Donorland and international development organizations are increasingly using the opportunities offered by digitalisation to fight poverty. But researchers have also pointed to the gap between development goals and digital vulnerability in developing countries. In order for development assistance to be sustainable, it is therefore important that digitalisation in developing countries includes the consideration of cyber security . Without this supervision being taken care of, the digitalisation of developing countries can provide a breeding ground for crime and instability. The costs associated with cybercrime are estimated at $ 375-575 billion annually, approx. 0.6 percent of global value creation .
4: The wonderful new value of digitalisation
Digital technology has been used in various ways in many African countries. Some countries have come further than others, Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Tanzania are examples of developing countries that are now seeing rapid digitalisation. In 2007, the telecommunications company Safaricom launched the mobile payment system M-PESA in Kenya. During the first two years, the company gained two million customers and billions of kroner were transferred annually via this system. M-PESA gave people without a bank account the opportunity to jump from a more traditional economy and straight into a digital economy – without going the way of expanding an expensive fixed network. In this way, people did not have to spend time going to the bank, which could often be far away – on bad roads, and they could more easily receive and transfer money.
According to HEALTHINCLUDE, M-PESA contributed to a number of digital innovations in the country. In 2011, the Red Cross in Kenya, together with Safaricom, launched the campaign, Kenyans help Kenyans to raise money during a famine in the country. Social media has been used for similar tasks. During the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping center, social media was used to inform and coordinate help. Such mobilization would not have been possible a few years ago.
In Botswana, the digitalisation of cattle farming has helped to make cattle farming more efficient. By installing digital microchips in the animals, farmers can follow the animals through digital equipment such as smartphones, tablets or computers. This system also makes it easier for farmers to communicate with veterinarians, as well as potential buyers and sellers.
In Rwanda, the government has launched Smart Kigali, an initiative that will help modernize and digitize the country’s capital. Included in the initiative is, among other things, a digital ticket system for public transport and investment in ICT in schools.
5: Need for more knowledge and increased awareness
The benefits of internet connection and digitization are obvious. But much remains for most people in developing countries to be able to use this technology. The digital divide is closely linked to the economic one. It is easier for those who already have a certain degree of resources, to take advantage of the new opportunities and benefits of digitalisation. The resource-poor rather risk falling even further behind. Assistance can help to counteract such a development.
When more people gain access to digital networks, donor countries can play an important role in raising knowledge and awareness of the opportunities and vulnerabilities that digital development opens up. Both the UN and the World Bank have pointed to the need for this type of assistance.
Mobile phone and internet connection is an important part of a digital infrastructure . But this also depends on electricity, knowledge, education and security. A well-functioning digital economy will not be possible overnight; it depends on many factors being in place, including user-friendliness. Costs, access and relevance are crucial for the technology to be used. If the price for connecting to and using the internet is too high or the internet is unavailable, large parts of the population will want or prioritize this.
If most people are not to be found on the internet, the relevance will also be small. People must experience that the internet means something to them every day. This is exactly what the inhabitants of Nairobi (Kenya) did when they were given digital opportunities (the MajiVoice project) to report problems in the water supply. The number of complaints increased significantly, but the response time to fix problems decreased sharply. The result was a much better water supply.
In order for digital technology to be used, it is important to establish good user-friendliness. In this area too, donorland can contribute with development projects that focus on, for example, education, help to establish small and medium-sized enterprises and employment.
6: Network and infrastructure
When the World Bank measures the degree of accessibility to digital networks, they divide the infrastructure in a country into three parts:
- a country’s connection to the internet
- the distribution of internet internally in the country
- the extent to which the internet is available to users in the country.
Much has already been done in African countries when it comes to national connection to the Internet – the first link. But accessibility and user-friendliness are very much dependent on the national infrastructure – the second link – also being well developed and developed. This link is largely influenced by the market and by public-private partnerships.