technology

UK DIT report highlights potential for digital growth in Africa through affordable mobile access

October 28, 2022

A report from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Trade (DIT) highlights the potential of mobile and digital services to grow African economies and deliver improved quality of life across the continent.

In the ‘The rise of Africa’s digital economy - tackling the ‘usage gap’ to create a thriving market for mobile services’ report, which is launched at MWC Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, the Department highlights the opportunities that exist if businesses and government’s work collaboratively to improve access and usage to mobile channels.

Economic growth can be secured by increasing access to digital-first services of all types, including health, education and even entertainment content. According to a report from Juniper Research, e-commerce transactions hit USD 4.9 trillion in 2021. This was boosted in part by the COVID-19 pandemic which forced people to stay home and brought a renewed focus on digital interactions. That number is expected to rise to USD 7.5 trillion by 2026. In Africa, a Google and IFC report estimates that internet businesses could add an extra USD 180 billion to the continent’s GDP by 2025.

While Africa is primarily a mobile-first continent, access to the internet in remote locations is not assured, with adopting remaining a challenge. According to the DIT report, other factors that need to be resolved include affordability - the cost of data and smartphones, digital education and the lack of targeted local content for users.

Currently, the United Kingdom is working with the mobile telecommunications industry to improve coverage, affordability and accessibility. The GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion, initiated in partnership with GSMA and the Mobile 4 Development foundation is helping to facilitate mobile internet adoption for 3.4 billion people around the world. It is also supporting start-ups to develop and deliver innovative mobile services for users in Africa and Asia.

DIT believes that increasing access, adoption and affordability for users can deliver social and economic benefits for all. This will be felt in improved access to education and health services, as well as local, regional and international trade that can deliver job creation and ultimately, prosperity to millions of people in Africa.

The Department is committed to working with stakeholders and leveraging its experience to bridge the digital divide and so grow a more prosperous continent.

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