Enabling Africa’s digitalisation through capacity building.
At Spurt! we are always looking to amplify solutions to critical and specific problems in sub-Saharan Africa. This week we reviewed Three ways West Africa’s digitalisation can improve by Alain Faujas @TheAfricanReport
Across the world, but notably on the continent, the COVID-19 pandemic created strong incentives for a shift to digital. Unfortunately, this shift highlighted the digital divide on the continent and its multifaceted barriers to digital transformation.
Nonetheless, the continent boasts 640 technological hubs and over 500 fin-tech companies. West African countries are taking the lead with 142 technopoles, over 200 fintech start-ups with some raising over a $1mn in funding, 50+ inter-continental incubators and a rising internet penetration rate.
There is definite growth on the continent but is it sustainable? Over 50% of educated Africans lack digital skills or access to digital learning platforms. Also, the brain drain of the few citizens with advanced digital skills, further depletes the continent’s resources. The AU and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a report titled The Digital Transformation and Job Quality aimed to serve as a loud plea to develop Africa’s digital economy.
The report suggested 3 ways to train, connect, invest, and protect the continents young workforce.
Firstly, schools are urged to steer more pupils towards STEM subjects and governments are encouraged to build distance learning centres in rural areas. However, they should also introduce appropriate technology which is relatively user friendly and easier to adopt thus leading to the adoption of other technological products.
Strategic partnerships with enterprises can also enable pupils to establish links between general and technical education. Good examples can be found in Côte d’Ivoire’s and Ghana’s school-enterprise models. We would also argue that there needs to be a larger buy in form organisations who seek staff with digital skills. They should partner with universities to ensure that students are better prepared for the digital working world.Secondly, the continent needs to adopt alternative energy sources which are a fundamental part of the infrastructure needed to boost digitisation as over 48% of West Africans lack access to power.
This is done by adopting solar power projects like the Akon’s Light Up Africa or the Desert to Power (DTP) Initiative. Countries could also implement policies against monopolies in the energy sectors as Nigeria has done.A missing point though was the growing number of partnerships between internet and electricity providers.
These innovative tech collaborations are digitising often overlooked and underserved communities. For example, Fenix International partnered with MTN, to integrate mobile money systems and financial platforms.Thirdly, there must be a greater investment into communications infrastructure which will cost approximately $3.1bn to provide 4G coverage to the whole region by 2025.
However, more should be done to invest in all key aspects of digital infrastructure such as network infrastructure, data centres, fixed broadband, and internet backbones.It is also important to note that some of this infrastructure is not economically viable in rural areas so there also need to be focused investments into alternatives such as Google’s Loom or Huawei’s RuralStar
Lastly, west African nations need to double down on creating laws against cybercrime and developing policies around digital security. So far, only Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Gambia have adopted legislation protecting the entire sector which is poor considering cybercrime ‘early career Yahoo’ cybercrime is synonymous with Nigeria.
The Spurt! People Development Programme (PDP) is designed to close the wide gap between the professional capabilities of recent graduates/early career individuals’ and current corporate expectations. One of our key modules is Digital Skills For The Modern Professional as we truly understand that local business need to digitise to become global giants.
An essential component of the training process is the development of an awareness of contributing to the African continent in an impactful and meaningful way such that, in every task they undertake our analysts do so with a sense of purpose, and a consciousness of their contribution to the organisation in which they work, and to their country and continent.To learn more about the Spurt! PDP contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org