The FINANCIAL — Elizabeth Thomas-Raynaud, Director and Senior Policy Executive at ICC Digital Economy and BASIS, gave a talk at the AFICTA summit on how the implementation of ICTs can empower businesses and entrepreneurship on the African continent.
Ms. Thomas-Raynaud, situated in Paris, France remotely participated in the conference taking place in Nairobi, Kenya—this speaks volumes about the potential of ICTs to bridge divides. ICT forms the backbone of nowadays’ digital economy and has a strong potential to accelerate economic growth and improve people’s lives in fundamental ways in developed and developing countries.
The AFICTA conference in Nairobi, Kenya addressed four major problems affecting lives on the African continent. President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta’s “Big Four Agenda” entails solving these problems, and ICC seeks to create a framework that can identify appropriate policy approaches to maximising the potential of ICTs towards the aligned interest of actualising the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The UN SDGs are seventeen goals that address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The challenge with utilising ICTs towards these ends is to clearly set out strategies and approaches that maximise their potential in a sustainable way.
Here are the items on the Big Four agenda, and some ways that ICC seeks to incorporate ICTs and healthy policy implementation into their solution.
The need to accelerate and grow the industrialisation and manufacturing sectors
No one-size-fits all approach to nurturing the development gains of digital technologies but governments should start by being future-orientated. Equipping populations with the skills needed to innovate and leverage digital tools, promoting investment and market entry to attain greater coverage of networks and driving inter-operability across policy and regulatory landscapes.
The need to attain universal healthcare for the continent’s citizens
An online database could help the population knows what medicines are available to them. Implementing an efficient supply-chain management system of pharmaceuticals could make medicine available to the public and ensure that it gets to their location.
The need for food security for all
Basic ICT is already helping farmers in developing countries keep pace with accelerating demand for milk products that have been a force in improving quality of life and boosting rural economic growth. The preservation of large amounts of perishable items such as milk in tropical countries requires extensive processing and distribution planning. Control systems provide intuitive automation and maintenance solutions that ensure a hygienic, efficient environment for processing and preserving the health benefits of milk.
Ensuring that all citizens have access to decent and affordable housing
Land in urban Kenya is incredibly expensive, in part due to the lack of transparency in the process of buying, selling and renting. The implementation of an Internet platform that streamlines this process could inform the population as to what land and properties are valued at, effectively standardising this process and making rentals and ownership more accessible to the public.
ICC’s role in Policy Guidance
ICC’s global network in over 100 countries will take a role in guiding policymakers in their plans to incorporate ICTs in Africa. All of the Big Four Agenda points would benefit strongly from the utilisation of a mobile phone based platform for money transfer and financial services could illustrate how the ecosystem works in practice. ICTs are not a ‘silver bullet’ but their implementation alongside healthy innovation policy can help create a more shared future.