harison2_Mahmoud Bakkarpicture alliance via Getty Images_covid robot Mahmoud Bakkar/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Digital Transformation Strategy Africa Needs

Nurturing large-scale job creation in Africa will require policies that bring digital solutions to the non-digital economy. To reorient and strengthen their digitalization strategies, the continent's governments should follow four guiding principles.

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS – Many African countries reacted quickly and effectively to mitigate the health and economic risks posed by COVID-19. Less well documented is the agility with which the region’s private and public actors have adapted their digital practices in light of pandemic-related constraints. But the success stories are spectacular.

For example, person-to-person mobile money transfers in Rwanda increased fourfold during the first month of lockdown from mid-March to mid-April 2020, as contactless payments became the “new normal.” To slow transmission of the coronavirus, innovative start-ups developed digital solutions, like remote mobile app DiagnoseMe in Burkina Faso and COVID-19 triage tools in Nigeria. Education ministries in at least 27 African countries set up e-learning platforms for students affected by school closures.

In fact, entrepreneurial and tech-savvy Africans were devising digital responses to the continent’s evolving needs well before the pandemic. They have revamped business models in many sectors, from finance to e-commerce, agriculture, education, and health, and established over 640 active tech hubs across the region.

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