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Does Africa have the resources to keep up with the rapid digital revolution?

The world continues to proliferate into a digital economy. And, the benefits and opportunities that follow do not go unnoticed. It helps connect people around the world while also creating new job opportunities that encourage economic growth. However, as beneficial as digital transformation may be, many African countries cannot experience the full extent of a digital economy because they lack the fundamental infrastructure and resources to go digital. This includes adequate power and communication systems and, more importantly, digital literacy. This hinders any progression within the continent. While other African countries have a long way to go before they can reap the benefits of digital transformation, South Africa has the necessary power to move into a digital space. However, there are a few hindering factors that need to be addressed. 

Digital literacy

For visible strides to be made within the digital space, digital literacy in South Africa and other African continents needs to be prioritised. Digital literacy should be a part of the educational curriculum as it teaches the youth how to understand and use technology to their advantage. It also teaches students how to adapt to a digital world and work towards ensuring productivity in a growing digital economy within a country. Many students in Africa and rural areas in South Africa don’t have the material, nor are they taught digital literacy in school. This will hinder any progress and economic growth as children are the future and the hope for a better economy. This is why education should prioritise digital literacy. 

Power

One of the major reasons Africa isn't ready to go digital is the lack of reliable electricity. Without power, the continent cannot be connected to the internet, which is a key component in the digital ecosystem. A digital nation relies on connectivity, electricity and a good network system, which many African and rural areas lack. For progression and to usher in digital transformation, a new industrial revolution, South Africa and other Africa continents need to prioritise developing and maintaining power infrastructure. Further, we need to ensure that electricity is easily accessible and affordable for citizens to purchase and use electricity to their advantage. 

Technological infrastructure

While the importance of digital literacy in society is known to be beneficial to the economy, if sufficient technological infrastructure is not being developed, a digital economy isn’t possible. This includes access to broadband, secure internet servers, technology services, and facilities to assist in digital transformation. Many countries in Africa either have poor or weak technological infrastructure, making it difficult to foster an environment that puts their digital literacy skills to use. However, South Africa has the capabilities and opportunity to become digital-ready, but it requires the development of sustainable infrastructure. 

What is DBSA’s role

At DBSA, we have an integrated approach to infrastructure development. We achieve this by ensuring we assist in delivering impactful development finance solutions that will help bring transformation in South Africa and the rest of Africa. To improve the quality of life for Africans and to ensure economic growth, there need to be investments made towards sustainable infrastructure. When it comes to digital transformation, we always ensure that we positively contribute by helping businesses modernise their infrastructure. We also assist by offering businesses support through business innovation that will help push South Africa and the African continent to progress in this digital era. 

Final thoughts

We need to work together to bring about effective change that can help the African continent move forward. This change won’t only benefit the economy, but it will also improve the quality of life for many people. African continents need to find effective solutions that will help ensure digital transformation and assist their economy. By achieving this, they will also be able to participate in trading with other countries, which will open more job opportunities and potentially help them out of poverty. As the DBSA, we work to ensure infrastructure that assists with digital transformation is possible.