Policy, trade and private sector in the digital era

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By NLM Writer

The annual Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development held in Morocco last month highlighted the importance of digitalisation in enhancing African economies as the continent celebrates the first anniversary of the highly hailed and historic signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area – (AfCFTA).

Seasoned experts and policy-makers from inside and outside Africa, debated fiscal policy and trade against the backdrop of recent economic and social development on the continent.

ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe estimates the global digital economy at over $11.5 trillion – set to rise to over $23 trillion by 2025 – and the effects of digital trade and economy in Africa are points of key debate.

With the advent of digital age, Africa can leapfrog and use new technologies to push the continent’s drive for sustainable development.

“The potential of Africa is, and has always been, promising… the continent has all the pre-requisites for rapid economic transformation in the next decade…[but] the importance of digitalisation and the digital economy in driving growth and structural transformation, as well as optimizing fiscal performance in Africa cannot be overstated,” she said.

The digital economy is currently estimated to represent 15.5 percent of global GDP and is expected to reach 25 per cent of global GDP in less than a decade [and] there has been a rise in the digital innovation hubs on the continent, such as the Silicon Savannah in Nairobi and the Kumasi Hive in Ghana, not to mention more solution-oriented technologies such as Flutterwave which has enabled global payment processing in Nigeria through a single, seamless platform. In 2018, this application was reported to have processed $1 billion worth of transactions.

“Such digital developments can have a transformative effect across the economy by reducing barriers to entry and expanding market reach for businesses, creating jobs, and boosting both domestic and foreign trade in goods and services,” Songwe emphasised.

Zouhair Chorfi, secretary general at Morocco’s Ministry of Finance Morocco and incoming chair of the Committee of Experts of the CoM, thinks “Digitalisation is a great opportunity for Africa, one that can transform Africa by increasing competitiveness, promoting strong integration and reducing the cost of doing business.

With the advent of digital age, Africa can leapfrog and use new technologies to push the continent’s drive for sustainable development.

Gender, youth, and climate change were also among other key issues in the spotlight. (

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