Digital technology ‘key to transformation of Africa’s economies’

4 May 17

African governments must embrace the digital technologies that have the potential to transform the continent’s economies and public services, according to accountancy firm EY.


In the latest edition of its report on Africa’s attractiveness to foreign investors, published yesterday, EY stressed that harnessing new technology could help Africa overcome the stumbling blocks that have long held it back.

Ajen Sita, Africa CEO at EY, said the continent remains on track to become a $3tn economy, but growth needs to become more inclusive and sustainable if it is to eradicate poverty at the “levels that are required”.

EY suggested this can be achieved by transcending the physical barriers that currently hamper Africa’s trade, communication and service delivery. Poor infrastructure means markets are physically disconnected; it is difficult and costly to move people and goods, industry is plagued by power shortages and the continent’s productivity is constrained.

“If we accept the reality that physical connectivity will remain a key stumbling block to inclusive growth across Africa for at least the next decade, then the need to activity embrace digital connectivity becomes critical,” said Sita.

New technologies offer more immediate transformative potential, EY said, with the rapid spread of mobile and smart phones on the continent exemplifying how digital tools can fill the space left by a lack of older infrastructure – the so-called leapfrog effect.

EY pointed to the new opportunities this has in turn opened up in financial inclusion, digitally enabled entrepreneurship, innovative health and education delivery systems and e-government initiatives.

To harness this, the report said governments will have to recognise digital technology as an opportunity rather than a threat, and work to create digitally enabling regulatory environments.

“Efforts to harness the potential of digital technologies as a fundamental driver of inclusive growth are still far too piecemeal and fragmented,” added Sita.

“What is required is a far more collaborative effort between governments, business and non-profit organisations to adopt technological disruption and create digitally enabled offerings with a particular focus on health, education and entrepreneurship.”



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