This was contained in a new report by the Washington-based bank titled, “The digital economy for Africa initiative.”
Digital technologies offer an opportunity to unlock new pathways for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services that would have been unimaginable only a decade ago.
According to the report, access to the Internet however remains out of reach for most people in the continent, with only 22 per cent reporting having access in 2017.
The report also noted that few governments were investing strategically and systematically in developing digital infrastructure, services, skills and entrepreneurship.“Too few citizens have digital IDs or transaction accounts – locking them out of access to critical services and e-commerce. Digital startups struggle to attract funding and ‘traditional’ businesses are only slowly adopting digital technologies and platforms to boost productivity and sales,” the report read in part.
The report further read in part, “To become tomorrow’s innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders, Africa’s youth need to be empowered with the digital skills and access to technology and markets that are essential to thrive in an increasingly digitized global economy.”
“Governments need to find more nimble and effective means of delivering services and interacting with citizens. Businesses need to utilize digitally-centered business models to connect with the hundreds of millions of customers previously out of reach due to geography or low income.”
It added that Africa has the opportunity to harness the digital economy as a driver of growth and innovation, but if it failed to bridge the digital divide its economies risked isolation and stagnation.