MTN Nigeria
- Malick Dibba, Founder and CEO, Alchemy Telco
- Patricia Peiró, Chief Communications Office, Telecoming
- Anzelle Robertson, Director Business Development Sub-Saharan Africa, Sam Media