West Africa’s population is rapidly growing, and so is the demand for digital services, which is a pertinent indicator to watch out for. One of the challenges faced in the sub-region was COVID-19, and during the 2023 cashless policy period in Nigeria, digital services with banks experienced serious glitches as a result of the overwhelming demand for online transactions. Another challenge is that, according to a World Bank report, only 40% of people in West Africa have a mobile phone.
Implementing reforms centered on opening the door for private and public investments is key to unlocking the potential of West Africa and accelerating digitalisation. When there are sufficient frameworks that support the investments of public-private investors and stakeholders, it levers the industry and improves access to developed systems, digital infrastructure, KPIs (key Performance Indicators) of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and companies, and e-governance efficiency in the sub-region.
According to a report by the World Bank and the UN Broadband Commission, Africa needs $100 billion before 2030 to bridge the digital gap.
For a larger audience in West Africa to have access to important information for sourcing, accountability, and profiling, the manual representation of diverse data in governance through paperwork, such as the budget, revenue, population size, workforce, and other national statistics, needs to be effectively transitioned to the digital space.
Coordinated interdependence policies are significant, as a symbiotic relationship between online users, governments, and companies will eliminate digital breaches and present an enabling environment for multilateral digital networks, and social and economic growth.
Examples include the World Bank Dev4A (Development for Africa) programme, ECOWAS ICT policy, Policy and Regulation Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), and HIPSSA Project.
Digital governance can increase the protection of users’ digital identities and human rights, and cross-cutting digital services and technologies. Digital IDs can help with digital payments, transactions, e-commerce, and the use of online services from other digitised sectors like health, education, finance, agribusiness, security, transportation, and environmental sustainability when government frameworks are secure, well-structured, and fully facilitated.
West Africa’s population growth and rural-urban migration necessitates a sustainable digital economy for intergenerational opportunities, digital education, internet connectivity, community development, and promoting digital trade, SMEs, and e-commerce growth for millions of livelihoods and job opportunities in the sub-region. Through reliable data, companies in West Africa can thrive through this global internet traffic.