In its study entitled “Foresight Africa Top priorities for the continent in 2018”, the Africa Growth Initiative advises African economies to give greater attention to digital in 2018. The research unit on the continent’s development challenges, created by the Brookings Institution think tank, believes that greater investment in the digital world will bring about a profound transformation, the benefits of which will only benefit the economies of African nations.
Digitization will boost the key segments of retail payment systems, financial inclusion, sustainable business models and revenue administration.
In terms of retail payment systems, they have saved African economies billions of dollars. The success of these tools, the M-Pesa is one of the most striking examples, will lead to the appearance of new, more efficient solutions. The Africa Growth Initiative believes it is high time for African economies to join the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) – a global partnership that encourages the shift from physical money to digital payments – and reap the economic benefits of this mutation.
In the area of financial inclusion, digitization has made a significant contribution to the access of low-income populations, especially women, to financing, credit and savings. Supporting the emergence of new, similar solutions is paramount, according to the Africa Growth Initiative. These solutions will further improve the lives of millions of people across the continent and achieve a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With regard to sustainable business models, the Africa Growth Initiative advises African nations to adopt solutions that support growth and productivity in various sectors. M-Akiba, intended for mobile micro-investments in government securities; M-KOPA for mobile solar energy supply; One Acre Fund to support small farmers; M-TIBA, the mobile wallet for health care, has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Finally, in the area of revenue administration and service provision, digitization will solve the problems of red tape, corruption and embezzlement of public funds that continue to plague public service in Africa. The dematerialization of procedures and services, is a step that must cross the continent, insists Africa Growth Initiative which presents the Kenyan digital platform “eCitizen” as an example to follow. It allows people to access various public services (taxes, trade, transport, etc.) online and pay by mobile or credit card.