A combination of lack of adequate infrastructure and connectivity and the absence of cross-border cooperation have been attributed to Africa’s failure in realizing its true digital economic pursuit.
This, James Claude, CEO of Global Voice Group (GVG), a provider of IT solutions to governments and regulatory authorities, said can be overcome with a heightened cooperation between countries and their various regulators.
“African governments have a crucial role to play in taking the continent to the next stage in its digital evolution, but right now many countries in Africa are individually working to increase their infrastructure and digital capabilities all by themselves,” he said while attending the 5thCrans Montana Forum in Dakhla, Morocco.
The most effective solution to address these challenges will be to approach these challenges from a regional perspective.
James Claude argues that businesses, universities and young entrepreneurs are increasingly contributing to the digital economy and fostering innovation in Africa, adding that what governments now need to work towards helping these private sector players to grow their solutions more rapidly and affect real change on the continent is harmonising regulations that allow businesses and services to expand beyond country borders.”
Africa’s potential as a global leader in the world’s digital economy grows significantly with each passing year. Africa’s population is increasing exponentially, and is expected to reach between 1.379 billion and 1.486 billion by 2025. In addition to this, the market penetration of digital technology is accelerating. Importantly, it is predicted that half of Africa’s entire population is expected to own smartphones by 2020, which already goes a long way towards overcoming infrastructural barriers to digital transformation and connecting people and services online.
“Building on this, mobile money platforms such as M-Pesa has fundamentally changed the way that money is circulated on the continent. E-commerce is also growing rapidly as a result of mobile money, with online retailers that accept mobile money payments even providing people without bank accounts access a greater variety of goods. Similarly, small and medium businesses are able to increase sales and overcome many infrastructure restraints.”
Claude explains that governments across the continent must build on this by creating more digital services based in Africa, facilitating more local tech companies, and continuing to invest in education and incubators that allow citizens to fully access and benefit from digital transformation.