Unbreakable Digitization: 5 Simple Estimates of the Benefits of the Digital Economy in Sub-Saharan Africa


Figures show that the digital economy is becoming a significant part of the global economy worldwide. In many sub-Saharan Africa, some aspects of the digital economy have already had a huge impact on the daily lives of the population. This is especially true for mobile payments. In a country like Kenya, mobile payments make up 10% of annual GDP. Other factors, such as the emergence of equipment in the market for affordable devices and increased communication, are driving the movement towards the digitization of socio-economic and cultural issues. So there are a lot of positive outcomes that these countries need to focus on and improve. Here are five such benefits:

1. The digital economy promotes business creativity and entrepreneurship

The connection between the digital economy and creativity is almost obvious. The main technological services of recent years are based on subversive ideas. Creativity is the driving force that allows us to solve problems around us and seize opportunities. Now is the perfect time to break the rules, build and innovate in culture, find original ways to monetize ideas and ultimately have a profound impact on society. The idea of ​​inventing a medical tablet with a touch screen came to a young Cameroonian engineer when he was an intern at a public hospital. During the internship, he decided to address the critical shortage of cardiac surgeons by building a device that could conduct medical examinations in remote locations and transmit results to physicians for interpretation and diagnosis. To be and remain competitive in this digital age, you need to invent new business models and approaches to customers and access to markets. The good news is that people can be inspired by many successful examples in today’s world.

2. The digital economy has a direct impact on employment

There are many potential jobs related to ICT, such as computer and electronic products, software publishing, telecommunications or IT. There is also a demand for professionals in the global ecosystem: mobile application developers, data scientists, social media professionals. Of course, skilled workers are needed all over the world, and this enables anyone to promote their career locally or globally at any time, even without leaving their own home. Self-employed people and entrepreneurs can take advantage of many opportunities to start their own business. But it is important to note that people need to work together, share new ideas, evaluate their projects and develop synergies. Also for both employers and employees may be relevant to deep thinking about changing work habits with the “uberization” of the labor market.

3. The digital economy is opening up Africa as a global potential market

Contrary to what some falsely think, Africa is not a country. But one of the promising prospects of the digital economy, especially for investors, is the opportunity to look at the African market as a whole or at least as blocks of potential customers with similar purchasing power and / or lifestyle. Nowadays, many executives and business developers are increasingly focusing on growing African urban consumers as they become stimulators of demand. Africa Internet Group (a startup founded in Nigeria in 2012) now operates e-commerce companies in 26 African countries and recently received an additional investment totaling $ 245 million to support its continued growth. Today, entrepreneurs need to have the mindset of African musicians, as many have thought of their art as something to be valued in many African countries. And so they list the cities that they think will be successful in their business: Douala, Abidjan or Nairobi, and even other cities outside the continent.

4. The digital economy has positive social consequences

For some people excluded from the financial system, mobile devices have been a channel of access to certain financial services. It was even the first step towards connecting them with the rest of society. Currently, with the help of mobile money, everyone can buy a plane ticket (or train, or bus) from a mobile phone without a bank account, which requires, for example, confirmation of official work. There are still ways to study the compliance of microcredit with mobile money in an optimal way that can address dynamic populations without the funds and ideal projects in which to invest. In the same way, areas such as m-health and m-education are just beginning to be explored.

With the digital economy, the production chain is a label, and cooperation is the path to great achievements. The fact that information is instantly available to all reduces inequality among citizens. Everyone can be able to take their destiny into their own hands, not necessarily connected by a powerful network. With the potential growth caused by these models, and when different stakeholders implement good practices, sustainable development is a common result of these positive impacts.

5. The digital economy is conducive to sustainable development

It really requires fewer warehouses, fewer facilities and sometimes no need to have stocks; “Dematerialization” is positive for the environment. For example, when people buy fewer cars because they share with other people through a digital platform, it can effectively help reduce traffic in our cities and bring more environmental balance.

In addition to the social and economic dimensions, culture is crucial in today’s demoralized world, according to a recent UNESCO report. It’s time to create local relevant content that will be used due to increased demand for books, music or movies. The quality of many tools allows serious artists to create and offer their work to the world. And it’s even easier to access funds through crowdfunding and other digital funding.

The digital economy is emerging in sub-Saharan Africa as a powerful catalyst for growth and development. But people need to learn to work together and be open to the world. You need to have creative ideas and find subversive ways to make things happen. There are opportunities everywhere to meet personal needs and help others.