UK DIT report highlights potential for digital growth in Africa through affordable mobile access

A report from the United Kingdom’s  Department for International Trade (DIT) highlights the potential of mobile  and digital services to grow African economies and deliver an improved  quality of life across the continent. 

In the ‘The rise of Africa’s digital economy – tackling the ‘usage gap’ to create  a thriving market for mobile services’ report, which is launched at MWC  Africa in Kigali, Rwanda, the Department highlights the opportunities that  exist if businesses and government’s work collaboratively to improve access  and usage to mobile channels. 

Economic growth can be secured by increasing access digital-first services  of all types, including health, education and even entertainment content.  According to a report from Juniper Research, e-commerce transactions hit  USD 4.9 trillion in 2021. This was boosted in part by the COVID-19 pandemic  which forced people to stay home and brought a renewed focus on digital  interactions. That number is expected to rise to USD 7.5 trillion by 2026. In  Africa, a Google and IFC report estimates that internet businesses could add  an extra USD 180 billion to the continent’s GDP by 2025. 

See more: Ghana’s cedi now the world’s worst-performing currency as Kenya’s shilling also struggles

While Africa is primarily a mobile-first continent, access to the internet in  remote locations is not assured, with adopting remaining a challenge.  According to the DIT report, other factors that need to be resolved include  affordability – the cost of data and smartphones, digital education and the  lack of targeted local content for users. 

Currently, the United Kingdom is working with the mobile telecom munications industry to improve coverage, affordability and accessibility.  The GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital  Inclusion, initiated in partnership with GSMA and the Mobile 4 Development 

foundation, is helping to facilitate mobile internet adoption for 3.4 billion  people around the world. It is also supporting start-ups to develop and deliver  innovative mobile services for users in Africa and Asia. 

DIT believes that increasing access, adoption and affordability for users can  deliver social and economic benefits for all. This will be felt in improved  access to education and health services, as well as local, regional and  international trade that can deliver job creation and ultimately, prosperity  millions of people in Africa. 

The Department is committed to working with stakeholders and leveraging  its experience to bridge the digital divide and so grow a more prosperous  continent.