Globally, we are grappling with an economic downturn, major health crisis and dramatic strains on fiscal resources that are reorienting our lives and livelihoods.
For Africa, the current global challenges have further exacerbated the pre-existing challenges that we face. Despite these once-in-a-generation challenges, there is an opportunity for Africa and other emerging markets to find innovative ways to accelerate the adoption of digital solutions and emerge stronger from the crisis. Technology served as a lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Africa’s digital transformation is already embodied through a variety of sectors such as fintech, e-Commerce, healthtech, media and entertainment, local transportation, food delivery and business-to-business (B2B) e-Logistics.
However, we are still at the nascent stages of digital transformation. For instance, almost half of households in the developing world still lack broadband access. In Africa, access reaches only 18% of households and affordability remains a major obstacle. Many traditional sectors of our economies have not yet realized gains from digitization. Additionally, where Covid-19 accelerated reliance on digital solutions, these households and sectors risk being left behind.
By increasing internet access to reach 75% of the population, Africa’s Internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion (5.2% of the continent’s GDP) and to create 44 million jobs by 2025.
Together with governments and policy makers, we have an opportunity to focus on 4 key pillars that can accelerate digital transformation: physical infrastructure, talent & human capital development, AI & tech innovation and a regulatory system that supports competitiveness.
That’s why Google is happy to support the launch of the Global Business Africa Initiative (GABI) organized by the Un Global Compact. This support between the UN and the private sector, which is aimed at accelerating Africa’s economic growth and sustainable development, brings global leaders together to put Africa at the heart of the solutions to global sustainable development challenges.
We need concerted efforts across sectors to ensure that we avoid a compounded effect of a health and economic crisis and a digital gap.
Africa’s important role in the global economy is undeniable and when we commit to building a better future together, we will be unstoppable.