Investing in Africa’s digital future
White House announces new Digital Transformation with Africa initiative
Jan. 18, 2023
Fueled by rapid urbanization, increased consumer spending, and a large youth population, Africa has one of the fastest growing populations of internet users, making the continent primed for digital growth. Digital public infrastructure — the digital solutions and systems that enable society-wide functions and access to modern necessities like data exchange/sharing, digital forms of ID and identity verification, financial transactions, and information systems — can help shape Africa’s digital transformation and support more people-centric outcomes that prioritize equity, inclusion, justice, and access for people across all African nations.
In December 2022, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit welcomed delegations from 49 African countries and the African Union to discuss critical areas of cooperation between the U.S. and Africa for building a positive digital future. As part of the Summit, during the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, President Biden announced the Digital Transformation with Africa (DTA) initiative. Through the new initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration will work with Congress to invest more than $350 million and facilitate over $450 million in financing to bolster Africa’s digital transformation. The DTA investments are aligned with the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy, which outlines bold goals to capitalize on its digital potential by 2030.
While the DTA combines the initiatives of multiple departments and agencies for a whole-of-government approach, all U.S. efforts are focused on three core pillars:
- Digital Economy and Infrastructure, through expanding and facilitating access to open, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet connection, as well as digital technologies, platforms, and services across Africa
- Human Capital Development, such as improving digital skills and literacy to foster greater participation in the digital economy and digital entrepreneurship, particularly for youth and women, as well as supporting e-government capabilities
- Digital Enabling Environment, including initiatives to strengthen good governance, policies, and regulations that promote a more accessible, inclusive, and secure digital ecosystem.
The 2022 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit also saw commitments from the U.S. private sector to increase investments across Africa to advance digital transformation, including:
- Microsoft and Viasat’s new partnership to deliver internet access to 10 million people globally, including 5 million people across Africa by 2025.
- Cisco Systems’ new initiative to train 3 million technology workers, specifically students and young entrepreneurs, across Africa over the next ten years. Cisco and diaspora-owned partner Cybastion committed more than $800 million to improve cybersecurity.
- Visa’s pledge to invest $1 billion to scale operations across Africa over the next five years, strengthening the digital payments ecosystem.
With a variety of cross-sector initiatives leading the way for DPI investment and development across Africa, there are new opportunities to integrate best practices and user protections into the foundational core of Africa’s digital growth.