Building a Resilient Innovative Africa in a COVID-19 world

Internet data is ahuman right

Without exception, every single expert that took part in the development of this report agrees on the vital role that data has played during COVID-19. Moreover, there is unanimity in believing that access to data is critical in education, skills development, collaboration and in developing the competencies that individuals need to even stand a chance of doing well as an entrepreneur. The importance of data is not lost on governments. Sarr explains how policymakers should make universal access to data a priority on the continent and that it must be cheap and accessible to all. This is fundamental in encouraging innovation inclusivity.

“We arewitnessing first-handduring theCOVID-19crisis howtechnology is an enabler of trade, education, and health information. With schools being closed and public awareness and education about COVID-19 being so important, mobile service providers in Africa can play a greater role in ensuring connectivity. Policymakers must explore funding and operational models like public-private-partnerships that bring service providers into the policy arena, and to help make internet access and data cheaper on the continent. If multinational technology firms can build hospitals in Africa, they can work with governments to ensure equal access to the internet.”

Oulimata Sarr Regional Director, UNWomen

This is a view shared also by Mastercard Foundation’s Nsengimana. He points out that in the current environment, MSMEs must digitize to survive. Those without a digital presence have suffered the most during the pandemic andwill continue to be sidelinedwithout access to internet and data, and it is therefore incumbent on governments through public-private-partnerships (PPPs) to close the gap.

Joseph Nsengimana Director for the Mastercard Foundation’s Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT “We must ensure that innovation inclusivity starts with access. There is a need for multiple interventions that intentionally target and empower women and youth and those in rural communities. Intentionality is key.”


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