The digital economy is a key driver of growth globally, and it is important for Africa to embrace digital technologies to take advantage of this economic opportunity.
This is the message from key thought leaders at MWC Kigali 2023.
Industry forecasts say that while the digital economy contributed 15.2% to the global GDP in 2020, this figure will rise to 24.3% by 2025.
African countries have therefore shown particular interest in embracing digital technologies as a key way to improve the lives of all who live on the continent.
“Thanks to the continuous development and construction of improved digital infrastructure, we expect to see explosive growth in Internet users and e-commerce users in Africa,” said Dr Philip Song, Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei Carrier BG.
This includes the tenets detailed in the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa paper, which was written by the African Union and aims for all Africans to have access to broadband speeds in excess of 6Mbps at a reasonable price.
This would give Africa the ability to leapfrog its developmental hurdles and become a significantly bigger contributor to the global economy.
As part of this drive, leading ICT role players on the continent have identified three key areas where digitalisation can help African nations provide better lives to their citizens.
Many areas of Africa remain uncovered by affordable Internet connectivity.
Once connectivity is available to all, it will deliver huge digital production and living benefits that far exceed the cost of the connectivity itself.
For example: access to reliable connectivity will allow more Africans to leverage the power of online learning to upskill themselves for the modern workplace.
This increased skills development will lead to an evolved economy where innovative businesses have access to more talent.
5G presents a huge step forward in connectivity, and the benefits of this are being experienced at scale in developed economies.
By prioritising the implementation of 5G connectivity, Africa has the ability to solve its connectivity issues; at the same time, opportunities will arise that will help these network providers win new users and increase their ARPU.
“For example, the ICT industry has created new business fields like mobile IoT and mobile payments, which have made significant contributions to economic and social development,” said Song.
Green energy is always a critical topic – and Africa is perfectly positioned to become the best example the world has to offer of what is possible with sustainable energy technology.
As most of Africa comprises developing economies, there is less legacy infrastructure to deal with when switching power networks to green alternatives.
Companies like Huawei offer excellent green power solutions that have already been implemented in Mali, for example.
Thanks to these solutions, carbon emissions have been reduced by 10 tons per year and network providers have experienced significant OPEX savings.
Work together to build a digital Africa
While we live in a world with lots of uncertainty, the evolution of technology is one of the few things we can rely on.
“Huawei is ready to support operators to expand digital boundaries, create more digital value, and accelerate digital transformation to fully unleash digital productivity in Africa,” said Song.
Go digital, go 5G, and go green – let’s work together to build a digital Africa.