The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $1.5 million grant to assess policy gaps in the digital trade and e-commerce ecosystems in 10 countries in Africa.
The funds, sourced from the African Development Fund, the Bank’s concessional window, will go to the Smart Africa Alliance, an alliance of 32 African countries, international organisations and global corporations with a vision to create a single digital market in Africa by 2030.
Nicholas Williams, the Bank’s Division Manager for ICT Operations, said: “This project is both timely and vital. For the continent to create a unified digital market by 2030, efforts should focus on harmonizing and building a cohesive policy environment for intra-continental trade. The Bank is delighted to partner with the Smart Africa Alliance to advance key policy objectives that will support broader digital development across Africa.”
The project will study the policy environment in 10 countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, The Republic of Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Democratic Republic of Congo. Smart Africa will consult public and private sector actors to develop an online training program that will directly benefit 600 stakeholders (comprising of government officials, small and medium enterprises, private sector mobile network operators) and indirectly benefit another 2,500.
Lacina Koné, CEO of Smart Africa, said: “One of the critical challenges preventing the continent from preparing for Africa’s bold new future is the inability to conduct cross-border payments for goods and services due to a lack of solutions and crippling policies. Our partnership with the African Development Bank is crucial in creating an enabling environment to advance e-payments, and the digital economy is essential for Africa’s renaissance.”