Africa must leapfrog in digital innovation

Yesterday, the curtains were drawn on the highly successful 3i Africa Summit which kicked off last Monday in Accra with a call by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on African governments to prioritise research and development, as well as foster a culture of entrepreneurship and creativity.

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He explained that by supporting innovation, African countries could harness the potential of their youthful population and drive sustainable economic growth that benefits all sectors of society.

The summit was a groundbreaking global event centred on transforming Africa’s economic landscape through sustainable, long-term capital allocation and also aimed to unlock Africa’s digital and financial potential.

The three-day summit was on the theme: “Unleashing Africa’s Fintech and Digital economic potential”. The theme of the summit resonates with the majority of the populace because it lies at the core of African countries’ mission to drive connectivity and inclusion across the continent and Ghana specifically.

Ghana, in particular, is emerging as a key player in the fintech space. It is no coincidence that it hosted the first 3i Africa Summit. Despite these gains, we must look beyond the shores of Ghana because Africa lags far behind the world in mobile adoption and innovation.

Constraints such as low infrastructure coverage, affordability of data and smartphones, and lack of digital skills training continue to inhibit access to the Internet among vulnerable groups, especially women.

We share in the concerns of the CEO of MTN Ghana, Stephen Blewett, when he said that Africa must make every effort to remove these bottlenecks and close the usage gap by improving data coverage and lowering the cost of data and data-enabled devices, especially in rural and low-income areas, and enhance digital literacy.

This is why the Daily Graphic welcomes the summit being held in the nation’s capital and commends the organisers for bringing the continent’s best digital brains to Accra to brainstorm and provide solutions to the challenges bedevilling the digital space.

Ghana is known for its innovation, resilience and adaptability, and has contributed in no small measure to shaping and deepening Africa’s digital economy through financial inclusion and so it was no surprise that Accra hosted the maiden summit.

We wish to commend the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Development Bank Ghana (DBG) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) through its subsidiary, Elevandi. We are even more excited that the conference led to important conversations and the building of strategic alliances to nurture the flourishing African digital economy and fintech sector.

More importantly, the conference generated greater momentum and traction for Africa’s digital finance agenda by causing finance, policy and technology to meet at the crossroads.

Through this coordinated effort, the outcomes would support the development of creative solutions made especially to handle Africa’s unique problems and take advantage of its wealth of prospects.

For us, our hope is that the discussions, views and solutions of the summit will be packaged as recommendations, collaborative deals, progressive policies and projects to enable the unlocking of Africa’s fintech and economic potential.

The recommendations will be shared with the rich assemblage of leaders in the finance, policy and digital technology space for implementation. Today, the country stands on the threshold of a digital revolution that has the potential to transform lives, economies and the way we do business.

From mobile money to e-commerce, Africa is experiencing an era of unprecedented technological advancement, which requires that we take the outcomes and recommendations of the summit seriously to enable the continent leapfrog to the next level of development.

We know that sustainable investments are critical to our digital transformation journey; for, they are the fuel that ignites creativity and action while driving economic growth. We must therefore continue to deepen relations with our critical stakeholders to create innovative digital and financial services that cater for the growing needs of Africans.

We must propel industry to lead the charge with the opportunities available to leapfrog Africa’s development.

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