‘Why governments must adopt digitisation’

THE need for governments on the African continent to adopt digitisation for their operations has been stressed.

According to the Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft 4Afrika, Ryno Rijnsburger, the COVID-19 pandemic offers Africa the chance to leapfrog development through digitisation and potentially position itself as a global digital powerhouse.

Rijnsburger noted that: “Government is the strategic enabler in all African countries and Microsoft’s vision is to enable remote access, enable cross-agency collaboration and deliver trusted and secure services, driving sustainability and transformation.

“While the private sector has an important role to play in this development, governments across Africa have a critical role to play in enabling digitisation, through infrastructure development, but also in digitising their own systems and processes and by creating an enabling environment using regulatory and legal tools.

“Developments such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) reinforce the urgent need for governments to digitise to enable not just trade, but positive economic growth across the continent.

“In its report Reopening and Reimagining Africa, McKinsey and Partners notes that governments will play a key role in fostering an enabling environment for digitisation, including ensuring that the regulatory and legislative environments support digitisation.

“Governments can step up the provision of digital services and information, and utilise digital tools to collect, manage and use data to inform decision-making.”

He further stated that to unlock digital transformation, the public sector must be brought into the digital age, accelerating the rollout of digital IDs, signatures and registries, as well as implementing digital-friendly policies.

“A report by McKinsey estimated that Africa’s public services could achieve annual technology-related productivity gains of between $10 billion and $25 billion per year by 2025 through measures such as digitising the management of public records and using enterprise resource planning.”

The benefits of the digital economy according to Rijnsburger are significant as digital technologies offer a chance to accelerate the pace of economic and social advancement, unlocking new pathways for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services.

He concluded that: “If African governments can embrace digitisation with agility and speed, the benefits could prove to be a game-changer for the continent and its citizens, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development.”

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