How DBSA aims to modernise infrastructure through digital transformation

Digital transformation has become a critical foundation of every emerging economy that wishes to compete in the global market. It gives countries the ability to generate development impacts such as productivity boost, job creation and improved quality of life for all citizens. 

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation can be defined as the adoption of modern digital technology to internal and external operations, with the purpose of delivering unprecedented value to the intended audience. It’s a multi-dimensional approach that requires a holistic reshaping of processes and cultural behaviours within businesses and society at large. 

It’s especially important for developing countries such as those within the Southern Africa region. Not only will it help improve the development of public infrastructure, but it’s also the solution to bridge the inequality gaps that exist in the context of the socio-economic landscape. 

But in order to reap these benefits of digital transformation, developing countries require funding to facilitate the development of all necessary types of infrastructure. 

DBSA’s role in creating access to development finance

As the Development Bank of Southern Africa, we work to accelerate inclusive development on the continent by expanding access to development finance to implement integrated and sustainable infrastructure developments effectively. We act as a support system to the government and its goals to drive infrastructure development through digital transformation. 

We do this by identifying and developing appropriate funding structures and sources of revenue. And, also by identifying and creating financial models and financial delivery mechanisms for all projects aimed at supporting the development, upgrade and refurbishing of infrastructure. We engage with financial institutions and the market to develop financial instruments that will enable investments for this transformation.

To achieve our goals, we have created a digital transformation strategy, which details ways to improve infrastructure in developing countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, eSwatini, Namibia, Angola, Tanzania and other countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). 

DBSA’s inclusive strategy to improve infrastructure development

Digital transformation cannot exist without the basics of digital connectivity. Moreover, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure such as broadband infrastructure is vital to improve nation-building and social cohesion for local, national and regional integration. That’s why ICT investment takes priority and is the key driver of the development impact. 

Examples include DBSA projects such as the Internet 4All programme in Africa, SA Connect and municipal connections. 

These projects have resulted in a significant expansion of connectivity infrastructure across the SADC region, augmented by the undersea cables that connect Africa with the rest of the world. Particularly, four connectivity corridors, namely; Africa-Europe, Africa-Latin America-US, Africa-Asia and African-region. This global connectivity has, in turn, stimulated opportunities to address the gaps in the access network; the so-called last-mile infrastructure. 

What this shows us is that digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation provide unparalleled reliability and speed necessary for the creation and delivery of products and services to citizens. With this in mind, our digital transformation framework is a full-circle approach, which addresses the entire infrastructure value chain and focuses on key long-term interventions. It spans across financing, planning, project preparation, project development and implementation as well as post-implementation public infrastructure management.

Final thoughts

The importance of digital transformation in infrastructure development cannot be underestimated as it has proven to be a fundamental resource for socio-economic development and growth. We use digital transformation to improve social and economic infrastructure. Doing this allows us to create growth that is both environmentally sustainable and economically empowering.