, creating better jobs for more people.
We could not have known how critical access to digital technologies was about to become before the advent of the global pandemic. But in its wake, we are stepping up our commitment to support Africa’s digital transformation.
The Digital Economy for Africa (#DE4A) initiative was launched in 2019 in support of the "African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy." Since then, diagnostic reports have been conducted for 35 countries. These diagnostics provide snapshots of each country’s digital economy, examining five digital economy pillars (infrastructure, public platforms, financial services, businesses and skills), while managing the risks associated with digital transformation. The data from these evidence-based diagnostics inform current projects and potential future initiatives.
The projects are diverse and robust and help to narrow the digital divide through electronic identification and banking, mobile money services, family support, training, and mentoring through digital hubs and universities.
, including health education and e-commerce.
, using data from Nigeria, the largest mobile market on the continent. The percentage of households below the extreme poverty line drops by about 4 percentage points after one year of mobile broadband coverage, and about 7 percentage points after two or more years, in large part due to increased participation in the labor force during that time. Broadband infrastructure is a key driver of jobs and productivity, especially in rural and remote areas.
The development of digital technology accelerates socioeconomic development. It also connects their citizens to many more services and opportunities. Data and digital innovation are transforming the way governments operate, increasing transparency and service delivery.Mobile money is providing an easy and secure alternative to the traditional banking system while increasing financial inclusion.
Yet the pandemic increased the challenges for those who lack the access, opportunity or skills to operate in the digital world. Seven million university students in Africa could not continue their education in 2020 due to closures during lockdowns. The crisis also underscored emerging risks around privacy and cybersecurity, emphasizing the importance of promoting a safe, secure digital transformation.
As a response, countries have scaled up efforts toward universal broadband access. Through our work under the Digital Economy for Africa initiative, we are committed to helping countries increase bandwidth and manage congestion; ensure the continuity of critical public services; prevent and mitigate cyber risks; and power financial technologies as demand for services such as health care, mobile payments, food delivery, and e-commerce increase. We are developing robust regional and country action plans with tailored measures to increase access and adoption of digital tools.
At the World Bank, we are stepping up to this challenge. We look forward to collaborations that will help eradicate the digital divide, expand and strengthen connectivity and promote positive change across societies and economies.