RIA’s Executive Director, Alison Gillwald was in Abidjan on February 19-20 for the launch of the African Development Banks Group’s (AFDB’s) report on “Unlocking the Potential of the 4IR in Africa”.
Gillwald facilitated a panel discussion on digitalisation and datafication for development in the main plenary session of the event. The key points she highlighted are in relation to making the shift from the digital divide to digital dividends for Africans.
According to Gillwald, digitalisation, which has been identified as a crucial ingredient for achieving some SDGs, can lower economic, social and transaction costs, boost efficiency, improve information flows, promote innovation, and potentially increase inclusion as people access new services.
However, Africa is not seeing digital dividends because most Africans are still offline, alongside vested interests in business, regulatory uncertainty, the rapid expansion of automation and the poor record of some e-government initiatives are aimed at controlling, not empowering citizens.
One major concern is that despite low levels of access or even no connectivity, Africans’ data are still being extracted, to feed, improve and alter new technology with associated harms. Overall, in Africa, digital development strategies need to be broader than ICT strategies.
To access the report, “Unlocking the Potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa”, click here.
Image courtesy African Development Bank Group.