Linnar Viik: Tips to lead digital transformation in Africa
The recent overview of African e-governance status quo, made by e-Governance Academy’s expert team, states that Africa is witnessing an unprecedented growth of digital technologies and the role of governments, in creating strong and enabling e-governance systems, is timelier than ever. Three main recommendations are given to supporters of e-governance development in Africa.
The Global Digital Revolution we are now experiencing is equally momentous to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century that led to a radical transformation of our societies and the world. The increase in the speed of dissemination of digital technologies and the rapid innovation process of the underlying technologies makes the digital transformation more accessible, affordable and impactful than the technologies that were driving the Industrial Revolution. Digital transformation processes in Africa are great examples of this.
Less than 0,5% of internet penetration in 2000 and under 5% penetration in 2007 made Africa lose out on digital opportunities. Now, with over 400 million mobile internet users, over 150 million mobile banking users, 150 billion € annual ICT spending and numerous sectorial leap-frogging innovations, we are witnessing an unprecedented growth of digital technologies. Many of the countries in Africa continue this path of growth in usage, and by 2020 the number of internet users is expected to double with mobile data traffic across Africa to increase tenfold.
This trend, accompanied by user-centric innovations, creates unique opportunities for economic growth, business transitions, productivity increase and service delivery. Taking this into consideration, the role of governments in creating strong, enabling e-governance systems is timelier than ever.
Africa is a diverse continent
Africa as a continent cannot be considered as a homogenous set of countries with a harmonized approach to their development agendas. Quite opposite – Africa is a diverse continent with big regional variations. It is true in most countries that the full potential of digital technologies is not yet used. Within countries, there are big differences between urban and rural areas, with many major cities in different countries showing evidence of what may soon come.
The categorization of the African countries is based on the most recent data about the present level of the e-governance critical components from international sources, supplemented with further expert analysis either for the validation of the data or concerning components that have not been covered by statistical data. The categorization serves primarily to identify the leaders in the field of e-governance.
Among the leading countries in the deployment of e-governance are Botswana, Cape Verde, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Rwanda, Seychelles and South Africa.
Key recommendations for deployment of e-governance
Key recommendations for a national, regional and pan-African roadmap towards deployment of e-governance and in support of the momentum for digital transformation are following:
- Support national capacity building and the creation of clear organisational structures for implementation of e-governance in the country. It is essential that there are clear structures with an established mandate and competence for e-governance implementation. In the absence of this, there is a risk of uncoordinated work and a lack of sustainability.
- Support the idea of regional cooperation, also independent of existing regional organisations, especially for knowledge transfer between countries. The level of development of e-governance in the African continent varies, but there is a lot of relevant expertise in many countries.
- Support existing regional structures in Africa, such as primarily the African Union (AU) so that a regional approach can be taken, making use of the benefits of scale and ensuring a seamless introduction of e-services across the continent.
The overview of African e-governance status quo was conducted by Linnar Viik, Katrin Nyman-Metcalf, Kristina Kaljurand, Margus Püüa and Tiina Viiderfeld.