Digital Transformation with Africa White Paper

Published

December 27, 2022

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, through its U.S.-Africa Business Center Digital Economy Task Force, welcomes the opportunity to support the White House’s new Digital Transformation with Africa initiative, announced by President Biden during the 2022 U.S.-Africa Business Forum.

This is a pivotal moment for Africa. Right now, there are endless opportunities on the African continent due to its growth in population, consumer markets, and internet usage, as well as an emerging generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and technology experts. At the same time, global challenges exist in Africa that can hinder its digital transformation, such as political conflict, climate change, food and water insecurity, global health issues, access to quality public education, and the establishment of a regulatory environment that enables entrepreneurs, businesses, and individuals to thrive. Maximizing the opportunities and addressing the challenges on the continent requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted policy approach — one that is proactive, forward-looking, and balances Africa’s and the U.S.’s shared long-term objectives with near-term imperatives.

This White Paper outlines specific, actionable recommendations for the U.S. government and African governments to consider as they partner with international allies, academia, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to embark on the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative (DTA). Many of these recommendations cut across policy areas, and deploying them in coordination with such stakeholders will yield even greater opportunities and benefits. Similarly, the U.S. should also coordinate efforts with ongoing continental strategies for digital transformation, including the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa and the World Bank’s Digital Economy for Africa Initiative. By swiftly acting on this White Paper’s recommendations, the U.S. government and its African partners can advance a vision for a modern African digital economy — one with shared democratic values, respect for human rights, and a commitment to open and competitive markets. The private sector is committed to this vision, and we look forward to working with the U.S. and African governments and stakeholders to ensure that Africa’s people can reap the sweeping benefits of the digital transformation.


Our recommendations for the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative

Improve and harmonize the regulatory environment

A regulatory ecosystem that promotes innovation is a prerequisite for digitally led growth. Clear, well-crafted regulation, with mechanisms for cooperation to ensure harmonized regulatory frameworks across borders, will be vital for building a sustainable and productive digital economy and technological ecosystem among the 54 diverse markets on the continent. In addition, a harmonized approach will help prevent regulatory fragmentation and promote a growth environment.

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Invest in digital connectivity and infrastructure

To augment Africa’s role in the digital economy and for it to reap all the benefits that participation brings, it is vital to facilitate investment in physical infrastructure, promote sound spectrum policies, and relieve consumer pain points associated with getting online.

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Advance human capital talent development

Africa is set to be home to more than a third of the world’s workforce by 2050. To develop and implement the beneficial regulatory environment discussed above and achieve the digital transformation, countries must therefore employ a growth agenda around human capital talent development. All around the world, an ever-growing percentage of jobs and opportunities are rooted in the digital economy, from virtual services to the manufacturing of materials and products that are necessary for a robust economy. Conversely, a lack of digital literacy can result in fewer work opportunities. Therefore, training and overall workforce development are vital for improving wages and the standard of living in a digital economy. To increase digital literacy, the U.S. government and its partner governments in Africa can identify specific areas for action, set priorities, and make commitments in this area. They should also seek to engage the private sector to foster partnerships that can help advance human capital development and support growth and investment through the identification of skills and workforce needs.

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Recommendations and Digital Economy Task Force

The U.S.-Africa Business Center’s Digital Economy Task Force is pleased to collaborate with the White House as it implements the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative and to share additional recommendations on next steps to actualize the three pillars. The Center’s Digital Economy Task Force advocates for the development of robust digital economies, including in the e-commerce and creative sectors, and promotes the enabling policy environment that fosters innovation, supports advanced manufacturing, telehealth, the seamless flow of data, and a connected financial services industry. Chaired by Google and supported by a broad cross-section of companies in diverse economic sectors, the mission and the members of the Task Force stand ready to use the expertise and convening power to support the Digital Transformation with Africa initiative to unlock the enormous potential of Africa’s digital future. U.S. companies are committed to assisting in these efforts, which will enable new and emerging business models and digital industries to flourish on a solid foundation and augment Africa’s participation in the global value chain of the digital economy. Working together, African and U.S. leaders and stakeholders in the public and private sectors can pursue this ambitious digital transformation agenda, which will drive economic growth on an unprecedented scale and benefit all global citizens. We look forward to further engagement on these important issues.

U.S.-Africa Business Center White Paper

To read through our recommendations click the link below.