Africa’s internet economy has the potential to boost the continent’s trade and logistics capabilities and become a significant global player in food security.
According to Vera Songwe, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca), the internet economy in Africa can be easily worth US $180 billion by 2025.
“Following its full implementation, the African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to boost inter-Africa trade in agri-foods by 42%. Essentially, we can feed ourselves and others accordingly”.
“In infrastructure, Africa’s internet economy has the potential to reach US$180 billion by 2025, accounting for 5.2% of Africa’s GDP (gross domestic product). This internet economy would be powered by trade,” she said.
In 2021, the potential of the internet economy’s power was put to the test in Ethiopia 🇪🇹 and Rwanda 🇷🇼 .
“We worked with the government of Ethiopia and the government of Rwanda last year, to be able to sell coffee- 11,200 bags were sold in one second through the internet, delivering about US$72 000 to small and medium scale [enterprises].”
“We know most women in agriculture don’t feed themselves with the food they produce; they feed themselves with the resources from the food they produce,” she added..
Uneca noted that the coffee was sold via Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce platform.
However, the Global Cost of Internet Shutdowns 2021 report disclosed that disruptions in Sub-Saharan Africa linked to regimes curtailing protests, and a chain of crackdowns on opposition and civil society, cost the continent US$1.93 billion.
Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, while addressing heads of state and government at the 39th session of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad), held virtually ahead of the Summit, said the biggest challenge faced by Africa’s initiatives was a lack of financial resources.
“As a collective and motivated by a common purpose, it is imperative that we proffer robust initiatives to mobilise resources for our programmers, from within the continent,” he said.
Adopted in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia, at the 37th AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, Nepad provides a vision and policy framework for the African Union.
Through Nepad, Africa fosters economic cooperation and integration among member states.
With Nepad, Africa seeks to achieve Agenda 2063, a set-out plan to transform Africa into a future powerhouse, through collective prosperity and sustainable development.
•Digital consumption growth is fueled by a fast growing urban and mobile population
A growing urban and mobile population brings tremendous potential to the economy. Internet penetration is 40% today and a 10% increase in mobile Internet penetration can increase GDP per capita by 2.5% in Africa, compared with 2% globally. Increasing Internet penetration to 75% has the potential to create 44 million new jobs.
•Tech ecosystem driven by dynamic developer and startup landscape
Tech talent in Africa is at a historical peak and continues to rise annually. There are 690,000 professional developers across Africa with more than 50% concentrated in 5 key African countries: Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa. While there are challenges confronting startups in the African ecosystem, there remains an abundance of opportunities and increased venture capital inflow to the continent.
•Internet infrastructure investments are further boosting connectivity
Infrastructure drives increased access to more affordable and higher-speed Internet. Tech companies’ investment in subsea and terrestrial fiber-optic infrastructure has led to rapid growth in international Internet capacity.
•Pro-innovator regulation can benefit the African Internet economy
Regulatory inconsistency can hamper market access and limit investment opportunities for startups. Startup acts and regional harmonization are initiatives that are driving mutually beneficial growth. It is important for entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers to continue dialogue, encouraging environments where digital businesses can thrive.