What Will It Take For Africa To Efficiently Grow Its Digital Economy?

On the previous post , i talked about the potential benefits that will come as a result of a strong digital economy and what measures have to be in place for the continent to harness those benefits. This post i will be discussing in detail those measures using the five principles laid out by the World Bank for harnessing the digital revolution to eradicate poverty.

As aforementioned ,when in the process of coming up with projects to see the realization of the Digital Economy Moonshot,African governments,development partners and private sectors are going to come across a lot of challenges. To tackle these potential challenges during the digital transformation process,the following five principles should be followed.

Homegrown Solutions

Like most African countries, Botswana is faced with the problem of ICT projects being implemented by foreign based companies. One might argue that the reason for this is because of lack of skilled expertise at home and one might also rebut that point and say it is not because of lack of local skilled force but lack of trust in local based labor force by the projects' financiers. Whichever side of the fence one falls on,the bottom-line is that for efficient ICT projects which are going to fully benefit the local populace,they have to be implemented by local expertise who fully understand the problems on a more personal and hence relatable level. Relatable understanding of the problem will consequently lead to solutions which the local population can fully benefit from. It would be useless and a total wasted of money to implement foreign solutions which fail to address our people's needs because the implementer did not fully understand and relate to the problem in the first place. The motto should hence be "African solutions to African problems by African people".

Collaborative Work

To come up with solutions which are going to be efficient and beneficial to populations,there has to be collaborative efforts not only between African countries but different sectors and other economic players within those countries. Collaborative work will ensure that those left behind can be assisted to catch up with the rest of the pack and those who have made large strides can assist those who are lagging behind. The main objective of the Digital Economy Moonshot is for every African individual,government and business to have broadband access by 2030 so even if one of those is not connected by then,the initiative would have failed. To ensure this does not happen, collaborative efforts between these different stakeholders are of the utmost importance.

Inclusive Solutions

Be it gender,economic or racial inequality,Africa is rife with lack of inclusion for certain groups of the population which leaves them at a disadvantage. This can simply not be allowed to happen in Africa's quest for digital economy prowess. No one can be left behind or else all the investment into the realization of the digital economy moonshot would be futile. Solutions should be tailored in such a way that benefits are enjoyed across the entire spectrum of the population regardless of gender,race,location,economic sector or economic class.

Transformative Solutions

Because the continent is already lagging behind compared to its peers in developed countries, in its quest to catch up,it needs transformative solutions which are going to completely change the status quo. Solutions should be ambitious,zealous and high-reaching to ensure that the continent catches up and even goes past developed countries in the digital economy. The only way to ensure this happens is for project financiers to put in place very rigorous vetting bodies in the process of acquiring implementers for ICT projects. A "go hard or go home" approach should be adopted to ensure that only solutions which are going to ensure that the continent takes a large stride are going to be implemented.

Comprehensive Solutions

Lastly, only comprehensive solutions which involve the full involvement of all necessary stakeholders will benefit the continent's quest for the realizations of the main objective of the digital economy moonshot. No man should be an island in this quest and free sharing of information by all involved stakeholders should be the norm. Prospective solutions should take into account the input of all who are going to be involved in coming up with the proposed solution and those who aim to gain from the proposed solution.

Africa has a unique advantage in the fact that it has the youngest population in the world but unfortunately,the continent is failing to exploit this advantage to its benefit. Instead, this young population is wasting its productive years either unemployed or severely underemployed. The digital revolution offers the continent an opportunity to have a strong and effective digital economy which would consequently incite productivity of its young population. The digital economy offers a chance for Africa to have the world's biggest economy before dawn of the 22nd century,but as aforesaid,this will only happen if all relevant stakeholders collectively work together for one mission, to make Africa the great continent it was meant to be.