Addis Ababa, Geneva, Washington DC – The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and Portulans Institute, a research and educational think tank in Washington DC, have teamed up to review the results and rankings of the think tank’s latest issue of the Network Readiness Report (NRI 2020) in an effort to determine how countries use information technologies for future readiness.
The report, entitled ‘Accelerating Digital Transformation into a Post-COVID World Economy’, will be released on 30 November.
According to the report, Africa continues to lag behind other regions on issues of access, affordability and use of ICTs. It points out that once the ‘ripple effect’ of COVID’s international trade and investment flows begins, such discrepancies between ‘network-ready economies’ and’ backward’s may be strengthened.
Mauritius (61) is the best performing African country, followed by South Africa (76) and Kenya (82); while the Democratic Republic of Congo (133) and Chad (134) have the lowest ranking among the 134 economies covered in the report.
The analysis shows that digital innovation and entrepreneurship on the continent has increased, with more than 400 digital hubs in Africa in 93 cities, including more than 130 new hubs that have opened in the past two years. Together, they generate more than $ 1.1 billion.
The report notes the context of the 2020 events analysis that the race to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated innovation and creativity in Africa, showing the continent’s potential to accelerate industrial development. including those based on homemade technology.
However, the authors note that the use of digital technology in Africa remains low due to critical barriers that limit the potential to transform the continent. The challenges in the field of digital technology are many and are exacerbated by limited access to digital services; inadequate and / or restrictive policies, legal and regulatory frameworks; lack of skilled labor and expertise; lack of interoperability of platforms; lack of data standardization; connectivity and few partnerships. The report must be emphasized so that Africa can take full advantage of the digital age.
Responding to issues raised in the report, Vera Songwe, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and ECA’s Executive Secretary, said: “We need to focus on access, cost and speed. It’s all about regulation and how we can better form public-private partnerships for the continent to make effective use of digitization and innovation. ‘
“The Network Readiness Index shows that Africa needs to act faster and soon ensure that the continent bridges the ICT access and affordability gap. The ECA will continue to provide technical assistance to Member States in this regard.”
She also stressed that African governments need to do more to seize the opportunities of the global digital economy, which will grow from $ 11.5 trillion in 2016 to more than $ 23 trillion in 2025.
“We want Africa to be part of today’s networked world. Digital technologies will undoubtedly play a critical role in Africa’s pursuit of the sustainable development goals and the Agenda 2063 of Africa, the Africa we want and the way on which we do business, “she said. Songwe said the addition of quality, access and reach is key to addressing connectivity issues on the continent, and that policies need to be cultivated and developed to reach Africa there.
The report emphasizes that the ability of national economies to enable the retraining and skills of their local workers and talents is key to their future. Recovery packages will play a key role in this regard.
For his part, Bruno Lanvin, co-founder of the Portulans Institute and co-author of the report, said: “The COVID crisis has shown how digital technologies can help us to be better organized and more resilient when faced with unprecedented challenges. “A social crisis that will follow has hardly begun to be felt. To address the threats of massive unemployment and growing inequalities, digital transformation is now an urgent obligation, in Africa as in the rest of the world.”
The NRI model recognizes the perseverance of digital technologies in today’s network world and is based on four fundamental dimensions: Technology, people, government and impact. This holistic approach means that the NRI covers issues ranging from future technologies such as AI and Internet of Things (IoT) to the role of digital transformation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Regarding this model, Soumitra Dutta, co-founder of Portulans Institute and co-author of the report, emphasized that: “The main concept underlying the new NRI model is that our collective future will require a harmonious integration of people and technology. People and technology will increasingly interact as collaborators and partners in most parts of society and business. To ensure the effectiveness of this integration, appropriate governance mechanisms will need to be implemented to address issues of trust, security and inclusion. “
This year, the knowledge partner for the NRI report is STL, a leading integrator of digital networks. Launching the report, STL CEO Anand Agarwal said: “We believe that large digital networks are the core platforms for better human collaboration and a better world. The Network Readiness Index is a powerful tool for digitally targeting companies and countries Digital network integrators such as STL are working hard on our responsibility to make networks efficient and affordable. “
Portulans Institute: firstname.lastname@example.org
ECA: Sophia Denekew email@example.com