The impact of digital technologies has revolutionized various aspects of our lives, including work, leisure, transportation, and social interactions (Safder, 2021). According to the World Bank, the digital economy accounts for 15% of global GDP at USD 32.6 Trillion. This quantum is 10 times the GDP of Africa estimated at roughly 3.1 trillion U.S. dollars in 2023.
Developing nations in the global south have a unique opportunity to leverage the Digital Economy for growth and societal progress (Haqqoni & Pramana, 2022). To achieve their goals of economic diversification, value creation, digital transformation at a national level, job generation, and reducing inequality; governments and policy makers must embrace this new era by adopting digitization strategies in both public and private sectors. For public policy and national digital economic strategies to be effective, collaboration between government and private sector is key to create the desired impact (Kukhtevich et al., 2020).
The digital economy is primarily a data-driven economy encompassing all sectors in the economy (Ji et al., 2020). The digital economy is not a technology or engineering issue, therefore all stakeholders from various fields should work together to create this data driven economy (Glazunova et al., 2021). Data, being the most valuable resource is a critical enabler of personalized customer experiences, digital business models, industry ecosystems, and automation. The ability to secure data, capture data, synthesize information, learn continuously, and apply the resulting insights at scale is a key differentiator in the digital economy (Ji et al., 2020).
A combination of new technologies like the Internet of Things devices, high speed 5G networks, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools spreads intelligence from the edge to the core and turns data into value, creating the data value chains – The Digital Economy (Safder, 2021, Glazunova et al., 2021). To drive growth and innovation, Industry leading organizations regardless of sector are striving to master this data value chain to unlock business value.
Industry leading organizations understand that by effectively securing, collecting, analyzing, and utilizing data, they can make informed decisions, optimize processes, enhance customer experiences, and drive innovation (Safder, 2021). By harnessing the power of data, organizations and governments can gain a competitive advantage and make significant strides in economic growth, tackling corruption and enhancing public service and quality of life (Safder, 2021).
According to Integrated Research, the digital economy has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of society, including healthcare, education, government services, and more. Notable benefits of accelerating the implementation of the digital or data driven economy in the global south include many benefits that have been outlined by Cheng & Qu (2023), Safder (2021), Glazunova et al., (2021) and (Haqqoni & Pramana, 2022).
• Enhanced operational efficiency and improved productivity by automating tasks, streamlining processes, and facilitating real-time data analysis thereby allowing government and businesses to accomplish more with fewer resources, leading to cost reduction and waste minimization.
• With increased network speed and improved communication technologies, geographical barriers are broken granting businesses and governments access to new markets and consumers.
• New digital technologies are catalysts for innovation. They offer robust capabilities and resources for research, development, and experimentation. This has the potential to revolutionize industries, create new market opportunities, and drive economic expansion.
• Digitalization enhances access to essential services like healthcare, education, and government services. Telemedicine, online learning, and e-government services simplify access and improve the quality of these services, particularly in remote or underserved areas.
• Digital payment systems such as mobile banking now account for 70% on transactions in Zambia. This has expanded financial services to underserved populations, fostering financial inclusion and economic growth in regions with limited traditional banking infrastructure (BOZ 2023, Mobile Banking Transactions Report).
• The digital economy has contributed significantly to sustainability by enabling remote work, reducing the need for physical travel, and optimizing resource utilization. Smart power grids and IoT solutions have improved energy efficiency thereby reducing carbon footprints in economies actively adopting new technologies (Cheng & Qu, 2023).
• Businesses that adopt digital technologies gain a distinct advantage in the market. They can swiftly adapt to shifts in consumer demand, personalize interactions with customers, and adjust their business strategies based on evolving preferences.
• Governments can leverage digital tools to simplify administrative processes, reduce bureaucracy, and combat corruption. Through E-government initiatives, the potential to enhance public service delivery and increase transparency in government operations is huge.
In conclusion, the digital economy now accounting for accounts for 15% of global GDP or ten times the GDP of Africa is transforming many industries, generated new markets, and fueling economic growth. The Digital Economy can provide numerous benefits for Africa, including increased employment opportunities for youths, improved access to essential services, economic protection for differently abled individuals, enhanced sustainability, and a competitive edge for businesses (Cheng & Qu (2023), Safder (2021), Glazunova et al., (2021)). Furthermore, the digital economy can empower governments to streamline processes, reduce corruption, improve public service delivery, and enhance social governance. The digital economy has also played a significant role in social transformation and governance mechanisms by improving interactions between governments and citizens and promoting financial inclusion (Cheng & Qu (2023), Safder (2021), Glazunova et al., (2021)). The digital economy has ushered in a new era of connectivity, efficiency, and innovation.
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2. Safder Nazir – Huawei’s Digital Industry Center of Excellence, Accelerating the Digital Economy: Four Key Enablers, https://e.huawei.com/kz/eblog/industries/insights/2021/accelerating-digital-economy
3. Integrated Research Ltd – The Importance of the Digital Economy, https://www.ir.com/guides/the-importance-of-the-digital-economy
4. Glazunova, O G., Sayapina, T P., Korolchuk, V., Kasatkina, O M., & Voloshyna, T. (2021, January 1). Digital intelligence of a modern economist: an exploratory case study. https://scite.ai/reports/10.1051/shsconf/202110403001
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