Dr. Joseph Atick, Executive Chairman of ID4Africa, and Alan Gelb, CGD Senior Fellow, join Gyude to discuss the evolution of ID systems across Africa, the benefits and risks of digital ID systems, and what African governments can learn from countries like India about what works and what doesn’t.
CGD Policy Blogs
Americans and Europeans don’t really understand the sheer volume of information that is plucked from satellites and radar and sliced a dozen ways and delivered to their smartphones for every possible need—from agriculture to the morning commute. This largely invisible network of data is much less reliable in the developing world.
This blog is part of CGD’s Governing Data for Development project, which explores how governments can use data to support innovation, development, and inclusive growth while protecting citizens and communities against harm. Drudeisha Madhub is a member of the working group that guides the project.
Less than 45 percent of the area of Tanzania is covered by any form of cell phone reception. Telecom providers target high-population areas first, so the percentage of the population covered by the cell phone signal is 83 percent. But the problem is that the remaining 17 percent of the population, or 9.2 million people, is spread over 55 percent of the country—meaning the density of potential users is low. Especially because rural populations tend to be poorer than city dwellers, the revenue generated per cell tower may be too low to justify rollout.
The participation of women in the Nigerian tech sector is low. In a survey of tech firms conducted by the ONE Campaign and the Center for Global Development, only about 30 percent were owned by women, mostly concentrated in e-commerce and enterprise solutions. Of women-owned firms, the median share of ownership is 20 percent. Tech firms do not employ many women either—31 firms in our sample employ no women at all. The median value is two female employees per firm.
Ethiopia has its sights set on becoming Africa’s next tech hub, rivalling Nairobi, Lagos, and Cape Town. But in its quest for digital supremacy, Ethiopia will need to take steps to create an enabling environment for the digital startup sector, which across Africa is driven in large part by fintech.
Last week, the Trump administration’s move to limit Huawei’s access to American components brought the waves of the trade war ashore in ways that were perceptible to the most casual African observer of the China-Africa relationship.
In Africa, as in much of the developing world, “informality” has become the dread of policymakers who are constantly told by international development agencies and consultants to “formalise” their economies.
There is an industrial revolution underway in sub-Saharan Africa’s most entrepreneurial economies.