Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and other African countries still lags behind the rest of the world in the race towards digital transformation, a technology expert, has noted.The expert said that despite growing number of innovative solutions, the current inadequate infrastructure and connectivity are preventing the continent from realising its true economic potential, noting that the best and fastest way to overcome these barriers hinge on cross-border regulatory cooperation.
Chief Executive Officer, Global Voice Group (GVG), James Claude, who said that while many countries in Africa are individually working to increase their infrastructure and digital capabilities, the most effective solution will be to approach these challenges from a regional perspective.GVG is a provider of IT solutions to governments and regulatory authorities.
While attending the 5th Crans Montana Forum in Dakhla, Morocco, earlier in the week, Claude noted that African governments have a crucial role to play in taking the continent to the next stage in its digital evolution. “Businesses, universities and young entrepreneurs are increasingly contributing to the digital economy and fostering innovation in Africa. Governments now need to work towards helping these private sector players to grow their solutions more rapidly and affect real change on the continent. This will require harmonising regulations that allow businesses and services to expand beyond country borders,” he said.
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,” he stated.
Claude explained 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.
“Equally vital, is to ensure that regulators in every region and country have the visibility, transparency and the necessary data to make informed decisions that will help the digital economy across the different jurisdictions. This is an area in which GVG already has a lot of experience, having pioneered the regulatory technology solution, RegTech on the continent,” he added.