Innovations in information communication technology (ICT) are driving entrepreneurship and economic growth in Africa, according to a report by the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The report, eTransform Africa: Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Africa, was supported by the African Union.
It showed that ICT innovations were boosting economic growth by providing homegrown solutions to Africa’s problems and transforming businesses.
With a mobile telephony market bigger than Europe or the United States, and 68,000 kilometres of submarine cable across the continent increasing connectivity and available bandwidth, the report says that Africa’s progress in ICT is having a direct impact on economic growth.
“The Internet and mobile phones are transforming the development landscape in Africa, injecting new dynamism in key sectors,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in the Africa Region. “The challenge is to scale up these innovations and success stories for greater social and economic impacts across Africa over the next decade.”
The report pointed out the importance of building a competitive ICT industry to promote innovation, job creation and boost African exports. It highlighted examples of best practice on the continent, such as the Kilimo Salama crop insurance scheme in Kenya, which uses M-Pesa, and the use of telemedicine in Mali to overcome the lack of trained health care workers.
It also demonstrated how countries such as Kenya and Senegal are implementing ICT-enabled trade facilitation initiatives, and shows the role that different regional economic communities can play in boosting ICT. Technology innovation hubs – such as Kenya’s iHub and Activespaces in Cameroon – were also documented.
“Africa is rapidly becoming an ICT leader,” said Tim Kelly, Lead ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank and a report author. “Innovations that begin in Africa – like dual SIM card mobile phones, or using mobile phones for remittance payments – are now spreading across the continent and beyond.
“The challenge going forward is to ensure that ICT innovations benefit all Africans, including the poor and vulnerable, and those living in remote areas.”
The full eTransform report is available online at eTransformAfrica.org.