Accelerating Africa’s Digital revolution: Prioritising transformation in telecommunications and banking.

  • 28 Mar 2024
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Shammah Sirima

Africa is on the brink of a digital revolution. With the growing recognition of the pivotal role digital technologies play in economic development, African nations are increasingly prioritising digital transformation initiatives. Here, we explore Africa’s intentions to expedite digital transformation, focusing on the enhancement of digital infrastructure, particularly in the telecommunications and digital banking sectors. We also discuss the significance of diplomatic relations and best practice study visits in fostering collaboration among African states to bolster infrastructure, utilising regional organisations such as the African Union (AU), among others.

In recent years, Africa has witnessed a surge in digital innovation, driven by factors such as increased mobile penetration, expanding internet connectivity, and the rise of tech-savvy youth populations. Recognising the potential of digital technologies to spring over traditional development barriers, African governments are embracing digital transformation strategies to propel economic growth and foster inclusive and sustainable development.

During the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, Ethiopia recognised the critical role digitisation plays in transforming Africa. Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde highlighted that speeding up digitalisation is crucial for dealing with pressures and providing quick solutions for problems faced by most African states. She noted that the expansion of digitalisation will play a significant role in meeting the African goals of the 2063 Agenda.

Telecommunications infrastructure forms the backbone of Africa’s digital landscape. Efforts to expedite digital transformation in this sector encompass initiatives aimed at expanding network coverage, enhancing broadband connectivity, and deploying advanced technologies such as 5G. By bolstering telecommunications infrastructure, African nations aim to bridge the digital divide, improve access to communication services, and stimulate innovation in various sectors.

Multiple African states have borrowed best practices from Ethiopia, as the state’s digital transformation in various sectors, including finance, telecommunications, and artificial intelligence, has advocated for a continental transformation in accordance with Agenda 2063. This has attracted multiple stakeholders from various states as well as financial institutions.

During the 37th Ordinary session, the CEO of Ethio Telecom expressed how African countries should transform their policies to attract and encourage new ideas, innovators, and investors who can adequately support the ecosystem and promote sustainable development.

Digital banking represents another frontier in Africa’s digital transformation journey. With an expanding population of digitally literate consumers and a growing demand for financial inclusion, African countries are ramping up efforts to modernise banking systems through digitalisation. This entails the adoption of mobile banking solutions, fintech innovations, and regulatory reforms to facilitate secure and convenient financial transactions. Digital banking holds the potential to empower underserved communities, boost economic productivity, and drive entrepreneurship across the continent.

The African Union noted that Africa holds the largest mobile market in terms of registered accounts and transaction volume. Today, Africa has around 781 million registered mobile money accounts. This provided a market platform to leverage these mobile user bases to promote trade integration and enhance Africa’s digital transformation.

Diplomatic studies offer valuable insights into fostering cooperation and collaboration among African states to accelerate digital infrastructure development. Diplomatic efforts, facilitated through platforms like the African Union and regional organisations, continue to play a crucial role in promoting policy alignment, resource mobilisation, and knowledge sharing among member states. By leveraging diplomatic channels, African nations can forge partnerships with international stakeholders, attract investment in digital infrastructure projects, and harness technical expertise to overcome implementation challenges.

Africa’s quest to expedite digital transformation holds immense promise for the continent’s socio-economic advancement. By bolstering telecommunications and digital banking infrastructure, African nations can unleash the full potential of digital technologies to drive inclusive growth, empower communities, and foster innovation. Moreover, diplomatic studies play a pivotal role in facilitating collaboration among African states and international partners, thereby accelerating the pace of digital infrastructure development. Through concerted efforts and strategic partnerships, Africa is poised to chart a path towards a prosperous digital future.