Recent economic indicators have clearly shown Africa’s potential. The economy of sub-Saharan Africa grew around 3.5 per cent in 2016, the second highest in the world after Asia. In 2020, according to IMF, Africa is the 2nd largest continent that enjoys high growth of 4.3 percent. Furthermore, approximately 62 per cent of African population is under 25 years-old, meaning that there will be an abundant work force that can help increase Africa’s economic growth even higher. It is predicted that in 2034, Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion. Currently, there is around a 330 million middle class population in Africa that has increasingly stronger purchasing power.
Reinforcing the positive outlook for growth is a continuing rise in the utilizing of Science, technology and innovation (STI) among African countries.
Science, technology and innovation has been identified as a key player in the socio-economic development of any nation. It plays a significant role in economic growth of nations globally. It has been identified to play a leading role in the various revolutions across the globe.
During a panel’s discussion themed, “Digital economy and economic diplomacy” at the Indonesia-Africa Forum in Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, the executive vice chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammed Sani Haruna stressed the importance of embracing STI for developing Africa’s digital economy.
He gave insight into the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 24 which was developed by African Union as part of the long-term people centered AU Agenda 2063 which is underpinned by STI as multi-function tools and enablers for achieving continental development goals including the digitalisation of the African economy.
He reported success stories in Africa associated with the adoption of digital technology such as M-Pesa in Kenya for mobile banking transactions; Jumia in Nigeria for e-commerce; Esoko in Ghana as an agricultural online platform; and IPPIS and GIFMIS in Nigeria for e-government transactions among others.
The NASENI helmsman added that although these innovations in Africa were commendable, Africa would not contribute significantly to global economy in comparison to developed nations because of the absence of digital economic manufacturing companies, adding if measures were not taken, Africa would continue to be a consumer rather than a manufacturer if infrastructure related to digital economy failed to be developed indigenously.
He acknowledged the efforts on Indonesia in developing a digital economy as reflected in the existence of e-commerce companies such as Go-Jek, Matahari and Tokopedia and the use of MataRakyat as e-voting option used in the recently concluded Jakarta gubernatorial election.
The NASENI boss further advocated the adoption of AU-STISA 24 financing strategy for development of digital economy in Africa and the emulation of Digital 7 (Estonia, New Zealand, Israel, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Canada and Uruguay) collaboration as a way for Indonesia and African countries to achieve sustainable digital economy, even as he called for the establishment of franchise by Indonesian manufacturing companies in Africa as a way to build sustainable economic and technical collaboration.
Earlier, while declaring the forum open, the vice president of Indonesia, Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, said Africa was not a foreign continent to Indonesia, pointing out that the development of cooperation with Africa was a priority of Indonesia’s foreign policy.
He said: “If Indonesia and Africa are successful in advancing our cooperation then we can tell the world that cooperation among emerging economies can also be done.”
He expressed the hope that in the two days of the forum, Indonesia and Africa would be able to map out the future of our economic cooperation, adding “for Indonesia, our commitment remains unquestionable.
Kalla equally pledged that “technical and capacity building cooperation with Africa will be increased three-fold; scholarship cooperation will be doubled; competitive export credit facilities will continue to be developed; cooperation on connectivity will also be enhanced; trade agreements will be explored among others through Preferential Trade Agreements.”
Earlier, Indonesia’s minister of foreign affairs, Retno Marsudi, said the forum attended by about 500 participants from Africa and Indonesia, including policy makers as well as the private sector aimed to strengthen economic cooperation, adding ministers, high-ranking officials, CEOs, bankers, and leaders of the chamber of commerce and industry would speak and share their thoughts on how to firm up cooperation between Indonesia and Africa.
“We have closely monitored the progress of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Indonesia wants to be part of developments in Africa and likewise Indonesia wants Africa to be part of developments in Indonesia. The exhibition held at the sideline of this forum will showcase a glimpse of the many potentials that Indonesia and Africa can unleash,” he added.
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