Achieving digital transformation will take a collective commitment by all African countries,development partners and the private sector to massively scale up resources dedicated to building the foundations of a thriving digital economy throughout the continent. It will need leadership and a vision to push the frontiers of innovation so that Africa can own its 21st century.
At the national level, it will require a concentrated effort to build up the core foundations of the digital economy including digital infrastructure and platforms, digital skills, digital financial services and an environment supportive of digital business and entrepreneurship. A simultaneous effort will be needed to mitigate the growing risks of the digital era including cybersecurity, data privacy and protection and market concentration. At the continental level, it will require a renewed commitment to cross-border integration of digital markets – building from sub-regional level to continental level toward a Single Digital Market (SDM) for Africa. Such cross-border integration will be critical to generate the economies of scale, network effects and cooperation critical to enable African digital firms to compete regionally and globally, to create the investment case for digital infrastructure (e.g. broadband internet, payment systems) and to enable access to digital services, e-commerce and opportunities for all African citizens and businesses regardless of location.
How do we get there?
The World Bank Group (WBG) together with other development partners and sector stakeholders has supported with the African Union to develop a “Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa” to highlight the key policy reforms and investments needed at the national and regional level for the continent to achieve its digital development ambitions. The Strategy will serve as the blueprint for the AU, national governments, WBG and development partners to coordinate and concentrate efforts with private sector toward achieving the All Africa Digital Transformation vision.
To support the continent to achieve this, the WBG, through the DE4A initiative, is committed to support policy reforms and interventions, and to leverage the public and private investment needed to build the foundations for a future-ready Africa. This commitment has been accompanied by a call for African countries to increase their spending on digital economy and to prioritize critical reforms.
Achieving digital transformation will require setting ambitious, easy to understand targets for the Digital Economy for Africa initiative’s indicators – a “Digital Economy Scorecard” - across the five foundational pillars of the digital economy. This can help concentrate efforts, catalyze action, and enable progress toward implementation and achievement of objectives to be tracked.