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Tech & Digitalisation

Putting Africa’s Tech Future in Africa’s Hands With a Pan-African Policy Taskforce


Commentary19th June 2023

African countries are using technology to leapfrog traditional development paths, embracing mobile phones, adopting e-banking and leading the mobile-money space. Local innovation and entrepreneurship are driving these changes – and this is just the beginning, with free trade across the continent expected to boost its economic output by $29 trillion by 2050. Tech will play an integral role in this. However, despite progress, Africa accounts for just 0.2 per cent of the value of global startups.

Fragmented markets and weak connections between stakeholders are among the challenges inhibiting tech growth. A startup system can only thrive when entrepreneurs have the support they need, funding for expansion and access to shared learning. Strong links between policymakers, entrepreneurs and the private sector are essential. To help Africa realise its enormous potential, the continent needs a pan-African startup community – a network to support and strengthen the connections essential to bolstering its burgeoning tech-startup ecosystem.

This is why the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, i4Policy and the Smart Africa Alliance have joined forces to establish and co-lead the Pan-African Policy Taskforce. This taskforce aims to build a community across stakeholders in Africa’s startup ecosystem, placing the continent’s tech future in African hands and maximising the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution.

Leveraging a collective reach of over 35 African countries and working closely with policymakers and the tech-startup community, the Pan-African Policy Taskforce provides a peer-to-peer learning platform that convenes relevant players to learn more about and co-develop policies that strengthen startup ecosystems across the continent. Specifically, the taskforce is a vehicle to drive coordinated collaboration, sustained impact and evidence-based learning.

1. Coordinated collaboration

A well-connected startup ecosystem encourages generous information exchange between entrepreneurs, organisations and policymakers, as well as extensive peer-to-peer learning. Collaboration – and having a space in which to collaborate – is essential to opening up information flows and ensuring actors across the ecosystem are building on each other’s work. By taking a big-tent approach that includes all actors, the taskforce can facilitate partnerships and connect policymakers with relevant organisations to identify areas where legislation supporting tech-startup ecosystems can be strengthened and/or introduced and actions for implementation can be developed.

2. Sustained impact

The taskforce provides an opportunity to aggregate and amplify the views of startups and the stakeholders that support their development by acting as a vehicle to directly influence policy with sustained impact. Regularly convening changemakers from across Africa involved in developing policies that strengthen tech ecosystems and support entrepreneurs, tech startups and tech-ecosystem players establishes a norm of working together, sharing lessons and building on each other’s successes to create long-lasting impact.

3. Evidence-based learning

The taskforce provides an opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, through which policymakers from ecosystems in different developmental stages can share experiences as they work to understand how best to make successful policy. Sharing knowledge, including key lessons and success factors, will create an evidence base arming decision-makers with the peer-to-peer learning they need to adapt and implement policies in their respective countries.

Since the taskforce launched in December 2022 it has brought together African tech changemakers from 20 countries, ushering in a new era of collaborative, action-oriented knowledge sharing and policymaking. Each taskforce meeting delves into a topic chosen by and relevant to all participants, with past meetings focusing on implementing innovative financing and legislation. Through the rich diversity and experience of the policymakers, tech-ecosystem players, and civil-society and donor organisations present in the taskforce, African countries will be better prepared to expedite their work developing, improving and implementing legislation supporting startups.

To learn more or get involved in the Pan-African Policy Taskforce, please get in contact.

Chizi Gakuo - c.gakuo@institute.global

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