Figures show that the digital economy is becoming a big part of the global economy. In many Sub-Saharan African countries, some aspects of the digital economy have already had a major impact on people’s daily lives. This is especially true for mobile payments. In a country like Kenya, mobile payments are 10% of annual GDP. Other factors, such as the emergence of equipment and increasing connectivity in the affordable appliance market, are driving the movement towards socio-economic and cultural digitalization. As a result, there are many positive outcomes that these countries need to focus on and strengthen. Here are five such benefits:
1. The digital economy boosts business creativity and entrepreneurship
The connection between the digital economy and creativity is almost clear. These major technology services of recent years are based on disruptive ideas. Creativity is the driving force that allows us to solve the problems around us and take advantage of opportunities. Now is the ideal time to break the rules, build and innovate a culture, find original ways to monetize ideas, and ultimately have a profound impact on society. The idea to invent a medical tablet with a touch screen came to a young Cameroonian engineer during an internship at a public hospital. During his internship, he decided to solve the problem of critical heart failure by installing a device that could conduct medical examinations in remote areas and transmit the results to doctors for interpretation and diagnosis. Staying competitive in this digital age requires you to invent new business models and approaches to reach customers and markets. The good news is that people can be inspired by many successful examples in today’s world.
2. The digital economy has a direct impact on employment
There are many potential jobs related to the field of ICT, such as computer and electronic products, software publishing, telecommunications or IT. There is also a need for specialists in the global ecosystem: mobile application developers, data scientists and social network specialists. Of course, there is a need for skilled workers all over the world, and this allows everyone to develop their career at any time, even in the comfort of their own home, locally or globally. Self-employed and entrepreneurs can take advantage of the many opportunities available to build their businesses. However, it should be noted that people need to work together, share new ideas, evaluate their projects and develop synergies. It may be important for both employers and employees to think deeply about changing their work habits with the Uberization of the labor market.
3. The digital economy opens up Africa as a global potential market
Contrary to some people’s misconceptions, Africa is not a country. But one of the most promising prospects for the digital economy, especially for investors, is the ability to look at the African market as a whole or at least as a block of potential customers with similar purchasing power and / or lifestyles. Today, many managers and business developers are targeting an increasing number of African urban consumers as they become demand drivers. Africa Internet Group (a startup founded in Nigeria in 2012) currently runs e-commerce companies in 26 African countries and has recently received a total of $ 245 million in additional investment to support its sustainable growth. Entrepreneurs today need to have the mindset of African musicians, as many thought of their art as something to be appreciated in many African countries. And that’s why they list the cities they think will succeed with their art: Douala, Abidjan or Nairobi, and even other cities outside the continent.
4. The digital economy creates positive social effects
For some people outside the financial system, mobile devices have become a gateway to some financial services. It was even the first step to connect them with the rest of society. Nowadays, anyone with mobile money can, for example, buy a plane ticket (or train or bus) from a mobile phone without a bank account, which requires proof of official work. There are still ways to optimally explore the adaptability of microcredit to mobile money, which can appeal to a dynamic population without the funds and ideal projects to invest. Similarly, areas such as m-health and m-education are just beginning to be explored.
With the digital economy, the production chain is a shortcut and cooperation is a path to great success. Immediate access to information for all reduces inequality among citizens. Everyone can have the ability to take their destiny into their own hands without being connected to a strong network. With the potential growth created by these patterns and the application of good practices by various stakeholders, sustainable development is a normal outcome of those positive effects.
5. The digital economy promotes sustainable development
It really requires less storage, less facilities, and sometimes no need for resources; “Dematerialization” is positive for the environment. For example, if people buy fewer cars because they share with other people through a digital platform, it can effectively contribute to reducing traffic in our cities and bring more ecological balance.
As noted in the latest UNESCO report, along with social and economic dimensions, culture is gaining ground in today’s immaterialized world. It is time to develop locally relevant content that will be used by the growing demand for books, music or movies. The quality of many tools allows serious artists to create and present their work to the world. And it is even easier to raise funds through crowdfunding and other digital financial instruments.
The digital economy is emerging in sub-Saharan Africa as a powerful catalyst for growth and development. But people need to learn to work together and be open to the world. You need to have creative ideas and find disruptive ways for events to happen. There are opportunities everywhere to meet personal needs and help others.