With more than 100 new internet users per second, digitalisation in Africa is experiencing a period of unparalleled growth and development.
Since the onset of Covid-19, 57 per cent of organisations across sectors have increasingly adopted digital technology to thrive, recover and grow. As these trends accelerate due to Covid-19, it has the potential to contribute more than $1 trillion cumulatively towards Africa’s GDP (i.e. approximately 40 per cent of current GDP) over the next six years.
Six sectors are experiencing rapid digitalisation in Africa – finance, education, health, retail, agriculture and government –and this accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Companies and organisations in these sectors are associated with high levels of digitalisation measured by greater penetration of smartphones, adoption rates of cloud computing and "internet of things" technologies, automation of knowledge of work and higher internet bandwidth per user than other sectors.
These sectors have also attracted the highest amount of tech-related investments and are some of the biggest contributors towards GDP. They have grown rapidly during the pandemic and will play a key role in leading Africa’s economic recovery and transformation.
Our new paper urges policymakers to work closely with the public sector and across borders to integrate the latest globally available data platforms, networks and tech solutions into efforts to develop key sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, education, transport, finance and public services.
It will also be necessary to address gaps in energy and internet infrastructure, in the affordability of devices and internet, and in digital skills. These are key for foundation goals like universal internet access and digital ID.
Leaders could prioritise addressing technology constraints as part their top economic transformation agenda – be it economic diversification, agro-led industrialisation or other – and ensure a competitive and transparent environment to expand coverage, access, affordability and usage among people, businesses and government offices.